In the early part of this decade, NCR corporation, following the footsteps of many others before it, moved its headquarters from its historic base of Dayton, Ohio, to Gwinnett County, Georgia. To noone’s surprise, in November 2016, the county containing Dayton, an Obama 2012 county (indeed, a Kerry 2004 county), went for Trump. Its population had shrunken by over twenty thousand between 2000 and 2010. Gwinnett County, Georgia, meanwhile, swung from being won by Romney by eight points to being won by Hillary by five. Its population had grown by over two hundred thousand between 2000 and 2010. Trump, only having been nominated due to his big talk of bringing dying jobs back, simply has no appeal to where the jobs are being shipped to. And when the jobs are being shipped out of the dying rust belt towns, they’re not just being shipped overseas. And they’re not just being shipped from the dying rust belt towns, either -over two dozen counties in Georgia actually had a smaller population in 2010 than they had in 2000. And when those jobs are leaving, they’re primarily bringing not left-behind blue-collar workers with them, but intelligent, ambitious young men and women with abundant faith in the Cathedral -clay of the elites- with them.
The rise of the Democratic Party in the Southern cities from the 1990s to today parallels that of the Republican from the 1920s to the 1960s. In 1928 (a truly revolutionary year for the party systems), Atlanta was won by Hoover -the first time a Republican candidate had won the White population of Atlanta. This Republicanism maintained itself during the Great Depression in a muted form, peaking about 1960, when Dallas was the most Republican county in Northeast Texas. It only began to move to the suburbs during the 1960s, when Goldwater lost Fulton County (GA), but did well in the Atlanta suburbs (winning DeKalb, which was only narrowly more Republican than Fulton in 1960). No doubt, this was due to the movement of southern Blacks into the inner city, resulting in a process of White flight that, to some extent, continues to this day. By 1972, Atlanta had become the most liberal part of Georgia outside the rural Black belt. Yet, this does not mean the Heart of Atlanta had in any way changed between the 1950s and the 1970s. It meant that it had only moved outward to the fertile fields of suburbia. Though any man could see that McGovern was the candidate of the urban liberals (the New York Times famously endorsed him, and Manhattan went for him), any man could also see that Nixon was, if slightly less so than Reagan, the candidate of the wealthy elites. Though Nixon’s best margins, just like Romney’s, were in the southern rurals, he performed respectably in DeKalb (77% of the vote; over 70K vote margin), Cobb, Clayton and Gwinnett -the furnaces of the new southern elite. The fault lines between this elite and the common people of the country became far clearer in the next election, when Ford’s best counties in Georgia were, in general, fairly population-dense and well-off -they included Dougherty County (containing Albany) in southern Georgia, as well as DeKalb, Cobb, and Fayette in the Atlanta suburbs. These three counties were, in the 1970s, the Heart of Atlanta, where the stereotypes of the rich South -grandiose homes, detachment from both the rural and inner-city populaces, white-collar employment, hatred of Communism, love of business, and of the attraction for and possession of both money and education- all applied.
But the was not Ford, but Reagan, who truly attracted the Southern elite’s admiration – in the election of 1980, the suburbs of Atlanta lit up Republican colors on the map like Christmas lights. The most Republican county in Georgia became Fayette, where Reagan won over 60% of the vote. Rockdale, Clayton, Douglas, Cobb, Gwinnett stood out among the patchwork of Georgia counties as some of the only counties in the state to flip to Reagan -and when they flipped, they flipped big league. Reagan might have created the marriage gap, but he also vastly exacerbated the income gap, which remained in existence until 2016.
Though the heart of Atlanta continued moving outward and outward (Clayton is now majority-Black), and the rurals increasingly took on the politics of the suburbs, the heart of Atlanta remained the same throughout -solidly establishment, solidly hawkish, solidly White collar, and solidly elitist.
What is the heart of Atlanta? The heart of Atlanta is not inner-city disorder, or the perpetrual White populism of rural Georgia, but pure and unadulterated suburban elitism that prevails in the fastest-growing parts of Georgia even unto this day. It has no regard for the protection of blue-collar jobs, Vermonter radicalism, or even crude demagoguery -its main turn-ons are tax-cuts, foreign policy insanity, corruption, praise of the financial establishment, lengthy papers filled with unacheivable policy promises, and behavior more proper to marionettes than men. Its champions Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney satisfied all those requirements. Last year’s Democratic nominee satisfied all but the first. Last year’s Republican nominee satisfied the first and only the first.
This, my friends and foes, is the heart of Atlanta- the heart of Southern elitism:
Credit: Ryne Rohla
This year, two House races will take place to replace Trump’s two cabinet picks from the House. Both will take place in districts Republican House candidates won by more than ten points. One will take place precisely in that heart of Atlanta so filled with deluded and dangerous elitists and elites, the other in the much less elite and much more generally sensible, but equally split-ticket prone state of Montana. The district that elected Tom Price, Trump’s present secretary of Health and Human Services, was the district east of the Mississippi that swung hardest against Trump in 2016. The Republican Party may suffer at first from its loss -and such a loss is certainly possible in the second round of voting. But in the long term, it will be far better off dumping the majority of this district’s residents to the big-government party they properly belong to. Some votes choke parties’ throats. Had the Democrats had an all-White primary, Bernie would have won, and won easily. Had the dominance of such people as constitute the swing vote in this district been shattered by the grand old party’s base earlier, Barack Obama would have lost re-election.