/The South isn’t red– it’s rigged
Graphic by Bell Jackson

The South isn’t red– it’s rigged

By Xander Swain, Copy editor

Despite being a Navy brat and moving across the East Coast, I have always and will always call Alabama my home. It is where I was born, where I go to college and where I return for every holiday or break.  

I don’t have a particularly thick southern accent, but I’m a fan of the Crimson Tide, I say y’all, I grew up making biscuits from scratch and I will always brag on my grandma’s southern cooking. I can’t claim that I’m country or know what it’s like to live in the deep south, but it’s safe to say that I identify as an Alabamian, and that my friends, even in North Carolina, would call me southern.  

However, the mainstream perception of the South would tell you that my personal politics have no place being in Alabama. I identify as a leftist and believe in so-called socialist policies and programs like universal healthcare, free college tuition and affordable housing. I want to see more stringent gun reform in the U.S., I’m in favor of higher taxes for the uber wealthy and I support unions.  

I can go on with my political beliefs, but the point is, from an outside perspective, my politics are antithetical to the Southern United States. While on a legislative level this is wholeheartedly true, I believe that my politics, and more generally, leftism, are more salient to the everyday individual in the South than conservatism.  

Leftism, and politics of the working class, are entrenched in Southern history and in Alabama. Uniting people between racial and working-class political lines has been a staple in eras after Reconstruction and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. However, Alabama, much like other states in the South, is currently being held hostage by their constitutions and state legislatures.  

On the topic of representation, Alabama voting districts are purposefully, and without remorse, gerrymandered to hell. Even after their district lines were ruled unconstitutional in 2010, the tactics that the Alabama legislators use remain the same. Those same tactics of racially gerrymandering districts for Republican advantage are now once again under the eye of the Supreme Court.  

Until 2022, Alabama had the longest state constitution in the world. The constitution is as long as it is because the legislature wants to centralize the state government in an effort to take power away from local municipalities. Every amendment that could have been passed as a bill represents the efforts by the Alabama State Legislature to stifle progress in our state. Each amendment serves as a reminder that the people in Alabama are not only underrepresented, but the minimal representation they do have fails to adequately serve the constituency as it is restricted by the systems of governance. 

The South in this sense is forgotten. And there is the unfortunate reality that many people think the South should be forgotten. People believe that the South is a monolith of racist, homophobic cretins and bigots when, as I have said before, this is not the reality.  

Rather, the South is full of culture and stories of struggle for change. It’s comprised of communities who are consistently oppressed, and individuals whose voices are silenced by corrupt greed and systems of governance that are wholly against any forms of progress.  

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Xander Swain is the copy editor for The Alabamian. He is majoring in political science, environmental studies, and sociology and wants to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in sociology. He enjoys cooking for his friends, listening to music and taking long walks on the beach.