A taste of the depth and explanatory power of Colin Woodard's "American Nations" analysis

Deep Southern oligarchs finally got one of their own in the White House in 2000, for the first time since 1850. George W. Bush may have been the son of a Yankee president and raised in far western Texas, but he was a creature of east Texas, where he lived, built his political career, found God, and cultivated his business interests and political alliances. His domestic policy priorities as president were those of the Deep Southern oligarchy: cut taxes for the wealthy, privatize Social Security, deregulate energy markets (to benefit family allies at Houston-based Enron), stop enforcing environmental and safety regulations for offshore drilling rigs (like BP’s Deepwater Horizon), turn a blind eye to offshore tax havens, block the regulation of carbon emissions or tougher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, block health care benefits for low-income children, open protected areas to oil exploration, appoint industry executives to run the federal agencies meant to regulate their industries, and inaugurate a massive new foreign guest-worker program to ensure a low-wage labor supply. Meanwhile, Bush garnered support among ordinary Dixie residents by advertising his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, banning stem cell research and late-term abortions, and attempting to transfer government welfare programs to religious institutions. By the end of his presidency—and the sixteen-year run of Dixie dominance in Washington—income inequality and the concentration of wealth in the federation had reached the highest levels in its history, exceeding even the Gilded Age and Great Depression. In 2007 the richest tenth of Americans accounted for half of all income, while the richest 1 percent had seen their share nearly triple since 1994.
G.W. Bush: not, as far as Woodard knows, of "Deep Southern oligarch" ancestry (though Bush and his father do incidentally have some Southern ancestry). Not even raised in the part of Texas Woodard includes in the "Deep South". But still "one of their own", because he has ties to an industry that didn't exist in antebellum America but which is obviously dominated by "Deep Southern oligarchs".

I don't think anyone will question that British Petroleum is run by Deep Southern oligarchs.

But looking at some Enron executives: Ken Lay was born in Missouri, the son of a poor Baptist preacher. He probably had ancestors from both Woodard's "Deep South" and "Greater Appalachia", and he certainly was not born into wealth. Jeffrey Skilling was from Pennyslvania. Andrew Fastow is a Jew who was born in D.C. and grew up in New Jersey.

The reality of course is the resource extraction industry (like every other industry) has incentives to lobby for favorable regulations -- irrespective of the ancestries or birthplaces of those involved. Woodard's attempt at rewriting American history as an inane leftist morality tale features similar confusions throughout.


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