The South stands defiant today in courthouses across Alabama, refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite being told they must by a Federal Court, twice. The problem is that the Alabama Constitution still bans same-sex marriage, as well as women’s suffrage, integration of any kind unnatural, and still requires a poll tax, of course. The Alabama Constitution, designed at the dawn of the 20th century “to establish white supremacy in this State… within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution”, has seen those Federal limits tighten over the years. The Deep South was long the land of populist Democrats and Dixiecrats; Huey Long making every man a king, George Wallace promising segregation forever, and Strom Thurmond stating that all the bayonets in the Army could not force the integration of their swimming pools.
Like Strom, the South has turned Republican over the decades as the GOP has given up their blue banners of the Union for Confederate Red. But the Artist Formerly Known As the Party of Lincoln still draws its leadership from Union states like Ohio (Boehner), Kentucky (McConnell), and Massachusetts (Romney). The Deep South knows all too well what it’s like to play second fiddle, and when it does seize the reins of a major Party it tends to lead to a perpetual minority and/or civil war. It seems we’re nearing the point when the old Confederacy will demand and procure control over the Grand Old Party, and the 2016 primaries will be their first serious chance at success.
The “SEC Primary”, a proposal to bunch southern states into a Super Southern Tuesday on March 1st 2016, gets its name from none other than a football conference. God Bless America. At least it’s not the “Dale Jarett Primary” or “Chick-Fil-A Presents, The Traditional Marriage Primary: Marriage is Between One Fried Chicken Breast and Two Pickles, the Way God Intended.” Potentially having 7 southern states voting the first week in March, including Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, could transform the timbre of the GOP debate to one more focused on hot button issues. In a race that will favor conservatives on foreign policy, the last thing Republican strategists want is a national debate on abortion and marriage.
It doesn’t help that southern primaries are usually about as clean as the corner barber’s loosely veiled dirty jokes. It’s hard to forget the robocall in South Carolina asking if you would still vote for John McCain knowing that he had an illegitimate black child. With the Supreme Court likely to liberate marriage throughout the country this June, it seems hard to image an SEC Primary that doesn’t focus on the definition of marriage. What matters is how far it goes. Namely, will there be an official pledge to support a Constitutional Amendment? Will Jeb Bush, or Rand Paul of all people, take that pledge, risking their legacy for expediency in the present? I doubt Roy Moore is the next George Wallace or modern day Boss Platt for that matter, but there’s simply too much energy under the surface for an Amendment banning gay marriage not to be championed by at least one major Republican contender. What’s left of the establishment GOP will have their hands full if that Jabberwocky lurches into the open.