A history lesson on American politics – The Ledger

Ledger Columnist Bruce Anderson in Lakeland Fl  Thursday December 22,2022.
Ernst Peters/The Ledger

We’re on the cusp of the campaign season and the first presidential primary debate is the first marker. The winnowing of the field that follows is the second.

I’ve managed to pay attention to presidential campaigning since knocking doors for George McGovern in 1972, and I’m always a bit apprehensive about the process. 

I’m also teaching Southern Politics this semester, a class that has become increasingly tricky to navigate as the years roll forward. Part of the problem is that much of the important scholarship in this area of the discipline is aging. V.O. Key, whose book “Southern Politics in State and Nation” is the starting point for almost all of the historical studies of the politics of the South, was written in 1949. It is just as insightful and just as pertinent today as it ever was. I would not dream of teaching the course without it. But there is a problem. As I wrote to my students tonight, I wanted to warn them: there are words and phrases in this work that are no longer acceptable for use.

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