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Southern Party seeks to revive old times not forgotten

August 1, 1999
Web posted at: 10:17 p.m. EDT (0217 GMT)

From Reporter Jonathan Aiken. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, August 1) -- Six score and 18 years after the birth of the Confederate States of America, its political heirs want to reclaim Dixie.

Southern Party gathering
The party stands for states' rights, lower taxes and, eventually, Southern independence
VIDEO
CNN's Jonathan Aiken reports on the Southern Party.
Windows Media 28K 80K
 

The Southern Party is working to register as a bona fide political party in all 11 states of the old Confederacy, as well as five bordering states -- Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland.

Its platform includes states' rights, lower taxes and, eventually, Southern independence.

"We're kind of a nation within a nation," says George Kalas, chairman of the Southern Party. "We had four years of independence as a nation to develop that separate culture. That is not co-optable. You can't co-opt our Southern heritage, you can't co-opt our Southern drawl, our Southern cooking, our Southern music, our deep religious faith."

Party leaders insist their group is not racist. But to some, talk of "Southern heritage" conjures up troubling images.

"This Southern heritage (of) genteel living and drinking mint juleps and sitting out on the plantation -- well, while folks were maxin' and relaxin' and enjoying life, I was out working from can't-see to can't-see for no benefit and not reaping any fruits from my labor," says Salim Khalfani of the Virginia NAACP.

Confederate statue
This Confederate war memorial has its back to Washington  

A metaphor for the new party might be a Confederate war memorial a few miles down river from Washington -- the soldier's back is toward the capital and he is looking to the South.

Even though President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and a number of top GOP House leaders all hail from the South, many in the Southern Party feel Washington has turned its back on the region's interests.

In the short term, the Southern Party wants to elect its candidates to local and regional offices. But some political analysts warn that its longer-term goal -- vindication of the Confederate ideal -- may be harder to realize.

"Southerners don't divide themselves from the rest of the country," says Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster. "They've got the same concerns about taxes, about spending, about Social Security."

Ironically, in this regional party with no obvious well-known leaders, many of its founders are looking to Sen. Bob Smith as their role model. The once Republican and now independent conservative senator is a Yankee from New Hampshire.


RELATED STORIES

Confederate flag can stay on special license tags (2-25-1997)


RELATED SITES
The Southern Party

The-South.Com


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Sunday, August 1, 1999

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