George W. Bush: Western or Southern?

Jacob Weisberg writes:

One way to understand the divisions in the Republican Party is as a clash of regional philosophies. Northeastern conservatism is moderate, accepts the modern welfare state, and dislikes mixing religion with politics. Western conservatism is hawkish, hates government, and embraces individual freedom. Southern conservatism is populist, draws on evangelical Christianity, and plays upon racial resentments. The big drama of the GOP over the past several decades has been the Northeastern view giving way to the Southern one. To see this transformation in a single family, witness the shift from George H.W. Bush to George W. Bush.

In this taxonomy, isn’t George W. Bush more “western” than he is “southern”? He was hawkish and hated government. That’s two of the three western qualities. And while he drew on evangelical Christianity, a “southern” trait, I cannot recall him playing on racial resentments, nor did he strike me as a populist — he was much closer to the big business wing of the GOP than the populist wing, which makes sense given his personal background and governing philosophy.

(His position on immigration is the single best example of this.)


4 Responses to “George W. Bush: Western or Southern?”

  1. mfarmer Says:

    It turned out, through his actions, that he governed as a mixture of western and northeastern. The northeastern influence of his father, coupled with the influence of neo-cons, caused him to be a Frankenstein of incompetence.

  2. djspellchecka Says:

    while i agree that the gop’s shift was from the ne to the south, bush is as much texan as southern…i’ve heard the argument that east texas is more southern than western but not sure it applies here…

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  4. voxoctopi Says:

    George W. Bush was definitely not a clear-cut Southern conservative under this definition, but I think you’re underestimating his Southerness. Bush’s whole compassionate conservatism schtick was about not hating government. His foreign policy ended up being hawkish, but he was first elected as a dove who criticized Clinton’s militarism.

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