Back in the Seventies you heard that phrase a lot. The Confederacy was dead ("died of an idea" as one fellow put it during the Civil War) and Old Dixie was booming. Pockets of stupidity and racism remained, even to the extent of Alabama Governor George "Segregation Forever" Wallace running for President in 1972.
Of course, a twisted little bastard named Artie Bremer put a wheelchair-sized crimp in Wallace's campaign, and Nixon won re-election in a landslide against Democrat George McGovern.
Back in the late 60s and 70s, the Republican Party started making inroads into the Old South and taking voters away from the Democrats. They managed this feat by feeding red meat to what would later become the Base of the Party. The best slogan, of course, was "state's rights," an echo of the South's secessionist past and a slogan used by Ronald Reagan back in 1979.
The Base of the GOP remains predominantly Southern, with inroads into the West and Midwest according to what states went red or blue in the 2008 general election, and the great fear of many intelligent GOP analysts is that the GOP may end up a regional party unable to slug it out toe-to-toe with the Democrats.
The liberal website Daily Kos contracted with polling firm Research 2000 to do weekly polling, and have asked a question regarding the so-called Birther Conspiracy. This little snippet of Stupid posits that Barack Obama was not a "natural-born" citizen of the United States, as required by the Constitution.
(Legal background - the definition of "natural-born" was codified as Title 8 United States Code, Section 1401. Enlightening reading.)
Of all of the 2400 American voters asked in the survey, a disheartening 11% actually buy into the Birther meme. Less than half of those polled who think that Obama is not a citizen are Republican.
That breaks down even further (with handy visual-aid pie charts) to show that of those who think he wasn't born in Hawaii, 69% live in the South, and 56% of those are Republicans. As a Republican, who lives in Florida, this is truly disheartening.
It's awful to contemplate that The Stupid is so pervasive in The New South, but there it is. Despite copies of his Certificate of Live Birth (which, under Hawaii state law, is the only accessible public record), despite his birth announcement in the Honolulu newspaper in August 1961, despite the fact that his Kansas-born mother was an American citizen (and under 8 USC 1401 his citizenship would be automatic), the Birthers refuse to face the facts.
The roots of the Birther "conspiracy" are, in my opinion, based on racism and fear. I base this assertion on several things, but the polling data and demographics released today do nothing but buttress my argument. The people in the "New" South are afraid of a biracial President (yes, calling him "black" is a misnomer as his mother was white, but it's a convenient tag that unfortunately feeds the old racist "one drop" meme) and will swallow any justification for that fear.
Don't believe it.