Southern politicians may be the best way

By George Ploss

I love the two-hour ride to and from Chicago. The road is long and soothing and affords me the opportunity to listen to some good music. It’s fun and fascinating to put a 40-gigabyte iPod on shuffle, having tracks go from Sly and the Family Stone to Jefferson Airplane, Howlin’ Wolf then to Jay-Z, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest and back to Count Basie and Bocelli.

This time around, returning from Chicago visiting the family for Father’s Day, I had the pleasure of listening to an album called “King” from the rapper T.I. He’s from Atlanta, and being a hip-hop purist myself often results in me being extra critical of Southern rappers.

The funny thing with him is that he’s really good and has really changed. He maintains the face of Southern hip-hop with a mature, charismatic and confident swagger. He’s progressive and conservative. I guess you would call him a moderate hip-hopper, one who shines in the current overexposed spotlight of materialism, hyper-capitalism, and gangsta rap, but yet still remains true to the roots of hip-hop by not letting the above become his image or identity as an artist.

I know those of you who have no association with hip-hop are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, but I immediately correlated T.I.’s balanced progressivism with that of some of the most progressive politicians throughout our history.

At first, I viewed this as a fleeting thought, but with the idea looming over my head as I passed Kankakee and Gilman, the chord of correlation began to ring louder and louder. Maybe it was T.I.’s “Top Back” track getting me riled up, but when I thought about how a lot of Americans see our national soul in the historically turbulent and tumultuous South, I considered how those hollowed grounds have given way to some of the most prominent and honest politicians in America like former Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and former Senator, now Presidential Candidate John Edwards.

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Aristocratic Northerners, myself included, and people who see the South as the hub of modern American conservatism often attack it and its ways for seeming slower and regressive. So then why is it that those I’ve mentioned above had the unique ability to walk the fine line of balanced progressivism? I have no idea, but they’re all from the South.

Too many times however, we associate anything north of the Mason-Dixon line as progressive and more racially friendly. Albeit the rhetoric may be a little more secular, academically thick and ambiguous, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s synonymous with correct. It’s not political straight talk.

I’ve always liked Senator John Edwards, especially his views on health care. I believe I can argue with a valued degree of certainty that he’s more direct and clearer than Obama and Hillary and may very well be more progressive than both of them.

Yes, a rich white male who is not more left, but more progressive than a black male and a white woman, and he’s from the South. Have we found the other end of the Clarence Thomas equation?

It just goes to show that our political prejudices shouldn’t evoke conservative racial tension, but should call to question just who is for the growth and development of America.

Just because they’re of a minority doesn’t mean that you have to blindly vote for them.

Just ask Congressman Charles B. Rangel of New York’s 15th District.

Look at him and try to guess whom he’s endorsing for the presidency.

One Love.