This chapter discusses the implications of the revisionist portrait of Southern politics introduced in the previous chapters. It begins by considering how much the South has changed since the dismantlement of the one-party system. It also examines the qualitative distinction between the status of blacks and whites in the Jim Crow South. Southern members of Congress (MCs) could not ignore whites' preferences the way they did blacks', a fact with important implications for their behavior in office and, indirectly, for the course of American political development. The chapter then explores this book's implications for our understanding of American political development, of mass politics in authoritarian regimes, and of the role of parties in democracy. After all, just because the one-party South was not itself a democracy does not mean that we cannot learn something about democracy from studying it. Chief among the lessons here is the claim that a multiparty system—and specifically, partisan electoral competition—is a necessary condition for democracy.
Keywords: Southern politics, one-party system, Southern MCs, Jim Crow South, American political development, democracy, mass politics, authoritarian regimes, one-party South, partisan electoral competition, multiparty system
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