Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Origin of the term "Sun Belt"

The New York Times Book Review for Sunday March 19 has its cover story on Kevin Phillips' new book American Theocracy. First, let me admit that I read this only in paper. It took me about five tries before I saw that the initial capital letter for the story was the illustration of the US Capitol/Washington Monument/Oil Refinery with floating money was really the initial capital.

Once I figured that out, I started feeling old. The review notes that Phillips' first book The Emerging Republican Majority was published in 1969. I remember reading that, and other of Phillips' work in a course I took on "Elections" (as an undergrad at Brown) during the fall of 1972. The midterm had a bonus question: predict the electoral vote from the outcome of the November 1972 election. I missed getting the bonus because I did not think that George McGovern would carry his home state. I did correctly give him Massachusetts (and no others). In electoral vote terms, it was a huge landslide.

With the hindsight of four decades, The Emerging Republican Majority was surprisingly accurate. While I don't generally read non-fiction for fun, I'm sorely tempted by this one.

The Phillips book also reminded me of a board game that I played the previous spring and even that fall where each player was one of the presidential hopefuls. I remember Senator Birch Bayh (Indiana) was one. Representative Morris Udall (Arizona) was another. I guess I could go look for the others, but I am afraid that it will just make me feel older.

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