We native Southerners spend our lives blessing hearts, speaking in a soft and friendly cadence and trying, desperately at times, to put a good face on all manner of misfortune. It’s what we do. We deplore coarseness, loud talking and sprouted bread. When we have something the teensiest bit nasty to say, we simply scream it into the sofa pillow that was lovingly embroidered by our dear departed grandmother.
Which is why it may be harder than Donald Trump imagines to ingratiate himself to the South in time to capture those 700 or so delegates up for grabs in the nation’s earliest primaries next spring.
I’ve criticized Trump in the past, so I feel that I owe it to him to share some advice on how to campaign successfully in the South. It just wouldn’t be Christian not to.
First off, for Trump to carry the South, he will need to stop saying unflattering things about women. Southern women have brothers and husbands and fathers and sons. Talk about our faces as he did with Carly Fiorina and somebody’s fixin' to have a mighty unpleasant face-rearranging of his own.
Do not even think of telling Nikki Haley that she is “sadly no longer a 10” or some such. Do not call our Southern women, as you did Rosie O'Donnell, “a fat pig.” See face rearranging above.
Do not brag about your wealth and power. True Southerners despise a braggart. Even while they’re holding Trump signs high at your rallies, their skin crawls a little every time you say that you are the “smartest,” “richest,” “most successful,” etc. Yes, it does.
On the campaign trail, you will eat a lot of Southern food that you’re not used to. Do not even think about describing our barbecue as “something that looks like it’s already been chewed, I mean, I’m just saying it’s not very good. It’s highly overrated I would say.”
Speaking of food, if you are asked to be guest judge at the state fair, don’t offer that “In New York, I have the finest jam makers in the entire universe working around the clock to provide me with the best jam anyone has ever tasted. And that includes Martians. They got the water but not the blueberries, am I right?”
Visiting a local construction site? Be supportive, not competitive. Do not say, for instance, “You call this a construction site? This looks like something I made in kindergarten. Can’t be over 20 stories, am I right? When I build a building, it is the tallest, biggest, widest, bestest building. People from China come over and say, ‘Oooooh. That good building!’ ”
Meet and greet at the local university? Avoid phrases like: “I went to college and the professors used to say to me, Why are you here? There’s nothing we can teach you! In fact, we wish you would teach US!’”
I certainly hope this helps as you make repeated visits to my homeland. I’m going to go scream into my pillow now.