TIME

THE MANY SOUTHS

A CHANCE TO RESHAPE AMERICAN LIFE
A young woman skates in front of an LGBT Pride booth at a music festival in Berea, Ky.

THE DINNER HAD BEEN PLEASANT, THE CONVERSATION congenial. On a spring evening in 2016, in a private room in the capital of a Southern state, the governor—a Republican, a native and a longtime vote-getter—was asked what, exactly, was happening to his party. The state’s primary had taken place not long before, and an interloper—Donald Trump—had crushed a GOP field that included conservative candidates from typical Sunbelt favorites like Florida and Texas. The governor shook his head. “Turnout was what’s so amazing,” he said. Precincts, particularly rural ones, that usually produced a handful of primary voters had been swamped with supporters of a thrice-married libertine from New York. “Folks just came out of nowhere,” the governor said, a tone of marvel in his voice. “I thought I knew this state cold. I thought I knew the South cold.

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