Monday, May 16, 2011
The Southern Strategy
I have become more and more bemused by the posts by Republicans and/or conservatives on Facebook. Not one acknowledges the fact that Ronald Reagan came to power on the basis of the Southern Strategy. Not one will acknowledge that the Republican party is still the party of bigotry and voter suppression.
Reagan capitalized on the fact that a Democratic President championed civil rights and voting rights giving African-Americans the right to vote in the South. Reagan began his 1980 campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi in a place only famous for the killing of three civil rights activists. Reagan spoke of "states rights", code words for oppression of blacks. I know, I was raised in a state that had once been part of the Confederacy. My high school was considered integrated because we had one black student. You had to pay to vote: the poll tax. The sole purpose of the poll tax was to keep African-Americans from voting. Republicans want to bring the poll tax back in the guise of voter identification laws. The GOP's aim is broader now, not just minorities, but the elderly and the disabled.
Bob Herbert wrote: "To see Reagan’s appearance at the Neshoba County Fair in its proper context, it has to be placed between the murders of the civil rights workers that preceded it and the acknowledgment by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater that the use of code words like “states’ rights” in place of blatantly bigoted rhetoric was crucial to the success of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy. That acknowledgment came in the very first year of the Reagan presidency."
Reagan set the Republican party on its path of bigotry that it maintains to this day.