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james_nicoll
Ever wonder how it was back before the Southern Strategy, when the hard-core racist Dixiecrats were still Democrats, the Republican Party managed to lose the Black vote? And by "managed to lose", I mean "actively drove off".

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

This is a shining example of the bipartisanship that you hear the USAn pundits yearning for.

Indeed, the mid-20th-century golden era of US legislative bipartisanship happened essentially because the most divisive issue in the country, race and civil rights, happened to cut across party lines at that point. To a large extent it was a factional rift in the Democratic Party, but evidently some of that was going on with the Republicans too.

Western republicans on the whole did not care much one way or the other about civil rights, but supported southern filibusters in return for southern support for federal largesse for western states. Eastern and coastal republicans generally supported civil rights, either out of conviction or (like Nixon as VP) in the hopes of detaching the black vote from the Democrats.

William Hyde

Having read a wikki article on the subject, through your link, I have to confess: All the lilys around here are orange. I kind of knew that they also came in white, but I just don't see them around here.

Has nothing to do with the conversation at hand, but I'm lonesome and writing this here helps me feel like I am having some kind of conversation.

Have a coversation cookie!

Thank you. I confess that I have been gradually pulling away from most of my light social contacts - this is because, for the most part, they all seem to have gone nuts (I have to add that they also appear to be perfectly happy to be this way). I avoid that kind of excitement as much as possible.

I would say that I wish that my cats could talk, but based on observed body language and what vocalizations they do provide, I probably don't want to get involved in that drama, either.

We have tiger lilys around here. They grow wild in the ditches.

Late nineteenth, early 20th century, White Supremacy was what all the cool kids were doing. That the Republicans had a "let's get more racist!" movement hardly surprises me.

Bruce

Keep in mind, it was also an effort to control the definition of "white".

So much of American history is actually the history of some ethnic groups trying to gain an advantage over others through the political process. Remember when there was an ethnic Yankee identity? later subsumed into WASP, which in turn is becoming more diffuse. And it's not a coincidence that the Confederate poet laureate wrote a long poem called "Ethnogenesis" (in which he also claimed the Union was inspired by the Devil).

I was amused to see an old distinction resurrected in a review of the new FDR movie. To whit, that he was not a WASP, but a Knickerboker.

I wonder what the term WASP will eventually mean, if it survives. Just someone upper-class? I agree that it is growing diffuse - I've long since stopped noticing when a Catholic is called a WASP, or a highland Scot, or a Finn for that matter.

I'm trying to make myself fit into WAFNA, a curse word from Carmina Burana. White Anglo-French-Norman Athiest? Though the alleged French ancestry in our family is distant indeed and possibly imaginary.

William Hyde

Yeah, you're right. For a nation supposedly founded on political ideals and principles rather than ethnicity, it is quite remarkable how much of our history is underlined by race and ethnic(and to some extent religious)conflict. I wonder if conflicts between different brands of "white" in the south were muted by the overwhelming presence of the Black Other?

Bruce

Well, there were really only two brands in most places. At the time of the Confederacy, Texas Germans were quite literally terrorized into obedience; on the other hand, the French planters in Louisiana were honorary Southern gentlemen, even though they had disdained the "Kentucky" element a generation before.

But it's not a coincidence that the Appalachian Scots-Irish were often Unionist in sentiment.

But it's not a coincidence that the Appalachian Scots-Irish were often Unionist in sentiment.

A point that I was about to make myself. My great-great paternal grandparents were considered "mixed" because my gg-grandmother was Appalachian Scots-Irish with a significant amount of Native American in-laws, and she married my gg-grandfather who was Southern (of British and Welsh ancestry) and had brothers who were slave owners. He was considered white and she wasn't, though the exact terminology or understanding of what she was considered, racially speaking, isn't something I've ever been able to determine.

It's intereresting that West Virginia flipped to being a solid Democratic (that is, functionally Southern) state so soon after Reconstruction ended, given that as far as I know it owed its existence to Union allegiance. I'm not entirely sure what was going on there.


West Virginia was made too big. The eventual state included enough counties that had been loyalist that they were able to team up with the jackass population in the mountains to run the government.

But it's not a coincidence that the Appalachian Scots-Irish were often Unionist in sentiment.


It's not a coincidence, but it has more to do with geography than ethnicity -- the fewer slaves an area had, the less support the rebellion had, and mountainous regions -- eastern Tennessee, western Virginia and Kentucky -- had fewer slaves than places with wide, flat plains.

the trouble is that the lily-white republicans' goal wasn't just "let's get more racist!" but was actually focused on getting rid of the black republican politicians with popular support in the south and then disenfranchising the only source of republican voters in southern states because they were black.

On the one hand you gotta admire their committment, even if it is to white supremacy, on the other hand you gotta look a bit askance at the sort of people who gleefully make suicide pacts with the devil.

Indeed. It's fascinating reading about that sort of self-destructive bigotry happening before. For my entire adult life, the GOP has been defining the terms and vocabulary of national conversations about everything from taxes to morality, and then recently (and in many ways quite suddenly), their hegemony seems to be not merely slipping, but rapidly vanishing, largely because of similar tactics.

Of course, back then open bigotry may have ultimately gotten them more votes than they lost (although that's purely speculative and could easily be wrong). Today, that's rather less true.

It's been hard for me to wrap my brain around. My intuition has been trained by decades of watching US politics to tell me that those tactics always work.

My intuition has been trained by decades of watching US politics to tell me that those tactics always work.

Kind of struggling with that one myself. Of course, I lived in Texas from 1982-2000, the first 18 years of my voting life, so my perceptions may have been skewed by that experience.

I think it's all about Republican message control, and (for the first time in my political lifetime) the increasing lack thereof.

I think it's mostly about there being more non-white Americans, myself. White people seem to go for coded racial appeals almost as much as they always did.

...though I guess it probably takes more explanation than that, because whiteness is itself a socially constructed category. Time was, you could set downtrodden immigrant populations against black Americans, and eventually assimilate them into whiteness to keep the white population up and use the same rhetoric as before.

For some reason, that doesn't seem to be working lately with Latino and Asian immigrants, and, for that matter, it didn't work all that well with Jews either, even though they do usually get the "white" label. Maybe it's information tech, as keithmm said. The Republicans actually had a lot of success with Arab-Americans in 2000 but screwed the pooch completely after 9/11.

Speaking as an umpteenth generation white American of pretty much 100% WASP descent, I never even noticed most of the coded racial appeals until I started getting intensely critical of politics, but then (a) I've been a dyed-in-the-wool liberal since my early teen years and (b) I'm remarkably dense about right wing messaging -- it took me forever to figure out that "If guns are outlaws, only outlaws will have guns" wasn't a *pro*-gun control message. So, yeah. As you say.

...it took me forever to figure out that "If guns are outlaws, only outlaws will have guns" wasn't a *pro*-gun control message.

Ha! Similarly, it took ME forever to figure out that "There are no atheists in foxholes!" was supposed to be some sort of slur against non-belief.

I ascribe it to information technology.

Back in Reagan's day and earlier, a politician could hit areas and do the required speaking notes and not have to worry about people outside the area paying much attention to what was said, and they could change what was said to suit the audience without being hurt saying something different elsewhere. Even when a speech was covered by a paper or clips seen on the news, with only a few channels on TV covering the news in the evening, and not much interaction in newspapers, the odds were pretty good not many people would pick up on the changing message. Reagan could come across as more inclusive in the north and the west while at the same time using the proper racial codewords and dogwhistles in the south.

You can't get away with that nearly as much these days, because word of what you do in one place is infinitely easier to find out about somewhere else. Trent Lott got nailed because of the comments he made at Stom Thurmond's birthday party and forced out of his leadership position in 2003 in large part because Duncan Black publicized those remarks on his blog. A politician says something different than he did last week, someone will have a YouTube clip showing the difference within minutes (which led to the "Mitt Romney debates himself" videos seen this year).

What it's done for the Republicans is that they've been caught in an untenable situation: the things they do to suck up to a large portion of their base is looked at askance by other voters--who now are much more aware of it--while at the same time anything they say to more moderate voters is instantly known by the rabid base and they respond in opposition. So to make sure they get their base votes, they have to go more extreme which is instantly known to the moderates...

The changing demographic profile in the US ("You mean more than white people vote?") certainly hasn't helped them at all.

Edited at 2012-12-09 08:28 pm (UTC)

I'd never considered this as a general case, but it makes sense. Certainly we've seen a rise in stuff like what happened to Trent Lott and like ex-Senator George Allen's "macaca" comment, which effectively ended his political career.

As a side-note, this sort of thing is essentially a more detailed and constant version of what happened with the rise of interviews and debates on national television for presidential candidates, and got me thinking about how different pre-tv US politics must have been (especially on a national level), where it would have been trivially easy to give different messages to different locations, with very little risk of anyone even noticing.

I came to the idea when you kept seeing politicians (mostly Republican, but some Democrats have been caught on it as well) saying things in public and then being shocked that word got around, especially when they were surprised it happened at events that had no obvious news coverage.

Apparently they never clued into the fact that there's no such thing as public-but-closed-to-the-press events any more. Everyone has a cell that can record video or just the sound recording and upload it immediately. People in the audience are tweeting and blogging and commenting about what you say as you say it. You have to expect that everything you say in public is public.

I ran into this old-fashioned way of thinking a few years ago when a regulatory board was considering whether there might be situations where, during a public hearing, they might ask reporters to leave the room. I pointed out the issue that anyone could record what was said and upload it to the net, even by taking a camera and transferring the video to their computer, so the only way to keep it from appearing in the news was to make the hearing closed to the entire public. Which they couldn't. At least they agreed with me and dropped the idea.

Edited at 2012-12-09 10:03 pm (UTC)

That didn't end Allen's political career, actually; he made a credible run for the Senate in 2012. Didn't win, but he was the Republican nominee.

Ended in the sense that he's now lost twice for the Senate, and at this point I rather doubt he'll get much support for a third try. The fact that GOP voters are willing to nominate an avowed racist doesn't change the fact that the full range of voters (even in a relatively conservative state like Virginia) aren't willing to elect him.

the trouble is that the lily-white republicans' goal wasn't just "let's get more racist!" but was actually focused on getting rid of the black republican politicians with popular support in the south


I think you have the order wrong:

* Hayes ends Reconstruction.
* Southern Democrats immediately institute laws preventing blacks from voting.
* Southern Republicans, including black politicians are voted out in droves.
* Southern Democrats now have enough power in Congress to prevent the Republicans from doing anything.
* Voters in the North are more concerned about economic issues than what's happening to blacks in the South.
* Opportunistic Republicans cozy up to Southern racists in order to be competitive in the South.

In the 19th Century it was as much about Nativism as White Supremacy -- remember that the Know Nothings defected to the Republicans after 1856, which is why areas with large Irish populations like New York tended to remain Democratic. Even so, the Republicans had a good track record on civil rights until Hayes sold them out by ending Reconstruction.

In 1876, one or two states were actually swung to Hayes by the black vote. That was the last time that happened for a very long time.

My parents were Southern Democrats right up till the moment my father got transferred to California in the early 60s. This was a couple of years after they pulled my sisters (I was three) out of the New Orleans public schools during the height of the civil rights uproar. They were hard-core Republicans ever after. Demographic match much?

I, I hasten to add, have never been a Southern Democrat or a hard-core Republican.