Sometimes it is easy to define ourselves by what we are not. Thus, as a twenty year old watching the 1968 presidential election, I realized I was not the Republican I thought I was due to Richard Nixon’s southern strategy, which was nothing less than fear-mongering and race-baiting. From the Wikipedia entry regarding the southern strategy, according to a Nixon strategist:
- From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
- While Phillips sought to polarize ethnic voting in general, and not just to win the white South, the South was by far the biggest prize yielded by his approach. Its success began at the presidential level, gradually trickling down to statewide offices, the Senate and House, as legacy segregationist Democrats retired or switched to the GOP.
The Willie Horton ad of 1988 and the 2008 birther and “Obama is a Muslim” movements continued this grand legacy of playing on fears born of the dark side of human nature.
Similarly, it’s easy to be a feminist when Erick Erickson of Red State blog (one of the most popular Republican blogs in Washington) tweets the following after the Super Bowl Tebow ad:
To paraphrase an old adage, best to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool than to tweet and remove all doubt. Kudos to Pam Spaulding for this snapshot.