Michael Steele is doing his best to help his
Republican Confederate Party celebrate Confederate History Month.
And he is so very helpful. Last Tuesday night he was asked why African-Americans should vote Republican he told his audience of students at DePaul University:
“You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True”…
And then he explained why.
Back in the day, pundit Michael Kinsley defined a ‘gaffe’ as a statement where a politician accidentally tells the truth. By this definition Michael Steele is a Gaffe machine. To explain why blacks do not have a reason to vote Republican Steele admitted that his Party had intentionally turned its back on folks of color as part of their “Southern Strategy“:
“We have lost sight of the historic, integral link between the party and African-Americans,” Steele said. “This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass. The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don’t walk away from parties, Their parties walk away from them.
“For the last 40-plus years we had a ‘Southern Strategy’ that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, ‘Bubba’ went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton.”
Disclosing that the ‘Southern Strategy’ was and is a real policy of the
Republican Confederate Party has landed Mr. Steele into more hot water with the old white guard of the party.
As usual, the real masters of the
Republican Confederate Party wasted no time trying to deny the existence of a ‘Southern Strategy’ and discount Steele’s latest bit of truth telling gaffe. David Weigel lays out some the ongoing denial by the usual suspects. Bruce Bartlett chastised Steele:
I think it’s too bad that Steele gave Democrats reason to believe that their distorted vision of how Republicans came to dominate the South is correct. It may be his biggest gaffe so far.
Remember, in Washington a gaffe is when you accidentally speak the truth and when you tell your ‘biggest gaffe’ it is because you are telling a truth that some wish to keep in the shadows.
The “Southern Strategy” is one of those truths.
It was Lee Atwater who described how the SS worked is a 1981 interview published in the 1990 book, The Two-Party South by Alexander P. Lamis. In 2005, NYTs columnist Bob Hurbert quoted the interview in his column:
Listen to the late Lee Atwater in a 1981 interview explaining the evolution of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy:
”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.
”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.”’ [snip]
The payoff has been huge. Just as the Democratic Party would have been crippled in the old days without the support of the segregationist South, today’s Republicans would have only a fraction of their current political power without the near-solid support of voters who are hostile to blacks.
When Democrats revolted against racism, the G.O.P. rallied to its banner.
It was Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” that moved the Confederate party from the Democrats to the Republicans. And this was done by exploiting racism overtly with actions and covertly with coded talking points and dog whistles.
These days Kevin Phillips is known as somebody who has broken with the Republican Party, but back in 1970 he was in the Nixon White House working with future felon Attorney General Mitchell to develop the ‘Southern Strategy’. Phillips was profiled in a 1970 NYTs article (here is a link to a pdf). It is long piece, but worth the read. Here are some excerpts that shed a light on how the Republican Party started to date the Confederate Party (emphasis added):
[Kevin Phillips] On Negroes and the G.O.P.:
“All the talk about Republicans making inroads into the Negro vote is persiflage. Even ‘Jake the Snake’ [Senator Jacob K. Javits] only gets 20 percent. 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.” [snip]
“My argument was this: Your outer Southerners who live in the Ozark and Appalachian mountain ranges and in the Piedmont upcountry-and now in urban-suburban Florida and Texas-have always had different interests than the Negrophobe plantation owners of the Black Belt. This is a less extreme conservative group. It adheres with other Republican constituencies across the country and can be appealed to without fragmenting the coalition. When you are after political converts, start with the less extreme and wait for the extremists to come into line when their alternatives collapse.” [snip]
A new ethnic disturbance-the emergence of the Negro-Latino–finally shattered it [the Democratic coalition]. The Democratic party, veteran accumulator of minorities that it was, tried to accumulate by rote the Negro minority and trumpeted its cause through the tried formulae of patronage for its spokesmen, government aid, social planning and bureaucratic intervention. But since the grievances of the colored minorities were caused in part by the exploitation and exclusion practiced against them by older Democratic constituencies, something had to give, and did. The two bulwarks of the old coalition, working-class Catholics and the descendants of the Confederacy, began to defect from the Democratic party because of its identification with the newcomers.
These defectors have not yet lodged permanently in the suspect G.O.P. Many of them are in way stations-the Conservative party of New York, the Wallace movement. But they have left the Democrats and Phillips feels they have no place to go in the end but the Republican party. Hence, the emerging Republican majority that will dominate American politics until the year 2004. [snip]
Sterilized and scientific as are the terms by which Kevin Phillips plots the emerging Republican majority, its common denominator is hostility to blacks and browns among slipping Democrats and abandonment of the Democratic party because of its identification with the colored minorities. In the Northeast. the slippage is among blue-collar Catholics who find their jobs threatened and their neighborhoods and political clubhouses overrun by invading Negroes, while their erstwhile party seems to cluck approval. In the Outer South, the national Democratic party has begun to replace the G.O.P. as the symbol of alien causes-the Negro politicians and Federal interference with local autonomy. Hence, the shift to Republicanism, a trend which for the same reasons has engulfed the milder border states and will, Phillips insists, capture the perfervid Deep South when events force the abandonment of the more extreme Wallace alternative. [snip]
In the “Latin crescent “lower Florida, Louisiana, Texas-the political emergence of the Cuban and Mexican- American minorities, joined with Negroes and white radicals in a Democratic alliance, will drive the majority constituency of traditional white Democrats into the G.O.P. Phillips sees California and “the heartland.” the 25 interior states, many of which are dominated by Southern immigration patterns, as the great electoral bastion of a Republicanism that is against aid to blacks, against aid to big cities and against the liberal life style it sees typified by purple glasses, beards, long hair, bralessness, pornography, coddling of criminals and moral permissiveness run riot.
This may also be the source of the DFH meme, but I digress.
Phillips helped to create this monster and it may be why he has turned on it. He predicted a Republican majority through 2004 with the embrace of this strategy and he was right. His error was that he (and others) thought that the Republicans could and would be able to control the racism they were embracing for political expediency. They could not. And now the Republican Party has been taken over by the Confederate Party. Phillips is horrified and he should be.
Michael Steele blurted this out to the students at DePaul University and in that moment joined the effort to help celebrate CHM with the light of truth. Thanks dude, you da man. I hope they let you keep your job forever.