The 4 Rs of the GOP Part 2

Racism

Continuing the theme of the transposition of Democrat and Republican roles (or at least public images), attitudes towards minorities are probably be the clearest indicator of this particular role reversal.

The Democrats were of course the favored in the South until at least the 1970s, an allegiance more or less related to ancient history rather than current attitudes. In 1970 the ‘Southern Strategy’ was explicitly described and espoused by Nixon speechwriter, although it can be argued that the strategy probably originated with Barry Goldwater in 1964. Per usual, this was related to states’ rights, an ongoing euphemism for allowing various forms of discrimination to flourish without those pesky feds getting in the way. By the 1970s the Southern strategy (interrupted by the 1976 election of native son Jimmy Carter) was a staple of Republican campaign tactics. Political campaigns became centered on racial divisiveness, with opposition to busing and the forever popular states’ rights leading the way. Starting with his 1976 campaign Ronald Reagan endlessly harped on the ‘welfare queen’ who drove a Cadillac.*

One of the stunning recent developments is how acceptable racism and bigotry has become. The Roy Moore saga is highlighted by his creepy predatory sexual behavior. No one is mentioning his various bigoted attitudes. To be fair to Moore (eek!) his notorious ‘yellow’s and ‘reds’ quote ( http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/351194-roy-moore-refers-to-red-and-yellow-americans-in-campaign-speech ) quite possibly did refer to a biblical passage. Unfortunately during a Q & A at the same speech however he also praised the 19th century as the last period of greatness for the USA ‘even though we had slavery’ (Hmmm ….).

In a similar vein, Milo Yiannopoulos from Breitbart was a sexy new poster boy for the Brave New World of acceptable white supremacy (oops, alt-right) not until his crackpot racial views were exposed but until he espoused a fondness for boys as young as 13. He appears to be making a comeback, at least as far as being a quotable pretty boy goes.

It should not be overlooked that the sainted unifier Ronald Regan gave the speech announcing his 1980 candidacy at the Neshoba County Fair, 7 miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi. Philadelphia was the site of the Mississippi civil rights workers’ murders and Reagan harped on (surprise!) states’ rights throughout his remarks.

As a sign of things to come (or perhaps that everything old is new again) the recent election in Virginia (which was won by Democrats) featured mostly ads with racist overtones. Republican Ed Gillespie came out prominently in favor of preserving Confederate monuments (is this the new states’ rights?) and ran ads showing scary looking Latinos with the captions ‘Kill. Rape. Control’. This was tied to his opponents (falsely) alleged support for sanctuary cities, as an example of what happens when Latinos get to stay in the US.

Now, the Unites States has a deeply racist** past and much of this thinking has clearly never completely gone away, but the idea of a post-racial society has been so completely debunked that one can only be depressed by the deepening divisiveness to come. And it will get more divisive – in their mad rush to tie themselves to Trump (who has a history of racist behavior and has limited his federal appointments and nominations almost exclusively to white Christians) we will be seeing more of this.

*This person actually existed but of course the true story has much more to it than a Reagan sound bite (read about her here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2013/12/linda_taylor_welfare_queen_ronald_reagan_made_her_a_notorious_american_villain.html ) but Reagan was clearly making a larger, and very unsubtle point.

**The idea of separate ‘races’ is in itself a racist invention

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