The Southern Strategy is dead.
If there’s any lesson we need to learn from the recent presidential election, it’s that the GOP’s time-tested strategy for victory no longer works. It expired on Election Day 2012 and then shat its deathbed, not once, but twice.
First, the noted liberal weekly The Nation released a 1981 audio interview of the late, hate GOP strategist Lee Atwater speaking candidly about the true nature of the 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, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites .… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Thanks for the reminder, Lee, you nasty little chancre sore on the underside of George Wallace’s ass. If there’s anything that Americans need to be reminded of right now is just how far the Republican Party has descended into the depths of race-baiting douchebaggery and exactly how it ended up a cesspool of angry white men spouting angry white thoughts about the things that make angry white men piss their pantaloons — you know, namely that they’re quickly becoming outnumbered.
The second deathbed shat happened yesterday. Not only did the world get to hear Mitt Romney express his true feelings about his Election Day loss — the one-time Massachusetts governor whined that Obama offered “gifts” to the African-American and Latino communities as well as college-aged women and in turn won their support — GOP milquetoaster Bobby Jindal of Louisiana immediately let it be known that this sort of Southern Strategy bigotry doesn’t cut it in today’s GOP, that is if the Republican Party ever hopes to retake the White House. Jindal said:
“I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think it’s absolutely wrong. I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party. And that has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election. If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly. One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period. No exceptions.”
Gov. Jindal isn’t the only GOPer to bemoan the Republican Party’s insistence on courting angry white men and angry white men only. There’s U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Back during the 2012 GOP Convention, Graham had this to say: “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Then in the days leading up to the election, Graham reiterated this point once again: “If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts … We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”
And let us not forget about rising GOP star Marco Rubio, who not only ripped the Republican Party’s addiction to bigotry but criticized folks like himself for not putting a stop to it earlier. Months ago, Rubio told the Hispanic Leadership Network, “For those of us who come from the conservative movement, we must admit that there are those among us who have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable, inexcusable … We must admit, myself included, that sometimes we’ve been too slow in condemning that rhetoric.”
However, as right as Rubio, Graham, and Jindal are and as clear as it is that the Southern Strategy will no longer work at the national level, you can bet your bottom’s ball gag that at the state level it’s going to be around for a long time, especially in South Carolina.
Yes, Nikki Haley may have won the Governor’s Mansion beauty pageant and Tim Scott may be a member of the Capitol Hall country club, but hate still sells in the Palmetto State. And there’s no better example of this then what happened during the SCGOP presidential primary. Instead of going with the establishment candidate like South Carolinians are prone to do, they voted for a walking, talking colostomy bag named Newt Gingrich, who spurted out bigoted bon mots in which he called President Obama a “Kenyan anti-colonialist” and a “food stamp president.” Oh and then he called black people lazy.
Lee Atwater couldn’t have said it better himself.