Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, LBJ famously said that, by signing the bill, the Democratic Party may have lost the South for a generation. Not long afterward, Republican strategist Lee Atwater formulated the Southern Strategy, which encouraged Republicans to express their racism in more subtle ways in order to win elections.
“You start out in 1954 by saying N.…., N.…., N….. that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states rights, and all that stuff… All these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites,” said Atwater.
We’ve seen these dog whistles for racists play out in Republican politics ever since. Indeed, they’ve never been more apparent than now that we have an African-American president. Instead of using the N-word to describe President Obama, they use “de furer” [sic]. They portray him as a clown. They push for “3 strikes and you’re out” laws that fill our prisons with minorities. They support “stop and frisk” laws in our cities. And they pass restrictive voter ID laws in order to suppress minority votes.
I could cite hundreds of examples mostly generated by the “Grand Old Party” of the South.
Eventually, Atwater recognized the damage he had created. On his death bed, he apologized for his actions. But the Republican Party that embraced his views hasn’t. In fact, on what may well be the Party’s deathbed following their forced government shutdown and potential US default, much of the Republican Party, expecially its Tea Party parasites, is still clinging to Atwater’s advice.
May those who continue this strategy rot in the same hell as the Confederacy.