Dick Polman reviews the origins of the contemporary Republican Party and of the New Secesh. Do please follow the link and read the rest.
Fifty years ago yesterday, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which banned segregation in public accomodations. The act had been passed with major help from moderate congressional Republicans. But two weeks after LBJ put pen to paper, Republicans lurched sharply to the right. They nominated, as their ’64 presidential candidate, a guy who had voted against the Civil Rights Act. And thus, under Barry Goldwater, the modern conservative movement was launched.
In other words, just as America was finally poised to reject institutional racism, the GOP made common cause with the people (primarily, southern whites) who liked institutional racism. Sadly, Goldwater’s reactionary fervor, at the expense of African Americans, became a foundational cornerstone of the conservative moment.
Goldwater wasn’t personally racist, but his rhetoric was packed with what we now call “dog whistles.” Angry whites deciphered his code phrases, and they got the message loud and clear.
I was detailed to paint the corn stack in the summer of 1964 and listened to coverage of the Republican Convention on my portable radio as I worked. At the time, Jim Crow was still in force and the school I attended was still all-white.
As a child of the Jim Crow South, I can attest that we all knew while it was happening that Goldwater and his Republican Party were on our side and on the side of preserving segregation and what grown-ups referred to as “our way of life.”
Remember, when someone says “states’ rights,” ask, “States’ rights to do just what exactly?”