By Brian Gilmore
The Republican Party’s infamous “Southern Strategy” is dying, and that’s a good thing.
The re-election of Barack Obama as president with a multiracial coalition from all sections of the country is evidence that the appeal to race is finally becoming a losing hand.
Richard Nixon implemented the Southern Strategy, the idea being to get whites to vote Republican by appealing to their racial impulses. Lyndon Johnson had predicted that the traditionally Democratic South would go Republican after he signed the Voting Rights Act, and that’s what happened.
Over the years, the Southern Strategy evolved. In 1980, Ronald Reagan spoke about states’ rights when he announced that he was running for president in Philadelphia, Miss., the same city where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964 during Freedom Summer.
In 1988, George H.W. Bush surged ahead of Michael Dukakis by using the notorious Willie Horton ad, which played to white fears by using the release of a black man on parole from prison.
In April 2010, then-Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, an African-American, acknowledged that the party had pursued the Southern Strategy for 40 years. In this latest presidential election, the strategy was present again.
‘Food stamp’ president
During the GOP primaries, candidate Newt Gingrich rarely passed up an opportunity to refer to Obama as the “food stamp” president. Mitt Romney even managed to sneak in two references to food stamps during one of the presidential debates — actually, the one on foreign policy.
In August at a campaign rally, Romney joked to an audience there that “no one ever asked me for my birth certificate.” John Sununu, an adviser to the Romney campaign, commented that Obama needed to “learn how to be an American.” In the end, the country rejected these low appeals, just as the vast majority of Americans are rejecting the new secessionists who have surfaced after the election.
Brian Gilmore is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.