Republicans haven't always been old white men and in an article at Salon.com by Ian Haney-Lopez, "How the GOP became the 'White Man’s Party,'" we learn a little history: "From Nixon to Rand, Republicans have banked on the unerring support of Southern white men. Here's how it came to be."
"Few names conjure the recalcitrant South, fighting integration with fire-breathing fury, like that of George Wallace. The central image of this 'redneck poltergeist,' as one biographer referred to him, is of Wallace during his inauguration as governor of Alabama in January 1963, before waves of applause and the rapt attention of the national media, committing himself to the perpetual defense of segregation. Speaking on a cold day in Montgomery, Wallace thundered his infamous call to arms: 'Today I have stood, where once Jefferson Davis stood, and took an oath to my people. It is very appropriate then that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland … we sound the drum for freedom. … In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say … segregation now … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever!'
"The story of dog whistle politics begins with George Wallace. But it does not start with Wallace as he stood that inauguration day. Rather, the story focuses on who Wallace was before, and on whom he quickly became.
"Before that January day, Wallace had not been a rabid segregationist; indeed, by Southern standards, Wallace had been a racial moderate. He had sat on the board of trustees of a prominent black educational enterprise, the Tuskegee Institute. He had refused to join the walkout of Southern delegates from the 1948 Democratic convention when they protested the adoption of a civil rights platform. As a trial court judge, he earned a reputation for treating blacks civilly—a breach of racial etiquette so notable that decades later J.L. Chestnut, one of the very few black lawyers in Alabama at the time, would marvel that in 1958 'George Wallace was the first judge to call me "Mr." in a courtroom.' The custom had been instead to condescendingly refer to all blacks by their first name, whatever their age or station. When Wallace initially ran for governor in 1958, the NAACP endorsed him; his opponent had the blessing of the Ku Klux Klan.
"In the fevered atmosphere of the South, roiled by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision forbidding school segregation, the moderate Wallace lost in his first campaign for governor. Years later, the victor would reconstruct the campaign, distilling a simple lesson: the 'primary reason I beat [Wallace] was because he was considered soft on the race question at the time. That’s the primary reason.' This lesson was not lost on Wallace, and in turn, would reshape American politics for the next half-century. On the night he lost the 1958 election, Wallace sat in a car with his cronies, smoking a cigar, rehashing the loss, and putting off his concession speech. Finally steeling himself, Wallace eased opened the car door to go inside and break the news to his glum supporters. He wasn’t just going to accept defeat, though, he was going to learn from it. As he snuffed out his cigar and stepped into the evening, he turned back: 'Well, boys,' he vowed, 'no other son-of-a-bitch will ever out-nigger me again.'
"Four years later, Wallace ran as a racial reactionary, openly courting the support of the Klan and fiercely committing himself to the defense of segregation. It was as an arch-segregationist that Wallace won the right to stand for inauguration in January 1963, allowing him to proclaim segregation today, tomorrow, and forever. Summarizing his first two campaigns for governor of Alabama, Wallace would later recall, 'you know, I started off talking about schools and highways and prisons and taxes—and I couldn’t make them listen. Then I began talking about niggers—and they stomped the floor.'
"Wallace was far from the only Southern politician to veer to the right on race in the 1950s. The mounting pressure for black equality destabilized a quiescent political culture that had assumed white supremacy was unassailable, putting pressure on all public persons to stake out their position for or against integration. Wallace figures here for a different reason, one that becomes clear in how he upheld his promise to protect segregation.
"During his campaign, Wallace had vowed to stand in schoolhouse doorways to personally bar the entrance of black students into white institutions.
|Stand Up For (White) America. Let The (White) People Speak.|
"In June 1963, he got his chance. The federal courts had ordered the integration of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and US Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach flew down from Washington, DC, to enforce the order. More than 200 national reporters and all three of the major broadcast networks were on hand for the promised confrontation. From behind a podium, Wallace stood in the June heat and raised his hand to peremptorily bar the approach of Katzenbach. Then he read a seven-minute peroration that avoided the red-meat language of racial supremacy and instead emphasized 'the illegal usurpation of power by the Central Government.' In footage carried on all three networks, the nation watched as Wallace hectored Katzenbach, culminating with Wallace declaiming, 'I do hereby denounce and forbid this illegal and unwarranted action by the Central Government.' It was pure theater, even down to white lines chalked on the ground to show where the respective thespians should stand (Katzenbach approached more closely than expected, but ultimately that only heightened the drama). Wallace knew from the start that he would back down, and after delivering his stem-winder, that is what he did. Within two hours, as expected, the University of Alabama’s first two black students were on campus.
"Over the next week, the nation reacted. More than 100,000 telegrams and letters flooded the office of the Alabama governor. More than half of them were from outside of the South. Did they condemn him? Five out of every 100 did. The other 95 percent praised his brave stand in the schoolhouse doorway.
"The nation’s reaction was an epiphany for Wallace, or perhaps better, three thunderbolts that together convinced Wallace to reinvent himself yet again. First, Wallace realized with a shock that hostility toward blacks was not confined to the South. 'He had looked out upon those white Americans north of Alabama and suddenly been awakened by a blinding vision: "They all hate black people, all of them. They’re all afraid, all of them. Great god! That’s it! They’re all Southern. The whole United States is Southern."' Wallace suddenly knew that overtures to racial resentment would resonate across the country.
"His second startling realization was that he, George Wallace, had figured out how to exploit that pervasive animosity. The key lay in seemingly non-racial language. At his inauguration, Wallace had defended segregation and extolled the proud Anglo-Saxon Southland, thereby earning national ridicule as an unrepentant redneck. Six months later, talking not about stopping integration but about states’ rights and arrogant federal authority—and visually aided by footage showing him facing down a powerful Department of Justice official rather than vulnerable black students attired in their Sunday best—Wallace was a countrywide hero. 'States’ rights' was a paper-thin abstraction from the days before the Civil War when it had meant the right of Southern states to continue slavery. Then, as a rejoinder to the demand for integration, it meant the right of Southern states to continue laws mandating racial segregation—a system of debasement so thorough that it 'extended to churches and schools, to housing and jobs, to eating and drinking … to virtually all forms of public transportation, to sports and recreations, to hospitals, orphanages, prisons, and asylums, and ultimately to funeral homes, morgues, and cemeteries.' That’s what 'states’ rights' defended, though in the language of state-federal relations rather than white supremacy. Yet this was enough of a fig leaf to allow persons queasy about black equality to oppose integration without having to admit, to others and perhaps even to themselves, their racial attitudes.
"'Wallace pioneered a kind of soft porn racism in which fear and hate could be mobilized without mentioning race itself except to deny that one is a racist,' a Wallace biographer argues. The notion of 'soft porn racism' ties directly to the thesis of 'Dog Whistle Politics.' Wallace realized the need to simultaneously move away from supremacist language that was increasingly unacceptable, while articulating a new vocabulary that channeled old, bigoted ideas. He needed a new form of racism that stimulated the intended audience without overtly transgressing prescribed social limits. The congratulatory telegrams from across the nation revealed to Wallace that he had found the magic formula. Hardcore racism showed white supremacy in disquieting detail. In contrast, the new soft porn racism hid any direct references to race, even as it continued to trade on racial stimulation. As a contemporary of Wallace marveled, 'he can use all the other issues—law and order, running your own schools, protecting property rights—and never mention race. But people will know he’s telling them 'a nigger’s trying to get your job, trying to move into your neighborhood.' What Wallace is doing is talking to them in a kind of shorthand, a kind of code.”
Finally, a third bolt of lightening struck Wallace: he could be the one! The governor’s mansion in Montgomery need not represent his final destination. He could ride the train of revamped race-baiting all the way to the White House. Wallace ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1964, and then again in 1968, 1972, and 1976. It’s his 1968 campaign that most concerns us, for there Wallace ran against a consummate politician who was quick to appreciate, and adopt, Wallace’s refashioned racial demagoguery: Richard Nixon. We’ll turn to the Wallace-Nixon race soon, but first, another set of weathered bones must be excavated—the remains of Barry Goldwater."
|And from 1968; the light blue areas voted for UBER-racist, George Wallace. The light blue areas are by default the most racist in the nation|
Next: The Rise of Racially Identified Parties and The Remains of Barry Goldwater.
Although he would be horrified at the identification, Conservative Sheeplets love to repeat the fact that Lincoln was a Republican. He would be even more disgusted by the dog whistle politics of the rightwing candidates for office, their propagandists, and their Sheeplets and fellow travelers.
Whenever you hear the Conservatives talk about "liberty" or "states' rights," you know what they mean: it's the "soft porn racism in which fear and hate could be mobilized without mentioning race itself except to deny that one is a racist," about as criminal an act that you might come up with from the rightwingers in our democratic society.
"Democrats work to help people who need help. That other party, they work
for people who don’t need help. That’s all there is to it."
Harry S. Truman.
Harry S. Truman.