Southern Strategy


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Transcript #159-1

The "Southern Strategy": From Nixon To Reagan To Limbaugh, The GOP Has Used Racism To Further Its Political Agenda

Partially hyperlinked to sources. For all sources, see the data resources page.

Your sources for this segment include:, the New York Times,, The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press.

A few podcasts ago LINK we talked about the frenzied attacks by the right-wing, against the community organizing group ACORN.
Right-wingers for months have been running around making the absurd claim that the entire financial crisis was caused by ACORN. It supposedly pressured all these huge banks into giving mortgages to those who couldn't afford them. The battering ram that ACORN used was, so it's claimed, the Community Reinvestment Act.
But as you heard in that podcast, Bush administration officials themselves said that the Community Reinvestment Act had nothing to do with the financial crisis.
I told you that the bottom line was that ACORN advocates on behalf of the poor, and many of its members are minority. ACORN registers the poor and minorities to vote. They vote heavily Democratic.
That's what's behind the right-wing attacks on ACORN.
That, and using ACORN as a wedge issue distraction, like gay marriage, to take the eyes of the average American away from the policies of the right that are impoverishing them.
Let me today now expand on this, and explicitly name that wedge issue being utilized here, as well as put the ACORN attacks in a larger historical perspective.

The wedge issue being used here is racism, and its use is part of a nearly half-century premeditated and institutionalized GOP pattern of stirring up racial hatred, appealing to those with racist views, for political gain.

Listen to Rush Limbaugh recently:
audio: Rush Limbaugh

People are finally standing up to this little boy, this little man-child President, whose primary job, if you want, in life, has been leisure. This guy is practiced at leisure more than anything else.

Limbaugh on multiple occasions has referred to Obama as a "little boy" and a "man-child" This is not a one-time thing, an unfortunate phrase that slipped out. It's conscious and deliberate.
What's Rush doing?
Part of the same GOP pattern of racism.
We'll get back to current-day Rush in a bit after we review this institutionalized pattern.
In the 1960's, as the civil rights struggle heated up, the Republican party developed what came to be known as the "Southern strategy."
The Southern strategy was designed to get the support of Southern whites who were upset that Democrats had led the effort to protect the civil and voting rights of African Americans.
Race would be used as a wedge issue, and racial polarization would produce white votes for the Republicans.
Richard Nixon was the first to employ the southern strategy in a presidential campaign.
The existence of the Southern strategy is something you should never let a right-winger deny. You can quote some prominent right-wingers themselves.
The late Lee Atwater was the grand pappy of all the Republican dirty campaign, dirty tricks, vicious politics of personal destruction campaign strategists. Karl Rove was a disciple of Lee Atwater.
In 1981, Lee Atwater gave a telling magazine interview. Before I read you Atwater's words, let me mention that instead of the racial epithet that rhymes with “trigger” that Atwater uses, I’m going to use the term “N-word.”
This is what Lee Atwater said in that interview:

You start out in 1954 by saying ‘N-word, N-word, N-word.’ By 1968, you can’t say ‘N-word.’ That hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

Is what a right-winger who was there at the creation said, not good enough? How about an admission made just a few months ago? Michael Steele is the current Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He said:

The Republican Party walked away from the black community in the late 1960s. It was stupid. It was dumb to pursue a southern strategy…

Existence of the Southern strategy, undeniable.

How effective has the GOP's Southern strategy been?
Too effective.
The story is told, that as President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he said to an aide "We have lost the South for a generation."
That was two generations ago and counting. Southern whites still vote overwhelmingly for the GOP.
LBJ underestimated. He didn't count on an overt and sustained GOP Southern strategy.
Along these lines, how about we turn now to a favorite subject of mine, the racism of Ronald Reagan and its relation to the Republican Southern strategy.
How many times have you been speaking to a right-winger, and they will bring up how wonderful Ronald Reagan was? He did this and he accomplished that. He had these principles and those principles. Why, you would think that the right-winger has an altar to Ronald Reagan set up in his or her own house.
Sean Hannity proudly declares on virtually every show, that he's a Reagan conservative.
You know I always say, that we can't spend all our time countering right-wing talking points. We need to go on the offensive. Right-wingers are the ones who should always be playing defense, because of destruction they cause in virtually every field of human endeavor.
So here's a great way to go on the offensive. About Ronald Reagan's racism.
Let's address the questions: Was Reagan a racist? Did he follow the Southern strategy?
Most definitely and most definitely again.
In the intro to today's show, I said I would tell you about the five pillars of Reagan's racism.
Here they are.
Number one:

Right wing icon Ronald Reagan opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Huh? Who except the Ku Klux Klan or its fellow travelers would oppose such a measure? What kind of a human being would say it's okay for a restaurant to refuse to serve someone because of their race? To deny a person the right to check into a hotel, because they were African-American? To refuse to hire someone, because they are of a race different than your own?

Ronald Reagan, apparently.
Remember, I don't know what was in Reagan's heart. But I can and will tell you what actions he took, and what the effects were. And if Ronald Reagan's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act had become the majority position in Congress, well then, restaurants, hotels and employers would have been able to continue their discriminatory policies.
Up next: more of the five pillars of Ronald Reagan's racism. Stay tuned.

Maybe, a right-winger will argue, there was something in the wording of that particular piece of legislation, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that Reagan didn't like. He really wasn't opposed to civil rights for all.
Sorry, not so.
Because the very next year, Reagan opposed the other major piece of civil rights legislation of that era, the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
It prohibited the use of literacy tests, poll taxes and the like to deny an American citizen the right to vote because of their race. This had been standard practice throughout the South.
Again, I ask you, what kind of a person would oppose such a law? What kind of a person would want African-Americans to continue to be disenfranchised?
Apparently again, Ronald Reagan.
You know, I can already hear right-wingers offering another lame excuse: maybe Reagan was wrong back then, but by the time he became president, he had stopped advocating racist positions.
Again, you can easily prove the right-winger, wrong.
Your third pillar of Ronald Reagan's racism skips forward in time to 1980, when he began his presidential campaign.

Reagan chose to give a campaign speech -- some say it was the kickoff speech to his campaign, others say it really wasn't, to me it's irrelevant -- Reagan chose to give a campaign speech outside of the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

The only thing Philadelphia, Mississippi was known for, was the brutal murder outside that town in 1964 of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. They had gone there to help African-Americans register to vote.
Did Reagan express sorrow for their deaths when he spoke outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi? After all, the FBI's investigation was still open. The case had drawn international attention. What better way for Reagan to erase the stain on himself for having opposed both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act?
No, Reagan was not there to mend his ways, to ask for forgiveness, to do the right thing. He was there to further the GOP's Southern strategy.
He didn't mention the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner at all. That alone speaks volumes. And it gets worse.
Reagan also didn't apologize for his opposition to the Civil and Voting Rights Acts. But that's still not the worst of it.
Worst of all, Reagan told the nearly all-white crowd, that "I believe in states rights." Remember what GOP strategy guru Lee Atwater said about that term?
By 1968, you can’t say ‘N-word.’ That hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like…states’ rights…

Reagan was giving a Dixie dog whistle to all the racists in the South. At the very place where civil rights workers were murdered. And where that white community was still protecting the murderers.

Reagan's horrifically racist behavior did not go unnoticed at the time.
Andrew Young had been a stalwart of the civil rights movement, a colleague and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. He would later become a Congressman, Mayor of Atlanta, and Ambassador to the United Nations.
At the time, he was a campaign aide to Reagan's opponent, President Jimmy Carter.

Let me read you Andrew Young's impassioned words from 1980:

[W]hen you go to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where James Chaney, Andy Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were killed — murdered — by the sheriff and the deputy sheriff and a government posse protecting states' rights, and you go down there and start talking about states' rights, that looks like a code word to me that it’s going to be all right to kill [N-word's] when he’s President.

Hey, Mr. or Ms. Right-Winger who may be listening, are you still so proud of your hero, Ronald Reagan?

So much for Reagan changing his ways.
And there's more. Reagan kept it up.
In a moment, the rest of the pillars of Ronald Reagan's racism, and then back to the present with Rush Limbaugh. Stick around.

Here's the fourth pillar of Ronald Reagan's racism:

In the early 1980's, the campaign to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday was coming to a head. You can imagine, I'm sure, what type of person was supporting such an effort, and what type of person was in opposition. And yes, there he was, the Gipper, in all his Southern strategy glory, opposing making Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday.
Once a racist, always a racist, at least with some, it seems.
Ok, for the fifth pillar of Ronald Reagan's racism, we go international. In the 1980's, the entire world community was uniting in opposition to the South African government's racist apartheid policy. An international boycott of South Africa was launched to pressure the South African government to allow its black citizens to vote, and otherwise to dismantle apartheid.
Guess who was not on board? Yup, Ronald Reagan opposed the international boycott of South Africa. Instead, Reagan insisted that quiet diplomacy would work. He called his policy "constructive engagement." Bull. You know what it was.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the main leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. After he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Archbishop Tutu addressed the U.S. Congress and had some choice words for Ronald Reagan. According to a contemporaneous news account, Tutu said apartheid

is evil, is immoral, is un-Christian...

In my view, the Reagan Administration's support and collaboration with it is equally immoral, evil and totally un-Christian.

You are either for or against apartheid, and not by rhetoric. You are either in favor of evil, or you are in favor of good. You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor. You can't be neutral.

Bishop Tutu than concluded with this broadside, telling the lawmakers that Reagan's policy of "constructive engagement"

has encouraged the white racist regime into escalated intransigence and oppression.

Immoral, evil and totally un-Christian. Ronald Reagan's policies.

Encouraged the white racist regime into escalated intransigence and oppression. Ronald Reagan's policies.
And it's all of a piece, isn't it, with Reagan's opposition to the Civil Rights Act, his opposition to the Voting Rights Act, Reagan's lauding of "states' rights" where civil rights workers were murdered, and his opposition to honoring another Nobel Prize-winning man of African descent, Dr. Martin Luther King.
Any one of these alone and I would say, this person is a racist. There's no other explanation besides prejudice combined with the intent and power to injure -- denying rights or recognition, or stirring up others to be prejudiced and to take action to injure.
But all five taken together?
My goodness, could it be any more plain?
Go on the offensive, and challenge your friendly local right-winger, how can a man who took such racist actions as Ronald Reagan, possibly be your hero? How? How?

Coming back to the present, I trust you can clearly see by now, that the modern-day GOP does not have a very good lineage on the racism issue.

So listen again to 2009 Rush Limbaugh:

audio: Rush Limbaugh

People are finally standing up to this little boy, this little man-child President, whose primary job, if you want, in life, has been leisure. This guy is practiced at leisure more than anything else.

Limbaugh doesn't even have the grace, the finesse -- if such words can be used to describe the invocation of racism…probably not -- Limbaugh doesn't even bother with code words like states' rights.

Limbaugh goes right for a level of racist invective just below explicitly using the N-word.
In the segregated South, one of the means of control of the African-American population was humiliation, to constantly show who was in control, and who was being controlled. One of the ways African-American men were humiliated, was by being called "Boy." It didn't matter their age. Or the age of the white person calling them that. A white teenager could address an 85 year-old black grandfather, and tell him "Boy, get over here."
Limbaugh knows this. Every time he calls Limbaugh a little boy, a man-child, it's Limbaugh's Dixie dog whistle to the racists: "We all know what Obama is, don't we?"
Another of the more vicious racist stereotypes, is the "lazy Negro." Totally obscene to apply that pejorative to the ethnic group which was worked to death in slavery and built so much of our nation as slaves.
Limbaugh said Obama's "primary job" in life has been leisure. That Obama is "more practiced at leisure" than anything else.
How crystal clear is this explicit harkening back to the old racist stereotype of the lazy Negro?
And of course, Limbaugh applying it to Obama is even more absurd, since Obama started out with little in life and achieved his academic and then political success through nothing other than intelligence, hard work and determination. I may not like many of his policies now, but I can certainly recognize that Obama's life story is the precise opposite of that of a George W. Bush-type, born with a silver spoon in his mouth situation.
To close, let me take you back again briefly to 1980, when Reagan made his infamous, Dixie-dog-whistle campaign appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi. What happened after that, or more accurately, didn't happen, in the political realm, is instructive to us today.

Even though Andrew Young as one of Jimmy Carter's campaign aides did speak up, the Carter campaign itself decided not to call Reagan out on his racism.

They apparently decided that that would have been a loser politically. It would have overshadowed the agendas they want to push, which at the time were "arms control, relief for poor people, and health care."
The more things change, huh…
Anyway, as recently observed in the Congressional Quarterly:
Some think that Carter, and the Democrats in general, missed an opportunity to unmask the Republicans’ “Southern strategy” for what it was, on the theory that no right-thinking American would want to be associated with racism.

And many no doubt feel the same today…

Yes, I'm certainly one progressive that does feel the same today. How about you?
Do you not heartily agree that we need to make explicit the continued GOP racism, their continued Southern strategy?
The majority of Americans, much, much more so now even than back in 1980, will respond with disgust and reject Limbaugh and his ilk.
So yes, you should push back hard on this, with a strong blow -- verbal of course -- with a strong blow to the solar plexus of right-wing racism that continues to infect our nation.
Maybe then you and I can see a major shrinking of the influence of hate-peddlers like Limbaugh, a shrinking that is, is it not, so long overdue?

Transcript #159-2

Health Care QuickBlast

Partially hyperlinked to sources. For all sources, see the data resources page.

What would a podcast be without health care?

So a one-minute QuickBlast here to wrap up the show.
Your source is the New York Times.

Guess what? The GOP has come up with its very own health care plan. So now we can put them on the defensive by criticizing it, instead of having to defend the Democratic plan -- a plan, by the way, I'm none too happy with, and may even prefer to see not passed. I'm still thinking about it, and waiting to see the final details. More on that next show.

Anywho, instead of having to defend a Democratic plan which is far from perfect, make the right-wingers defend the GOP plan.
And here's the killer criticism:
According to the Congressional Budget Office -- whose analyses the right-wing has been touting when critical of the Democratic proposals -- according to the Congressional Budget Office, the GOP plan would leave the same percentage of Americans uninsured in 10 years, as now.
What the heck kind of a plan is that?
It accomplishes nothing in that realm of covering the uninsured.
Zero. Nada. Zilch.
It leaves the same percentage of Americans uninsured in 10 years, as are now.
Challenge your friendly local right-winger to defend that!


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