Hey remember the history liars at Dennis Prager’s “Prager University”? Since their bullshit video about how Democrats are totally the KKK got tweeted all over the place after Kanye West got history all wrong a couple weeks back, they’re hoping that the magic will strike twice. So now they’re reupping a 2017 video that pretends to debunk the notion that there was ever any such thing as the “Southern Strategy,” in which Richard Nixon decided to get real jiggy with MORE RACISM. No no no, say the erudite fellows of Prager U! The only reason the parties realigned in the South is because Republicans won over the region with their message of family values and limited government. Was there even a Southern Strategy? Of course not. It’s all just a myth made up by liberal academics in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and maybe a little bit of Lee Atwater, shhh don’t spoil it for them.
Get ready to have your mind blown by five minutes of TRUTH, narrated by Dr. Carol Swain, a now-retired history professor from Vanderbilt.
We hope Swain’s actual academic work was better than this. These five minutes certainly won’t pass peer review, or even the smell test. Happily, real historian Kevin Kruse has done a thorough debunking of the video, helped along by “Prager U’s” own transcript of the nonsense. (Like Prager’s Twitter re-up of the “Southern Strategy” vid, Kruse is also following up on his own detailed dismantling of Kanye’s “Democrats=KKK” myth — though Kruse’s debunkings are fresh work, not reruns from last year.) Rather than repeat all of Kruse’s detailed points, we’ll just hit a few lowlights.
The Big Fibs actually start right in the first paragraph:
Once upon a time, every student of history – and that meant pretty much everyone with a high school education – knew this: The Democratic Party was the party of slavery and Jim Crow, and the Republican Party was the party of emancipation and racial integration.
Democrats were the Confederacy and Republicans were the Union. Jim Crow Democrats were dominant in the South and socially tolerant Republicans were dominant in the North.
But then, in the 1960s and 70s, everything supposedly flipped: Suddenly the Republicans became the racists and the Democrats became the champions of civil rights.
Fabricated by left-leaning academic elites and journalists, the story went like this: Republicans couldn’t win a national election by appealing to the better nature of the country; they could only win by appealing to the worst. Attributed to Richard Nixon, the media’s all-purpose bad guy, this came to be known as “The Southern Strategy.”
Nope, nope nope, not true. I’d really like to see any history textbook published in the 1950s or ’60s — outside of, say, Bob Jones University — that presented that simplistic party divide as real history. Educated people never thought that, because it’s revisionist rubbish that’s actually of fairly recent vintage. One of the chief propagandists for the idea is of course Dinesh D’Souza, who certainly didn’t come up with it on his own, but made it a central part of his awful Hillary Clinton movie.
As Kruse points out (in a third Twitter thread, on shifts in the GOP), this is “deeply ahistorical”: The Southern Strategy wasn’t invented by leftist academics after the fact; it was covered extensively while it was happening.
After the 1962 midterms, when segregationist Republicans made notable inroads across the South, nearly winning some more Senate seats and taking more House spots, a new path for the GOP seemed clear.
Pundits, like Joe Alsop here, increasingly called it "the Southern Strategy." pic.twitter.com/y2oGJ56zm4
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) May 7, 2018
That Joseph Alsop column is from 1962 (read the full thing here). Shame on him for coming from some future history book by a leftist to coin the phrase. Now we just need Dinesh D’Souza to insist no one’s ever heard of Alsop.
Fine, we can’t hit everything. So let’s laugh at the three supposed myths that liberal historians supposedly invented to create the Southern Strategy after it never really happened. Needless to say, all three are cherry-picked hooey:
Myth Number One: In order to be competitive in the South, Republicans started to pander to white racists in the 1960s.
Fact: Republicans actually became competitive in the South as early as 1928, when Republican Herbert Hoover won over 47 percent of the South’s popular vote against Democrat Al Smith.
That would be Roman Catholic Al Smith, at a time when the KKK ranked its anti-Catholicism right up there with its hatred of Jews and blacks, and good Southern Baptists wouldn’t dream of voting for a Catholic, who would surely be nothing but a puppet of Popery. (My adopted father, born in 1899 in Texas, briefly belonged to the KKK in the ’20s, and my mother told me he’d said the meetings involved drinking beer, burning a cross, and griping about dark deeds the Catholics were up to. After meeting my mom, he converted to Catholicism.)
Oh, there’s more, of course:
In 1952, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower won the southern states of Tennessee, Florida and Virginia. And in 1956, he picked up Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, too. And that was after he supported the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools; and after he sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock Central High School to enforce integration.
Yup, all those Southerners still supported Eisenhower in 1956, even after the Little Rock crisis. Of 1957. Seems Joseph Alsop isn’t the only time traveler!
Then there’s myth #2, which D’Souza and others have trumpeted as the biggest disproof ever of the idea of party realignment. See if you can spot why it’s shitty evidence!
Myth Number Two: Southern Democrats, angry with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, switched parties.
Fact: Of the 21 Democratic senators who opposed the Civil Rights Act, just one became a Republican. The other 20 continued to be elected as Democrats, or were replaced by other Democrats. On average, those 20 seats didn’t go Republican for another two-and-a-half decades.
For one thing, this leaves out the Dixiecrats leaving the Democrats in 1948 after Harry Truman started pushing desegregation and young whippersnapper Hubert Humphrey made a speech condemning segregation at the Convention. And hey, who was the one senator who actually switched parties? That would have been Strom Thurmond, the Dixiecrats’ 1948 nominee. (Quiz: Was it a Republican or a Democrat who had to step down as Senate Majority Leader in 2002 after saying “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years” if only Thurmond had won in 1948?)
For another thing, voting patterns are not the same as individual members of the Senate changing parties — the Rs wanted Thurmond, and brokered a deal whereby he could keep his seniority if he became a Republican. Other segregationist Dems might have switched too, but they didn’t have the suction to pull a similar seniority deal. See Kruse’s thread on the Republican realignment for the real lesson: Dixiecrats held onto their seniority, but urged their successors to run as Republicans. And the voters followed.
Finally, the third supposedly inarguable bit of cherry-picking:
Myth Number Three: Since the implementation of the Southern Strategy, the Republicans have dominated the South.
Fact: Richard Nixon, the man who is often credited with creating the Southern Strategy, lost the Deep South in 1968. In contrast, Democrat Jimmy Carter nearly swept the region in 1976 – 12 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And in 1992, over 28 years later, Democrat Bill Clinton won Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. The truth is, Republicans didn’t hold a majority of southern congressional seats until 1994, 30 years after the Civil Rights Act.
Nicely done! Say, Mr Kruse, why didn’t Nixon win the South in 1968?
No, Nixon didn't win the Deep South in 1968! But neither did the Democratic candidate that year.
Segregationist George Wallace, who'd run as an independent (after flirting with a switch to the GOP in 1964), won the Deep South.
And oh, Nixon won it all the next time around. pic.twitter.com/keXdzru97n
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) May 15, 2018
And again, Carter and Clinton, both Southerners, were outliers, not typical of Southern voters. As Kruse puts it,
Southerners won some of the South! Right!
This is only a “gotcha” if you think the realignment story is one where everything changed overnight in 1964. Again, no academic argues that.
Funny, Republicans seemed awfully enthusiastic about opposing Barack Obama, but probably only because they cared so much about his assaults on the Constitution, you know. And we sure haven’t seen many Democrats trying to get elected based on defending Confederate monuments as a vital part of “our” heritage. But don’t worry, says the video: There’s no racism in the Republican party, because just look at how South Carolina voted for Tim Scott, amen.
Also, Lee Atwater never existed, and he never described the genius of the Southern Strategy in 1981:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Prager never mentions Atwater. D’Souza never mentions him either. We bet his career as a top adviser to Ronald Reagan, as chair of the RNC, and as Geortge HW Bush’s campaign manager were all just inventions of leftist academics and the liberal media, who keep lying about him on Wikipedia to fool you.
In conclusion, there never was a Southern Strategy, and Doktor Zoom admits he’s the son of a Klansman, just like all Democrats, the end.
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