The Republican party’s “southern strategy”

I’m back from my vacation and just spent the last hour or two catching up on a week’s worth of Power Line. Great job, guys.
Just before I left, I read the Washington Post’s story on Strom Thurmond’s death. Since you guys posted Adam Clymer’s piece on Thurmond (as well as Mark Steyn’s) I thought I would add the Post’s contribution. It is a hatchet job, but not an intelligent one. Essentially it contains two themes: first that Thurmond helped devise the “southern strategy” through which the Republicans capitalized on the racism of white southerners, and second that Thurmond was an opportunist who saved his political career by abandoning his segregationist positions and accommodating, as early as 1971, the interests and views of his African-American constituents. The author of the piece, one J. Y. Smith, seems only dimly aware of the tension between the two prongs of his hatchet job. If, by 1971, Thurmond “realized that the tide of civil rights could not be turned back [and] embraced a policy of racial inclusion,” then it’s difficult to see how he could have been the architect of a successful strategy based on an “appeal to white resentment” over racial inclusion.
In reality, the “policy of racial inclusion” embraced by Thurmond is part of the Republican party’s “southern strategy.” The “strategy” consists of taking positions agreeable to African-Americans except to the extent that those positions conflict with race-neutral conservative principles. The success of the Republican party in the south, like the success of Thurmond, is a function, not of racism, but of the popularity of race-neutral conservative principles in that region.


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