Us south census

 

Previous mention was made in this space about the political pole-shift between the Democratic and Republican Parties. Abraham Lincoln was the first to be elected president under the aegis of the Grand Old (Republican) Party. The rebellious Southern Confederates, in essence, were former Democrats. It was only natural for those who previously were human chattel to glom onto the liberating Republicans. This grateful dedication would prove to be to their detriment. The Black Laws and the Ku Klux Klan all but eliminated African American participation in the Southern voting process. The great northward emigration of African Americans from the Southern States took along with it the imprimatur of Lincoln’s Republican Party of salvation.

 

Enter the Great Depression. Republican President Herbert Hoover is defeated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). With his New Deal and plethora of alphabet agencies, FDR became the savior for the downtrodden of all races. He captured hearts and votes from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Thus,the Solid South was fortified by the cement of any amount of Black participation that happened to squeeze in between the cracks. That is how it remained for the whole of the unprecedented, Rooseveltian four terms.

 

FDR expired just before the end of World War II. His Democratic successor Harry S. Truman found himself at the helm of the newly launched USS Pax Americana, which would be welcomed in many needy ports around the devastated, post-war world. With the U.S. now evangelizing for democratic republics to replace Old World colonization, African Americans in the South began to clamor for inclusion in the election process. (This writer was with a group of friends, participating in the atmosphere outside Philadelphia’s Convention Hall as Truman was being nominated to run against Thomas Dewey.) As African Americans slowly made progress in the South, it still remained faithfully Democratic for all involved.

 

The prestige and politically middle-of-the road attitude of Dwight D. Eisenhower was much-too-much for elite Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. There was a pitiful, non-parade for Stevenson down sparsely populated Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Stevenson drove by, waving to passersby who seemed to wonder who he was. (This writer was a witness to that spectacle, and later, asa member of the choir directed by the prestigious Hall Johnson, we were invited to sing at the Eisenhower nomination convention in that same city.) John F. Kennedy still commanded a full-court press of Democrats of all stripes. Lyndon Baines Johnson was an overwhelming Democratic victor over the hapless Barry Goldwater who, despite his invention of the GOP’s race-baiting dog-whistle won only deep-South states and his native Arizona.

 

Richard Nixon came bouncing back on the national stage, re-working Goldwater’s Southern Strategy into his own image. He extended and improved upon the noxious dog-whistle in Republican politics. The strategy included the undisguised innuendo of painting African Americans as lazy, dependent, criminal and with other negative terms redolent of ghetto-laced rhetoric with which disaffected Whites would be lured into the Republican Party. It worked; Nixon cleaned the boards. After the Watergate mess, Jimmy Carter was able to bring the Democrats back for a short stint. Ronald Reagan, borrowing from Nixon’s Southern Strategy, continued the dog-whistle war against welfare queens and the continued progress of African Americans in the political system. The dissolution of the Solid South continued. The racially liberal attitude of George W. Bush hushed the dog-whistle in presidential politics, but by then the practice was well established in local political parlance. Whistlin’ Dixie was heard throughout the land.

 

With the election of Barack Obama, the dog-whistle became a symphony, with each instrument of the orchestra contributing to the central theme of, Get your black ass our of our White House! Such a violation of natural order could not be controlled simply by whistling Dixie; a new Dixie had to be created. While the throngs were cheering the new president in the icy capital, Republican governors met in secret conspiracy in order to devise methods on how, through state legislatures – not on how to increase voting for the Republican Party – rather, on how to decrease voting for the Democratic Party. They have passed voting laws that negatively target African Amercans and other minorities, young people and college students. The results are now self-evident around the country.

 

With these last mid-year elections, the Southern Strategy was complete. The former, Solid Blue South turned completely red, with every state singing in unison:

 

…We’re glad we’re red in Dixie,

Hooray, hooray.

We’ll live and die in Dixie…

 

*****     *****     *****

 

There was this guy over sixty,

Sneakin’ around like a pixie.

He said, “By my gun…” –

When asked what he’d done—

 

“…Nuthin’ – just here, whistlin’ Dixie.”

 

 

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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