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From Joseph Crespino: In Search of Another Country:

ON AUGUST 4, 1964, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents recovered the mangled bodies of three civil rights workers beneath an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi....

Sixteen years later, the national spotlight shone on Philadelphia, Mississippi, for a much different reason. In 1980, Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair. Addressing a crowd of more than fifteen thousand enthusiastic supporters, Reagan invoked a mantra that had sustained a generation of southern segregationists. “I believe in states’ rights,” he told the crowd. Reagan pledged that, if he were elected, he would “restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them.” The candidate’s remarks were prepared beforehand and were not a part of his regular campaign speech; reporters following Reagan could not remember him using the term before Neshoba County. Republican officials in Mississippi had designed the visit to Neshoba County to reach out to what the Republican national committeeman in Mississippi described as “George Wallace inclined voters.”

Was Reagan a racist?  I don't know.  I can't see what is really in his heart.  What I do know is that he played off the racist sentiments in certain parts of the country (mainly the South) as part of his Southern Strategy to win over disaffected conservative Democrats like Nixon and Goldwater before him.  To these politicians racial tension was seen as an opportunity.  

Before the Democrats took ownership of the Civil Rights movement, the GOP was a party without a base.  They were Whigs of old.  A party for country clubbers and elitists with very little populist appeal.  With Democrats taking up the cause of equality the Republican party saw their opening, and the rest is history.

Romney is not so unlike his predecessors.  He is a country club type in search of a base.  Unlike McCain though, Romney has no qualms doing what is necessary to appeal to racists in the conservative movement, whom are uneasy with a black President (now known as the Tea Party).  

And like Reagan, Romney gave a whistle to a predominately white crowd that was filled with hatred for "the other":

“I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised. Where both of us were born...No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
Let's be honest.  No one asks to see Romney's birth certificate (Bush's, Clinton's, Reagan's, or Carter's for that matter) because Romney is white and Obama is black, especially considering that Romney's father was also born outside the country.

Romney has spent this entire campaign portraying Obama as "the other."  Not like you.  And last week he took it a step further by making racist jokes.  Do I think Romney himself is a racist? I don't know.  I can't see what is really in his heart.  What I do know is that he played off these racist sentiments to shore up his base.  The Southern Strategy lives on...

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Comment Preferences

  •  I knew Reagan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, GoGoGoEverton, a2nite

    Reagan was no friend of mine.

    But Romney is no Reagan.

    Reagan has spent decades defining himself.  He was a jerk but he was consistent.  

    His jokes were real jokes, not like lead a blind teacher into a door kind of jokes.

    Reagan could communicate.

    Reagan never pandered.

    The only way they are alike is that attack on the poor and the middle class to allow the rich to either take over the country or to leave the country with all of the money.

    Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

    by NCJim on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:17:25 AM PDT

  •  Reagan (0+ / 0-)

    Never seemed to have that whole aura of anger and entitlement.  That was always the problem going after him.  He complained about anonymous welfare queens and used anonymous dog whistles, but he would always find some way to soften it up -- he was careful not to offend the traditional conservative base in the party.  Romney just says whatever he thinks will get him ahead -- and right now he's decided to cast in his lot with the loonies and racists.

    Reagan would be cast out by today's Republicans as a Godless liberal.  God knows what they would do to "I am a Keynesian" Nixon or, gasp, Romney's father.

  •  I disagree, and thank FSM that he's not Reagan. nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  not all race (0+ / 0-)

    Obama's father was not an American so this gives them ammunition for conspiracies. If Obama was an American born AA of two American born parents I doubt the birther stiff would be an issue but they would go after him some other way.

  •  Reagan was a racist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The man got elected Governor in 1966 on his opposition to the Open Housing Act.  He was part of the white backlash over the the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act.  He signed an anti-busing law in 1970.  Hell, whenever he gave his "speech" on campus unrest, he would make a point of mentioning the Black Panther Party.   We always hear about Reagan's gun record, well, he signed a law outlawing the public carrying of firearms in response to the threat of the Black Panthers.  Tea Baggers can bring automatic weapons to townhalls on healthcare.   That is cool!

     In 1976, he frequently told the story of "two strapping bucks" cutting in front of white people at the grocery store and buying their welfare T-bone Steaks.  It was 1976, when he pushed the "welfare queen" tale.  The Voting Rights act was "humiliating to the South.  In 1982, when Bob Jones University was on the verge of losing its tax-exempt status due to its policy against interracial dating, he personally intervened.  In 1983 he fired three members of the Civil Rights Commission and replaced them with three "less forceful" advocates.  Reagan fought divestiture movements to end apartheid in South Africa.

    He did sign the Martin Luther King holiday only because it was passed with veto proof majorities.

    I'll end with a quote to help explain that Racism is inherent in the DNA of the modern G.O.P with a quote by a political operative who worked for Reagan and then later George Herbert Walker Bush.

    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 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. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

    Of course the G.O.P. is not racist, just ask New Gingrich or Reince Priebus.

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