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The myth of a Southern Strategy
Richard Nixon was the most maligned president in U.S. history until Donald Trump came along. Democrats still hate Nixon because he opposed communists in America early and often. He knew Moscow funded the American Communist Party four decades before the press admitted it — and only after the Soviet Union fell did the press report it.
Watergate was a frame up. He never knew about the plan to bug the DNC. But he had passed Mark Felt over as J. Edgar Hoover’s successor at the FBI, and so the deep state removed Nixon from office less than two years after his record landslide re-election.
The same press that created Watergate has defended Obama using the FBI to spy on President Trump. The press still insists there was a Russiagate that allowed a Democrat to use the government to spy on a Republican critic.
The biggest lie against Nixon was a Southern Strategy. I will allow the Washington Post to define it.
The Post said on July 26, 2019, “Most Americans have heard the story of the Southern strategy: The Republican Party, in the wake of the civil rights movement, decided to court Southern white voters by capitalizing on their racial fears. Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater first wielded this strategy in 1964 and Richard Nixon perfected it in 1968 and 1972, turning the solidly Democratic South into a bastion of Republicanism.”
The Washington Post lied. Nixon rejected the Southern Strategy. In 1968, he received but 13.52% of the votes in Mississippi — a state that had given Goldwater 87.14% of its vote four years earlier. Nixon supported civil rights and the end of segregation in both words and deeds.
Republicans tried for nearly a century to end lynching and to codify civil rights. Democrat segregationists from the 11 Confederate states filibustered it.
The Nixon Foundation reported, “During his second term as vice president, Nixon shepherded through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. The 1957 legislation empowered the Justice Department to prosecute civil rights cases through a newly established Civil Rights Division, and allowed federal prosecutors to obtain court injunctions when the citizens’ right to vote was being obstructed.
“Nixon’s role proved to be crucial in Congress. He was vocal about the administration’s civil rights goals, and serving in his constitutional role as President of the U.S. Senate, he helped lead the effort to bring the bill to the Senate floor.
“Though Southern Democrats opposed and blocked provisions that would give the Justice Department authority to protect broad constitutional rights including school desegregation, and voting rights violations — civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. told Vice President Nixon that it was ‘much better than no bill at all… we can at least be sure that we are moving steadily ahead.’”
The fact is, the Southern Strategy as described by the Washington Post failed miserably. Barry Goldwater carried only five of the 11 Confederate states and his home state of Arizona using that strategy in 1964.
Nixon rejected Goldwater’s Southern Strategy four years later — and took 5 of the 6 Confederate states that LBJ took in his landslide. Democrats took all the Goldwater states. The percentages of the votes for Nixon by state in 1968 reflect that.
Those were the Goldwater states. Wallace won every one of them with Nixon finishing third in all but Georgia, where he barely beat out Humphrey.
The LBJ states embraced Nixon.
Florida 40.53% (won)
North Carolina 39.51% (won)
South Carolina 38.09% (won)
Tennessee 37.85% (won)
Virginia 43.36 (won)
Sure, four years later, Nixon took all 11 Confederate states. But he also took every other state in the country except Massachusetts. If you want to call that a Southern Strategy then your south extends to Alaska.
Jimmy Carter would take 10 of those 11 states back four years later. And of course Clinton and Gore did well in the Confederate states. Were they dog whistling Dixie?
The real Southern Strategy belonged to Democrats who took every single Confederate state after Reconstruction in 10 presidential elections until 1920, when Tennessee defected and went to Harding. The 11 went back to Democrats in the next election but Hoover took 5 Southern states.
FDR’s Southern Strategy took back those 11 Confederate states but 4 broke for the segregationist States’ Rights Democratic Party in 1948.
Ike (with Nixon as his VP) took 4 of the 11 in 1952 and 6 in 1956 — the first Republican majority in the South since Reconstruction. America was changing. A nation that was 85% white wanted to end treating blacks as second-class citizens.
The unsung hero of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen who worked with LBJ to break the filibuster and get the bill passed. Only 33 of the 100 senators were Republican but Dirksen delivered 27 votes.
In the Senate, the Republican vote was 27 yea, 6 nay — 82%.
Democrats were 44 yea, 23 nay — 66%.
Political mythology says Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) flipped Republican. Not true. Only 1 of those 23 segregationists — Strom Thurmond — flipped parties.
In fact, Democrats later made segregationist Bob Byrd, a former exalted cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, their Senate leader!
The 1964 Civil Rights Act did not usher in an era of Republicanism in the South. Democrats held the majority of congressional seats in those 11 states for another 30 years until the Gingrich Revolution in 1994.
State legislatures remained solidly Democrat even longer. Mississippi's state government remained firmly in Democrat hands until 1991, when Republican Kirk Fordice won the office. He was the first Republican governor of that state since Reconstruction, which ended after the 1876 election.
However, not until 2011 did Republicans win the Mississippi House. That was 47 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law. Clearly, civil rights did not flip Mississippi to the Republicans.
Alabama? H. Guy Hunt became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1987 — 23 years after the civil rights act. Its legislature flipped Republican in the 2010 election.
Arkansas? Winthrop Rockefeller became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1967. However, the House did not flip Republican until 2013.
Georgia? Sonny Perdue became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 2003. The House remained Democrat until in 2005.
Louisiana? Dave Treen became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1980. The House remained Democrat until 2010.
North Carolina? James Holshouser became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1973. The House remained Democrat until 2010.
South Carolina? James B. Edwards became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1975. The House remained Democrat until 1994.
Texas? Bill Clements became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1978. The House flipped in 2003.
And so on and so forth. Democrats are not dummies. LBJ knew times had changed and Americans wanted segregation to end. Black troops had acquitted themselves well in World War II. Also, television had made segregation so ugly that it was indefensible. Besides, he knew the South had other issues and entrenched Democrats would hold on to the states for at least another generation.
Actually, it was two generations before most Southern legislatures flipped Republican.
Tarring Nixon as a racist is like saying Lincoln did not emancipate slaves. Democrats do that too.
Now for today’s TOTALLY SCIENTIFIC POLL — peer-reviewed by my cat.