|U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond|
I first saw Pat Buchanan’s column about Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy over the fourth as I checked my email that day. And because of other things I’ve done the last few days it’s just now that I’m replying about it today. But I just read Mr. Buchanan’s column about the Southern Strategy today and didn’t see much of anything in it about the Southern Strategy. Other than calling a piece in the New York Times about it calling it a “big liberal lie”. Most of what Pat Buchanan had in it was about racist policies from previous Democratic presidents from the 1940s, 30s and President Woodrow Wilson.
But let’s be real the Nixon Southern Strategy was real. Dick Nixon whatever you think about him was a brilliant man and politician and saw how America was changing politically and how he could breakthrough and complete probably the greatest comeback in American political history. Pre-civil rights movement the Democratic Party was the Southern Party representing the bible belt. And no not with Liberals, Progressives and Socialists as we see today. But with people who are called today Neoconservatives, classical Conservatives, and the Religious-Right today. As well as the far-right especially as it related to civil rights, equal rights and segregation as just flat-out racism when it came to African-Americans. And bigotry when it came to non-Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans who weren’t from the South.
The Republican Party pre-civil rights and into the civil rights movement was both a progressive and a conservative party. But there Conservatives were conservative in the classical sense and probably would be called Conservative Libertarians today. People like Senator Barry Goldwater a perfect example of that and even when House Minority Leader Gerry Ford and Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen. With the progressive wing of the party representing the Northeast and to a certain extent the Midwest. Senator Jacob Javits from New York comes to mind.
The civil rights movement and the civil rights laws of the 1960s changed that with African-Americans now backing President Lyndon Johnson and other Progressive Democrats who had similar politics. With the Southern Democrats and their voters bolting to the Republican Party. Which started to a certain extent in 1964 with Barry Goldwater for President winning a few Southern states. That campaign was a disaster in the 1964 general elections both for president and Congress with Congressional Republicans getting hammered and Senator Goldwater failing to win forty-percent of the national vote. And barely winning his home state of Arizona.
But what we saw in 1964 was Southern right-wing Democrats moving away from Lyndon Johnson and the progressive and liberal wings of the Democratic Party. And moving to the Republican Party and supporting Conservative Libertarians like Barry Goldwater. But what we also saw was what would is called the Neoconservative and religious-right base of the Republican Party today, but back in the 1960s these Democrats were simply called Southern Democrats, or the Southern Caucus in Congress, Democrats like this politicians and their supporters bolting the Democratic Party for the Republican Party.
So what started in 1964 with Barry Goldwater became an opening for Congressional Republicans both House and Senate and for Dick Nixon. A chance for Republicans and Republican leaders to break into the Democratic political monopoly in the country and bring in new Republicans to the party that were primarily from the Bible Belt. But also from the Midwest and the libertarian West. And as a result House Republicans pickup something like forty-five seats in the House in 1966. Going from a pretty small minority after 1964 to a sizable minority going into 1967. Especially since there were still a bunch of Southern right-wing Democrats in the House that could work with the Republican Leadership to stop legislation that the Democratic majority wrote.
Senate Republicans picked up three seats in 1966 going from 33-36, but it still took sixty-seven votes to prevent bills from being blocked in the Senate back them. But also there were enough Southern Democratic senators that would work with the Senate Republican Leadership to block bills from the Senate Democratic majority as well. But more importantly Dick Nixon saw this as the opening that he needed to win the presidency. Because now he saw what used to be Democratic strongholds as potential Republican pickups by appealing the religious-right in those states. What I call the Traditional Values Coalition that now dominates the Republican Party today.