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Author Topic: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy  (Read 655 times)

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Offline VekseidTopic starter

Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« on: November 14, 2012, 12:35:06 AM »
Exclusive: Lee Atwater's Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy

Audio is finally available, apparently.

For the transcript and context:

Quote
    Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

    Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

    Atwater: 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."

Somehow I doubt this will put to rest claims that this wasn't about racism. But at least it can be taken a bit less seriously.

Offline Skynet

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 02:10:29 PM »
President Lyndon Johnson's aid said that his pushing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act will cost the Democrats the South for at least a century.  Much of the 60's South were single issue voters (segregation), and flocked to the Goldwater banner.  After the Democrats abandoned the white supremacist vote, George Wallace had a good chance of forming a 3rd Party in the South (Republicans were still the hated Party of Lincoln).

The GOP, namely Nixon, saw that the South was up for grabs, and they courted the white supremacist vote.  They let these crazy extremists into the GOP, and that's how they ended up with people like Rush Limbaugh and the Birthers.

Offline Stattick

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2012, 02:40:27 PM »
Well, it's only been half a century, and the Democrats are starting to see some gains in the South now, both due to changing demographics, and a GOP that is working hard to disenfranchise anyone that's not a old rich white dude.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2012, 05:37:35 PM »
I've always kind of wondered what it is about Florida's demographics that make it separate from the rest of the Deep South. It votes Democrat as much as it does Republican (Red in 2000+2004, Blue in 2008+2012). It's the poster child for 'rich white people retirement home', maybe balanced by a large nonwhite/immigrant population?

Offline Lux12

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Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2012, 05:53:06 PM »
People like this really aren't helping the GOP by reinforcing this idea that they're the old white guy party. Let alone the racist one. It's a sad irony in some ways though.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 06:01:07 PM »
I wonder what Abe Lincoln would think of his party today.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 06:03:06 PM »
I wonder what Abe Lincoln would think of his party today.

You just read my mind.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 06:13:20 PM »
You just read my mind.

I see him walking into the House and heading towards the speaker's podium with a length of hickory axe handle in hand.. but then I'm not a very subtle person.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 06:14:01 PM »
I see him walking into the House and heading towards the speaker's podium with a length of hickory axe handle in hand.. but then I'm not a very subtle person.

Would the axe head still be attached?

Offline Skynet

Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 06:22:39 PM »
I wonder what Abe Lincoln would think of his party today.

"State's Rights?!  Neo-Confederates?!  A Christian Nation?!  What hooliganism is this?!"

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2012, 08:00:21 PM »
Quote
Somehow I doubt this will put to rest claims that this wasn't about racism.

Of course it won't.

And the worst part is that Atwater is even kind of bullshitting and soft-soaping it there. I mean, he's talking about the GOP's public discourse and pretending there isn't a parallel private discourse underneath all the abstract code that can still say "nigger, nigger, nigger" all it wants. But there is. That's why "nigger, nigger, nigger" still comes out in moments of stress (like losing an election) or incaution from the right, and why the party still appeals disproportionately to white racists, and why the code has taken so long to work any erosion of that that it's managed.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 08:04:31 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Lux12

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Re: Lee Atwater explains the Southern Strategy
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2012, 08:32:23 PM »
"State's Rights?!  Neo-Confederates?!  A Christian Nation?!  What hooliganism is this?!"

I wouldn't doubt he'd say that. Hell I'm thinking that right now.