The 2008 Presidential Campaign and the prospect of electing the 1st Black President made for an interesting glimpse at another part of the American Identity. Its easy now, with the Tea Party, birther, you lie and O’Reilly type disrespect, to forget the in fighting during the primary campaign. So lets just get that out-of-the-way, there were elements in both parties.
America scratched and revealed, just below the surface, a racial animus that never really left us. It was always there smoldering. Did you think people with this worldview just vanished from the surface of the planet, after the civil rights progress?
Making their way along through the late 20th century
In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s first move after receiving the Republican nomination was to launch his candidacy in Philadelphia, Miss. The content was a states rights speech,
and to drive the point home; a story about a Cadillac driving welfare queen in Chicago. Now, given the fact that these things are carefully choreographed, does anyone think this site and speech theme was a coincident?
This play on States rights (George Wallace’s legacy: Southern politics gone national) and innuendos: (big city, Cadillac, welfare, taxes) was clearly a race card play.
“I believe in states’ rights … I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.” Reagan
Reagan solidified an unlikely alliance between working class Southern Whites (which talk radio & Fox would help spread nationally) and the big business corporate wealthy class.
When I think of an erudite like David Brooks I don’t think small town jute joints or public square storefront and Sunday school mornings.
At the time (2008), I told my wife that all this rhetoric we’re hearing about Barack Obama is just a continuum and at its core really about identity. I mean, we all know about Black American identity because we’ve seen evolve in a very public way with a pronouncement: Negro to black is beautiful to hyphenated African. And since there are those in the 21st century…STILL… begging the question of their humanity; we can be certain to hear more, but I digress-the point is, we all know about it.
Reagan was tapping into a sentiment that extends back through the “Southern Strategy” in the mid 60s, through Strom Thurmond in the 1948 Democratic convention, to Jim Crow, to Reconstruction, to the Civil War. So call them what you want: Dixiecrats, Southern Democrats, Reagan Democrats, Tea Party, birthers, etc., it’s the same crew who’s always been on the wrong side of history. The same crew we’ve been dragging, kicking and screaming towards our ideals for over a hundred years. Now I must say I do not believe they make up a majority of Tea Party folks. But the party is a good place for them to settle in and they’re still very vocal. The Tea Party gives them cover, and quite possibly comforts those can’t admit their racial hang-ups and won’t face their fears.
It’s what I’m puttin’ down for now, what say you?