Jim Crow: From Dixiecrats to Alt-Right

same circusdifferent clowns

 

Marx (either Groucho or Karl, can’t remember which brother) famously observed that history repeats itself, playing out the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, ACs and DCs, meet the Alt-Right nee Dixiecrats.

Historically, the one great strength of the Democratic Party is the obverse of its equally great weakness: It is a party of diverse factions, some diametrically opposed to one another, yet it manages to find a way to compromise and agree on certain key issues that directly or indirectly benefit the party as a whole.

Jim Crow white Protestant southern segregationists had to find ways to compromise with urban labor and Catholics and non-Christians and various minorities in order to get things done.

After World War One, the Democrats realized the political power base of the country was moving into the big cities and adjusted their political strategies and tactics accordingly.

In 1948 the Democratic Party suffered a major defection by the Dixiecrats (formal name: States’ Rights Democratic Party, then as now “states’ rights” being Orwellian doublespeak for “what white people want”).

The Dixiecrats almost cost Truman re-election and though they soon formally disbanded, certainly bolstered the Republicans fortunes after WWII and through the 1950s and early 1960s.

In the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson used the country’s sense of loss to speed passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Without Kennedy’s death, it might have been the early 1970s before such a comprehensive act would have been passed.

The Jim Crow segregationists by and large bolted the Democratic Party and, in the 1968 election, either rallied around former Alabama governor George Wallace or responded to the “dog whistle” of Nixon’s infamous southern strategy.

The Democratic Party lost the White House and, in the wake of the political and social turmoil of the late 1960s / early 1970s, lost even more decisively to Nixon in 1972.

While Nixon today would fall on the progressive / liberal side of the aisle, he provided conservative Republicans with a game plan for political cultural dominance that focused on recruiting Jim Crow segregationists and turning middle and working class whites against their own self interests by demonizing and denigrating everyone who wasn’t part of their self-proclaimed “silent majority”.

Supported by the coded racism of people like William F. Buckley Jr., the political opportunism of religious leaders like Billy Graham, and the grandstanding pseudo-punditry of entertainers like Rush Limbaugh, the Republicans quietly recreated a duplicate of the Dixiecrats white supremacists social pyramid, with conservative white Protestant males at the apex of the social structure.

The further away an American citizen fell from that four-fold test for political orthodoxy -- conservative and/or white and/or Protestant and/or male -- the less important you were to those on the top (though one could advance on the scale somewhat if one supported those on top enthusiastically enough; see Uncle Toms, Phyllis Schlafly, Log Cabin Republicans, etc., etc., and of course, etc.).

This political orthodoxy was subverted by far right big money interests who bankrolled the various tea party factions. It created a base that focused almost exclusively on protecting and enabling those big money interests by appealing overtly and covertly to middle and working class fears of dropping down in social status.

And in the GOP worldview, that meant dropping down to non-white, non-male, non-Christian (“Christian” having become coded language for “evangelical and / or fundamentalist Protestants” to the exclusion of mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and other Christian denominations) status.

Only by staying conservative, claimed the Republicans, can you avoid falling down to…”their” level.

The result is what we now refer to as the Alt-Right, a foul turd stew of white supremacists (ranging from country club racists to outright neo-Nazis and Klansmen), religious bigots (which is what the whole anti-LGBT movement is about as well as hatred of Muslims, atheists, and any other non-Christians), and toxic masculinity (be it disguised with sickening patronization or overt misogyny).

The Democrats, whatever problems they’ll face in the decades to come, at least don’t have this ball and chain around their necks.

So what does this portend for the Republican Party in the aftermath of the upcoming Trump loss?

The GOP will probably split into two groups, with the question being if the genuine conservatives or the Alt-Right end up in possession of the name.

If the genuine conservatives keep the GOP brand, then the Alt-Right will probably suffer a fate similar to the Dixiecrats of 1948: Spoilers or potential spoilers for the GOP, directly siphoning off Republican influence, indirectly benefiting the Democrats in doing so.

However, the surviving Republicans then get to make significant course corrections that will make their political brand more appealing to minority voters. They can and will plausibly denounce the Alt-Right and will use that to attract voters who historically leaned Democrat.

It gives the GOP the chance to survive as a viable party and rebuild for the future.

On the other hand, if the Alt-Right wins, then it’s pretty much the end of the Republican Party.

Genuine conservatives will migrate to something else, and what that new party may be, I can only hazard a guess: It will be comprised of principled Republicans angry over what their leadership allowed to happen to their party, pragmatic Libertarians tired of spinning their wheels, and conservative-leaning Democrats who will find a more comfortable home for their views and opinions.

As opposed to other third party efforts in the past, this new conservative party can start with elected officials already in place as they will doubtlessly pick up a lot of seated defectors.

Regardless of which version plays out, the Alt-Right is soon to find itself fncked and far from home.

If angry white males couldn’t elect John McCain... If angry white males couldn’t elect Mitt Romney... If angry white males can’t elect Donald Fncking Trump…

…they’re impotent.

Mind you, they’re not going away quietly: Like rabid howler monkeys in a zoo, they’re going to be screaming and rubbing feces in their hair for the rest of our lives.

But they’re impotent and weak, and if the country needs scapegoats to demonize for the rest of Century 21, then they’re volunteering for the job.

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