Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, Southern Strategy died after a long bout with cancer. At such a time, it’s considered proper to offer condolences and to praise certain aspects of a life, particularly a life that figured so prominently in politics for over half-a-century. Indeed, Southern Strategy played a pivotal role in the election of the late and unlamented Richard Nixon and the late and inexplicably-idolized Ronald Reagan.
But I have come not to praise, but to bury Southern Strategy, and I find no more fitting words than those offered in the deathbed confession of dedicated follower Lee 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, you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is 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."
No, I will not mourn the passing of such a despicable villain; but I’m sorry to say, many will, particularly those who profited from their association. That includes George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Karl Rove. Indeed, Rove's dream of a Permanent Republican Majority has most likely come to an end.
The Bible tells us “you will know them by their fruits”, and Southern Strategy brought forth strange fruit … bitter fruit … poisonous fruit. So on this solemn occasion, there will be no tears and no mourning, no wailing and gnashing of teeth, no sackcloth and ashes.
Let me close, with the words of William Shakespeare, words from a eulogy offered for another tyrant:
“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”
The sad truth is there is no good to inter with the bones of Southern Strategy, but alas, the evil lives on. Let us hope and pray that evil passes away soon as well.
©2012 Tom Cordle