Sam Tanenhaus writes a compelling article in The New Republic about the inevitable decline of the GOP if it remains the party of just white people, which is its current trend. The GOP not only needs to change its messengers, it needs to change its message. The Republican Party of the present day is certainly not the party of Lincoln, but, more apparently, the party of John C. Calhoun. Conservatism has become the code word for bigotry with many Republicans channeling Jim Crow Dixiecrats. I’m happy to say that the Southern Strategy is exposed and failing.
…the GOP is in jeopardy, the gravest since 1964, of ceasing to be a national party.
The article offers a great history lesson of conservatism and the GOP in America. During the 20th century, liberalism is equated to communism. Sound familiar? But Tanenhaus details that John C. Calhoun, pro-slavery politician and author of “nullification” (also known as state’s rights) influenced countless conservatives for more than a century, including William F. Buckley, Jim Crow proponent and the founder of National Review magazine, Barry Goldwater and the GOP icon, Ronald Reagan.
The politics of “nullification” is nothing new yet it is veiled in the rhetoric and claims of “big government”. It is simply the desire of some conservatives, to no longer be a part of our democratic collective. Tax avoidance is the ploy used to “starve the beast” or make sure that certain groups or factions that are deemed undesirable by the extreme right-wing do not benefit from taxpayer dollars.
We hear the echoes of nullification in the venting of anti-government passions and also in campaigns to “starve government,” curtail voter registration, repeal legislation, delegitimize presidents. There is a strong sectionalist bias in these efforts.
As Tanenhaus asserts, the GOP strategy is a losing strategy stuck in a bygone era of white supremacy. The country has changed both philosophically and demographically, but I surmise the GOP will be the last to acknowledge that fact.