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White mischief

February 12, 2013 - Harry Eagar
I agree with every word of Sam Tanenhaus's New Republic piece about how the Republican Party changed from a party of civil rights to one against civil rights. His history is precisely what I observed in the South.

I have never read a piece of political journalism before that I didn't disagree with at least part of.

I would add just three points:

Although Tanenhaus is no doubt correct as he traces the intellectual history of the transformation in ideology in the national Republican Party, Southerners didn't need any Eastern pointy-head intellectuals to revive the political thought of John Calhoun. We took that in with our mother's milk. My grandfather, born in 1890, was named John Calhoun Eagar.

Second, though Tanenhaus does not mention it, his history explains the desperate GOP opposition to the Voting Rights Act (and exposes the libertarians as just rightwingers who won't admit to it).

Three, the reason the Republicans were not concerned as they lost the Latino vote was that they were certain, for ideological reasons, that Latin immigrants, as they became citizens, or their children grew old enough to vote, would vote their social conservative views and not their economic interests or their desire for self-respect. This was obtuse when contemplating a social group that puts so much emphasis on respect.

The more or less simultaneous disappearance of the Republican black vote was a feature, not a bug, and the party was happy to see them go.

Nut graf:

"But that history, with its repeated instances of racialist political strategy dating back many decades, only partially accounts for the party's electoral woes. The true problem, as yet unaddressed by any Republican standard-bearer, originates in the ideology of modern conservatism. When the intellectual authors of the modern right created its doctrines in the 1950s, they drew on nineteenth-century political thought, borrowing explicitly from the great apologists for slavery, above all, the intellectually fierce South Carolinian John C. Calhoun. This is not to say conservatives today share Calhoun's ideas about race. It is to say instead that the Calhoun revival, based on his complex theories of constitutional democracy, became the justification for conservative politicians to resist, ignore, or even overturn the will of the electoral majority."


Article Comments



Feb-13-13 11:18 PM

It remains to be seen whether the Republicans will really make policies even for Hispanics. Sen. Graham today indicated he won't, and he speaks for the Tea Party wing.

Republicans like Mexicans so long as they will cut their grass cheap. Upwardly mobile Mexicans, not so much.

Businessmen don't want illegal immigration stopped because, as you say, it lets them hold down wages. They say different but their actions tell the story.


Feb-13-13 4:32 PM

correction: not 11 million Hispanics but 11 million illegal immigrants where the majority are Hispanic.


Feb-13-13 4:30 PM

11 million illegal immigrants in America are not all Hispanic. If the Republicans cater only to Hispanics, there are in for a rude awakening. There are 11 million who cannot vote since they are not legal. There will be Asians, African Americans, Caucasians that will not vote for one who favors only Hispanics.

If Senator Rubio decides to run for President in the future, he best hope that 11 million Hispanics become American Citizens and are legal to vote.

Also legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants does not help those who are legal Americans to get jobs. America is already exporting jobs to China but by legalizing illegal immigrants, America now imports people to work in America. Legal Americans again lose out. Hispanics are not to be without fear nor Asians from South East Asia where Taliban and Al Quaida pay Muslims who live there to terrorize.


Feb-12-13 5:42 PM

Civil War has never ended. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is about a Government of the past and now the The New Government is for the party, of the party and by the party. No mention of people except that as people now we are just numbers. 1% or 99%. I am not a Prisoner. The 1% have their "rats"(rights) according to Senator Graham.


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