You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
- Apr 3, 2020
No, that's not what he's saying. He's saying race isn't a live issue anymore for elections. It's no longer a live issue because the Civil Rights movement has won, it's done and dusted, and just like anyone else in the world (to paraphrase Atwater), Southern voters are moving on and learning to live with the new status quo. In a similar way race wasn't an electoral issue decades previously with rampant racism and Jim Crow laws either, because no-one at the time was seriously trying to undo segregation etc., so it wouldn't motivate voters.tstorm823 said:Reading the quote in context of the whole interview, that's not something he wants to say. He wants to say that they've changed the culture. That racial issues aren't what's important. That if you ask people what issues they care about politically, racial issues don't make the top 10. That they've taken the segregationist vote and focused them on other issues relevant to them.
I'd broadly concur, but...It's the interviewer who says that it sounds like they're still going after the racist vote, and Atwater on defense saying they took out the racism either way.
...okay, Atwater says in this interview that there was not a deliberate intent to use racism. But he explains why certain policies can play on racism: in doing so, Atwater's effectively admitting that Republican strategists knew that it did. The problem is, going beyond Atwater himself in this interview, there's plenty about Reagan's wider campaigning that is consistent with exploiting that "subconscious" racism.Even if you believe all of that, Atwater definitely wasn't saying that. That's largely why using that quote as an admission of dogwhistle usage is so comical, Atwater was explicitly saying that they weren't racist or campaigning on racism.
For instance, if I recall rightly, Reagan gave a major campaign speech at a place where civil rights activists were notoriously murdered, and launches against affirmative action and/or for states rights. Now, that location for those topics sends a message. I guess it might have been dumb chance, but I'd give a halfway decent campaign manager a lot more credit than that. As said, people in Atwater's line of work knew that terms like "welfare queen" brought to most white voters' minds a black woman. The term's use in campaign speeches is thus loaded.