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Agema

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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.
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.

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.
I'd broadly concur, but...

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.
...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.

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.
 

Terminal Blue

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tstorm823 said:
Atwater explicitly says that Reagan was not exploiting racism.
Which is wrong. Reagan absolutely did exploit racism. So did every president after him (albeit to varying degrees and in varying ways).

What Atwater says, again, is that race was not an issue. Reagan did not have to campaign on the basis of racial issues, even thinly veiled racial issues like busing, because the electorate no longer considered these issues high priority compared to issues like economics and security. The definition of racism which Atwater is using is to come out and overtly talk about racial issues and how much you hate [racial slurs], but that isn't a very helpful definition of racism and it also isn't internally consistent.

The reason people like to quote the "don't quote me" section of this interview is not because they agree with Atwater's views on racism, but because it's probably the most revealing part. Firstly, it talks about the evolution of language from overtly racist language, to vaguely abstracted racial issues, to highly abstracted economic issues. Secondly, it talks about the shift from 'conscious' to 'unconscious' racism. Atwater may not believe that 'unconscious' racism is racism at all, but I think it can be safely assumed that no sane person today would agree.

Now, you can choose to believe that Atwater is congratulating himself for having solved racism, and maybe he genuinely believed that he had, but that reading is entirely incompatible with the rest of the views expressed in the interview.

tstorm823 said:
The idea behind a dogwhistle, I'll stick to race to make this sentence easier to formulate, is that you say something that signals your support for racists without being explicit so that the racists hear you but the regular people don't notice and aren't turned off by it.
And that is true if you're talking about far-right dog whistles, where the purpose is to identify and communicate with other people with far-right views without alienating liberals.

But in mainstream politics, dog whistling is a political strategy to get votes. The politician using the dog whistle does not need to actually agree with the racist implications of the messages they are putting out, and the racist audience does not need to believe that they do. All that matters is establishing an alignment of political interest.

"Multiculturalism", "Mass-Immigration", "Law and Order" and "Zionism" are examples of dog whistles. On the surface, they might all appear to have a neutral meaning, or to be important political topics worthy of discussion, but it is clear from the way people react to these terms that not everyone perceives them in racially neutral terms. When people are posting pictures of trains full of ethnic minority people as examples of the "mass immigration", it's because their opposition to "mass immigration" is based on a desire to get rid of ethnic minorities. When people talk about the Rothschild/Soros-backed Zionist agenda, they're not talking about Zionism as a self-identified political position, they're talking about Jews.

As a politician, if a significant proportion of your potential voters have racial prejudices or biases, then it becomes a prudent political strategy to capitalise on those prejudices. Why wouldn't you?

There is a reason why the world is now full of working and middle class people utterly, utterly convinced that all their problems and economic insecurity are caused by immigrants or undeserving minorities, and who continue to again and again vote for the same parties that systematically impoverish them because those parties vaguely allude to curbing immigration. Reagan was one of the first politicians to really cultivate and exploit that narrative, and he is a big part of how we got to this shitty state.
 

tstorm823

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Agema said:
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.
I mean, he didn't actually do that [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan%27s_Neshoba_County_Fair_%22states%27_rights%22_speech]. He gave a speech at a traditional campaigning spot in the same county where civil rights activists were notoriously murdered. And then the New York Times, being the New York Times, reported that those activists were murdered at the fairground rather than a town 7 miles away. (The same New York Times that has actively endorsed every single Democratic presidential candidate since JFK). And further reading, you'll see that the RNC memeber from Mississippi pushed for the speech there, and the fairgrounds announced he was coming before he agreed to it. So make of all that what you will.

The door is still open, I will admit, for the possibility that Reagan in that situation tossed out the phrase "states rights" with deliberate intent, but it's difficult for me to not view that with heavy skepticism given the amount of untruth that was pushed about the incident, then and now.

Like, consider for a moment how Reagan could have avoided criticism based on his choice of venue. If you're not allowed within 7 miles of anywhere racist crimes had been committed in the American south without signaling support for racists, you're basically obligated to not campaign in Mississippi at all.

evilthecat said:
Now, you can choose to believe that Atwater is congratulating himself for having solved racism, and maybe he genuinely believed that he had, but that reading is entirely incompatible with the rest of the views expressed in the interview.
The man literally declared that they were the first generation of southerners who weren't racist. My reading is the only reading compatible with the rest of the view expressed in the interview.

You find me a single line you can quote from that interview where Atwater indicates any belief that they had encouraged racism rather than discouraged it.
 

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tstorm823 said:
The man literally declared that they were the first generation of southerners who weren't racist. My reading is the only reading compatible with the rest of the view expressed in the interview.
Do you agree that racism was not an issue in the south in the 1940s?

Do you think Huey Long was not a racist?

Atwater might believe that moving the political debate away from issues of race has made people less racist, but that's an idiotic position. Either he is an idiot who actually believes that, or he is using racism here in a way which does not match our modern, inclusive definition. I suspect the latter, but if you want to believe the former, go ahead.
 

Avnger

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tstorm823 said:
evilthecat said:
Now, you can choose to believe that Atwater is congratulating himself for having solved racism, and maybe he genuinely believed that he had, but that reading is entirely incompatible with the rest of the views expressed in the interview.
The man literally declared that they were the first generation of southerners who weren't racist. My reading is the only reading compatible with the rest of the view expressed in the interview.

You find me a single line you can quote from that interview where Atwater indicates any belief that they had encouraged racism rather than discouraged it.
Literally right there in the paragraph above the one you quoted. Emphasis mine.

evilthecat said:
The reason people like to quote the "don't quote me" section of this interview is not because they agree with Atwater's views on racism, but because it's probably the most revealing part. Firstly, it talks about the evolution of language from overtly racist language, to vaguely abstracted racial issues, to highly abstracted economic issues. Secondly, it talks about the shift from 'conscious' to 'unconscious' racism. Atwater may not believe that 'unconscious' racism is racism at all, but I think it can be safely assumed that no sane person today would agree.
Atwater didn't believe indirect ("unconscious") racism counted as "real" racism. Given that, of course he would declare people to be no longer racist as long as they stop saying "I hate those n-words" and instead say "I hate those welfare queens." It doesn't matter if Atwater "believes" they encouraged racism (based on only a partial definition), it matters that they did encourage it based on the actual definition.
 

Seanchaidh

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tstorm823 said:
The man literally declared that they were the first generation of southerners who weren't racist.
Which is absurd, so maybe it'd be wise to think about the implications of his various premises a bit more.
 

Agema

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tstorm823 said:
Like, consider for a moment how Reagan could have avoided criticism based on his choice of venue. If you're not allowed within 7 miles of anywhere racist crimes had been committed in the American south without signaling support for racists, you're basically obligated to not campaign in Mississippi at all.
Well, not really - those murders are particularly famous ones. Philadelphia MS is notable for basically nothing else. And Mississippi is about the size of England (UK): it's not that small a place to be unable to find somewhere a healthy decent distance from particularly notorious murders.

You can select out the NYT, but that was a long way from the only entity that had some acknowledgement or disquiet about it, at the time or now: and some of them were/are Republicans. That it was suggested by the local party bigwigs is neither here nor there. Although the main party bigwig was Trent Lott, forced to resign over objectionably kind words for segregationist Strom Thurmond (more on that below). Anyway, one way or another it is deeply unlikely that Reagan's team would not have noticed associations. They're highly paid professionals, who evidently were good enough to run an enormously successful campaign.

The door is still open, I will admit, for the possibility that Reagan in that situation tossed out the phrase "states rights" with deliberate intent, but it's difficult for me to not view that with heavy skepticism given the amount of untruth that was pushed about the incident, then and now.
Firstly, Reagan had a history with this sort of race-baiting before 1980. That's evidence of form.

The speech in general, and consistent with Atwater, is to convey the message "I'm your kind of guy". Of course the speech is overwhelmingly economics, and law and order, and defence: they are the main planks of Republican strategy; likewise, as noted by Atwater, they have recognised that overt appeals to racism will fail.

But the audience are also, well... racists: "George Wallace voters" as I think Atwater puts it. And what was a famous rallying cry of George Wallace, and the aforementioned Strom Thurmond? "States rights". That speech would not have been left to improvisation, it will have been planned and pored over by professional speechwriters and advisors in enormous depth, and they cannot possibly have not known exactly what the implications of "states rights" were to that audience: a nod and a wink, "Hey folks, I'm your kind of guy - even on the race stuff".
 

tstorm823

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evilthecat said:
Atwater might believe that moving the political debate away from issues of race has made people less racist, but that's an idiotic position. Either he is an idiot who actually believes that, or he is using racism here in a way which does not match our modern, inclusive definition. I suspect the latter, but if you want to believe the former, go ahead.
Seanchaidh said:
Which is absurd, so maybe it'd be wise to think about the implications of his various premises a bit more.
To reiterate: I don't think Lee Atwater is a credible source in the first place. He was speaking of times he didn't have any more personal experience in than any of us, and talking poorly of people deliberately to make a foil from which to contrast his own positions. it was all political spin to make himself look better. But if you understand what he's saying in this interview, you're left basically with two options:

a) Lee Atwater was full of crap and should not be taken seriously.
b) Lee Atwater is credible, and therefore at his own words helped remove racism from southern politics.

If you laugh off the things he said outside of that one paragraph devoid of context, you should laugh off all of it. There should not be the third option that people take where all the other things he says are nonsense, but the one comment that looks worse for other Republicans should be pasted all over the internet. That's not a standard.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
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tstorm823 said:
a) Lee Atwater was full of crap and should not be taken seriously.
b) Lee Atwater is credible, and therefore at his own words helped remove racism from southern politics.
That's a completely false dichotomy.

Lee Atwater can both provide incisive analysis of politics in some ways whilst also being dishonest or unreliable in others. For instance, it it is far from unusual for anyone to provide fairly objective analysis only up to the point doing so puts them at a disadvantage. Or more simply, people are probably rarely more likely to lie than when they have a lot to gain by doing so.
 

Terminal Blue

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tstorm823 said:
To reiterate: I don't think Lee Atwater is a credible source in the first place.
At the time of that interview, Atwater was an aide to Ronald Reagan. He had also run a successful congressional campaign in South Carolina. During that campaign, he was personally responsible for setting up a fake poll which mentioned that the candidate he was opposing had been involved with the NAACP, which was then distributed in white suburban neighbourhoods. Remember though, race isn't an issue in the south.

I will make no secret of the fact I think Atwater is a disgusting human being. But, although you may not like it, this disgusting human being had a significant role within the Republican party, and he exemplified many of its qualities (if that word is appropriate here). He had a perspective on politics which few people have ever had because he had access and influence which few people have ever had. That is why he got interviewed like this, and we did not.

Now, Atwater's entire job was to manipulate public opinion, and thus it stands to reason that he would seek to manipulate an interview. One thing you learn as a researcher is that when you interview someone in a position of power, you should always assume that they are attempting to manipulate the interview. However, this does not mean they are not a credible source, quite the opposite. When someone attempts to manipulate an interview, particularly if the interviewer is skilled and aggressive enough to push them, they will typically end up giving unique insight into their process.

We don't have to believe Atwater's views on racism. It's clearly bollocks, and he knows on some level that it is bollocks. He's using a manipulative definition of racism to make himself and his party seem better than it is, and we know this because both he and Reagan clearly and knowingly exploited racism to win elections, and because attempting to take his position here at face value makes it inconsistent with views he himself expresses.

But, when it comes to shifting political language, he is largely speaking truthfully. It's not even something he is hiding, he is clearly proud of it and wants you to know about it.
 

tstorm823

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evilthecat said:
One thing you learn as a researcher is that when you interview someone in a position of power, you should always assume that they are attempting to manipulate the interview.

But, when it comes to shifting political language, he is largely speaking truthfully. It's not even something he is hiding, he is clearly proud of it and wants you to know about it.
You should probably take your own advice here. I am the one being critical of his words. I am the one treating Atwater as a manipulative political sleaze.

When a manipulative person makes a point of comparison between themselves and someone else, you should doubt the contrast they're making, yes. But you exclusively think Atwater's full of crap when saying that he isn't racist, and take his word as useful insight when he says that other people are racist. You want to believe Atwater was a lying, manipulative racist, go for it. But you should also question his assessment of everyone else.

Agema said:
That's a completely false dichotomy.
It's not a false dichotomy, it's a legal principle. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

Edit: to go back to the points about Reagan. Added to the myriad ways Reagan could be innocent of the accusations of race baiting, he was advised by people like Atwater who would claim that getting the south to vote on economics using the phrase "states rights" was actually ending racism. There's so many explanations other than "secret race-baiting that only the left-wing media could identify" to Reagan's behavior, and I'm not going to take that left wing media's word on it, when they are literally his political adversaries.
 

Terminal Blue

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tstorm823 said:
You should probably take your own advice here. I am the one being critical of his words.
I don't think you are. I think you're dismissing his words because they don't say what you want them to say, which is kind of the opposite of being critical.

My advice is paraphrased from an article on research methodology which I read a few years ago. The point was not that you shouldn't bother, or that you should just assume that every person with the ability to do so is continuously lying for no reason, but that you should always remember that these people have a goal. They don't have to give interviews, so if they are consenting to give an interview it's because they want something from the interview, and they will not play unless they feel they are getting it.

For Atwater to claim that he is not racist, that Reagan didn't use race in his presidential campaign, or that the political conversation in the south has moved on entirely from race, is not only blatantly untrue based on even a cursory knowledge of context, it also directly benefits him. That is why we should be especially skeptical of it. Not because it was said by a bad man who always lied for no reason, but because it aligns with the goal.

The "don't quote me" section is still, ultimately, Atwood attempting to make himself look good, but it doesn't work. It actually makes him look bad. It makes the administration he is part of look bad. It paints Reagan's position as the natural evolution of the racism of the past, and concedes that there may still be racial bias behind the appeal of that position.

This is meant to be a tactical concession by Atwood. The denial of his own expertise and the desire not to be quoted is meant to signal that this is something embarrassing, it's something he is conceding to show that he is taking Lamis' point seriously. The idea is clearly that he will concede to that point, disarming it, but then win us back by revealing that actually, if we just buy into his definition of racism, then this seemingly bad thing is a good thing. Sure, people might still subconsciously be motivated by racism, but consciously they think it's all about economics. Look how far we've come in this lovely post-racial paradise!

A person who wanted to make themselves look good would never concede something like this voluntarily, because if you don't buy Atwater's definition of racism then it makes him look really bad. Why would a person who wanted to look good lie in order to make themselves look bad?

They wouldn't, which is why the quote is much more believable, and much more interesting, than anything Atwater has to say about racism.

tstorm823 said:
To go back to the points about Reagan. Added to the myriad ways Reagan could be innocent of the accusations of race baiting, he was advised by people like Atwater who would claim that getting the south to vote on economics using the phrase "states rights" was actually ending racism.
Why does that in any way exonerate Reagan of race baiting?
 

tstorm823

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evilthecat said:
This is meant to be a tactical concession by Atwood. The denial of his own expertise and the desire not to be quoted is meant to signal that this is something embarrassing, it's something he is conceding to show that he is taking Lamis' point seriously. The idea is clearly that he will concede to that point, disarming it, but then win us back by revealing that actually, if we just buy into his definition of racism, then this seemingly bad thing is a good thing. Sure, people might still subconsciously be motivated by racism, but consciously they think it's all about economics. Look how far we've come in this lovely post-racial paradise!

A person who wanted to make themselves look good would never concede something like this voluntarily, because if you don't buy Atwater's definition of racism then it makes him look really bad. Why would a person who wanted to look good lie in order to make themselves look bad?
Because he isn't lying to make himself look bad. His tactical concession isn't at his expense, it's at the expense of the Republican party of the prior 2 decades. He's trying to concede that other people were racist to make himself look better.

He's scapegoating. He's saying "all the Democratic lies and propaganda about race are totally true, but only about other people, not about me." This is a lie. He is lying. I hope that if you were asked who was more moral and less bigoted, you could assess that Barry Goldwater is 1000x better than Lee Atwater. But Atwater tosses him under the bus, he says they've got Goldwater's economic platform without all that racist stuff.

He's conceding a lie to bolster another lie.

Why does that in any way exonerate Reagan of race baiting?
Because the crime of racebaiting requires intent. You can't accidentally racebait.
 

Agema

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tstorm823 said:
It's not a false dichotomy, it's a legal principle. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.
It's an ancient and hopelessly obsolete legal principle that is patently ridiculous as an assessment of how people behave, especially outside a courtroom.

Edit: to go back to the points about Reagan. Added to the myriad ways Reagan could be innocent of the accusations of race baiting, he was advised by people like Atwater who would claim that getting the south to vote on economics using the phrase "states rights" was actually ending racism. There's so many explanations other than "secret race-baiting that only the left-wing media could identify" to Reagan's behavior, and I'm not going to take that left wing media's word on it, when they are literally his political adversaries.
The same Ronald Reagan who called African politicians "monkeys" that had only just learnt to wear shoes? Who when in office appeared at best ambivalent and at worst hostile to some civil rights legislation?

Don't get me wrong: Reagan's attitudes to race were probably well into the better end of US society by the standards of his day, but they were dark days. Furthermore politics is a cynical and ruthless profession, and I really don't think Reagan was so saintly that he wouldn't pass up the opportunity to discreetly chuck some bones to racists in order to get into the White House. Many presidents have dirtied their hands more. I'd also note that the strategy of the Republican Party is still consistent to this day in catering to and mobilising white voters to the max, sometimes explicitly against non-whites (although more immigrants than black people these days).
 

tstorm823

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Agema said:
I'd also note that the strategy of the Republican Party is still consistent to this day in catering to and mobilising white voters to the max, sometimes explicitly against non-whites (although more immigrants than black people these days).
Nah. The strategy of the Democratic Party since Lyndon Johnson has been to convince you that the Republican Party is against non-whites. It was BS then, it's still BS now.
 

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tstorm823 said:
He's scapegoating.
You are scapegoating.

Unless you actually believe that opposition to civil rights legislation and desegregation was purely motivated by abstract dislike of the federal government and the racial element of opposition to these policies was just a wild coincidence, then the exploitation of these issues by southern Republicans was a deliberate exploitation of racism. You need to deal with that, because we can't even get to the (irrelevant) question of who is "better" if you cannot admit any wrongdoing on the part of the Republican party at all.

I get it, you want to characterise Atwater as the lone problem. Sure, he was a key member of the Republican party. Sure, he ran and helped to run several Republican election campaigns and generally did so with great success. Sure, he was right at the political heart of the Republican party for years, but that's all coincidence, right? He was the lone bad apple in a party of pure, innocent snowflakes. In fact, he secretly hated the Republican party and threw its perfectly innocent historical policies under the bus to make himself look good (because that's a sound electoral strategy).

You are doing this for the same reason we're all going for Atwater so hard, because he's embarrassing, because he reveals too much about how the Republican sausage is made. He wasn't an outlier in the party, he wasn't some random bad guy who walked into Reagan's campaign team one day and everyone was too gosh darn polite to remove him. He was put there because he belonged there. You need to deal with that.

tstorm823 said:
He's saying "all the Democratic lies and propaganda about race are totally true, but only about other people, not about me."
That isn't actually what he says though.

He talks about being the first generation of southerners who are not racist, but the lie there is the fact that Atwater actually is racist, that he did exploit race while campaigning in the south and that Reagan did the same. Again, it's not a lie to say that previous generations of Republicans were racist. It's not a lie to say that campaigning on the basis of states rights or forced busing is exploiting racial sentiment. If the alternative to believing that Atwater is right on this is to believe that the entire Republican party except for Atwater, and also the entire population of the south, was 100% not racist even if they did racist things, then that is not credible.

Secondly, and I know this is very difficult to accept, Atwater was a part of the Republican party. In fact, he was quite an important part of the Republican party who was, at the time he said this, describing a Republican electoral strategy he endorsed. Attacking the Republican party makes him look bad. Saying "we are solving the racial problem" is admitting that there is a racial problem which you have to solve. Describing your own policy in terms of varying degrees of abstraction from people using the n-word is not flattering to that policy. If the existence of racism in the history of the Republican party was just a big lie by the Democrats, then it wouldn't be necessary to concede this point at all. Atwater could have flatly denied it, which would have left his own position far, far less tainted, and we certainly wouldn't be having this discussion now.

But oh look, we are! Funny that..

tstorm823 said:
Because the crime of racebaiting requires intent. You can't accidentally racebait.
Why not?

Race baiting isn't even a crime.
 

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evilthecat said:
Unless you actually believe that opposition to civil rights legislation and desegregation was purely motivated by abstract dislike of the federal government and the racial element of opposition to these policies was just a wild coincidence, then the exploitation of these issues by southern Republicans was a deliberate exploitation of racism.
But that is the truth, Republican opposition to some civil rights legislation WAS purely motivated by an abstract dislike of federal overreach. Civil rights legislation early on was pretty much entirely from the small government power perspective. Republicans were the ones pushing civil rights when the problem was the government. Jim Crow was not an issue of too little government involvement in people's lives, it was an issue of too much government involvement in people's lives. It was the government saying "ya'll need to segregate or we'll arrest you." When the Democratic party decided to embrace civil rights (which is a good thing, it's good that they did that, I'm not suggesting otherwise), they brought with them the same big government perspective, except now it was "ya'll need to integrate, or we'll arrest you." That is where you get philosophical opposition by someone like Barry Goldwater.

Barry Goldwater supported every piece of civil rights legislation until the one Lyndon Johnson signed that put the federal government into private propery. Lyndon Johnson opposed every civil rights bill for his first 20 years in congress, and then put forward the bill that was too governmentally aggressive for Goldwater to sign. Goldwater wasn't a racist, Johnson was. If you research these people, that's the truth, 100%. But what does Atwater do? He throws Goldwater under the bus, by name. Atwater embraced the lies told about other Republicans because he thought it would make him look better by comparison.
 

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tstorm823 said:
Agema said:
I'd also note that the strategy of the Republican Party is still consistent to this day in catering to and mobilising white voters to the max, sometimes explicitly against non-whites (although more immigrants than black people these days).
Nah. The strategy of the Democratic Party since Lyndon Johnson has been to convince you that the Republican Party is against non-whites. It was BS then, it's still BS now.
Facts don't care about your feelings mate.
 

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tstorm823 said:
But that is the truth, Republican opposition to some civil rights legislation WAS purely motivated by an abstract dislike of federal overreach.
Civil Rights Legislation was the federal overreach.

It is not a coincidence that people in the south suddenly become very interested in "states rights" and "new federalism" at the exact time when civil rights or desegregation became an issue.

I know it's very inconvenient to your political position that racism is real, but sadly it is.

tstorm823 said:
Civil rights legislation early on was pretty much entirely from the small government power perspective.
When was this supposed early period of civil rights legislation?

Slavery was abolished in the south initially by executive order during the civil war, then by the thirteenth amendment after, both federal laws. A few state legislatures abolished slavery themselves, but this was still largely driven by the federal governments.

After Lincoln died, Andrew Johnson (who was broadly sympathetic with the position of the south) began restoring power to state legislatures in the south, which immediately passed racist laws aimed at limiting the conduct and participation of black Americans in society. That is how much of a massive, raging hardon the state governments of the south had for racism. They were doing it almost immediately after losing the war.

However, congress managed to pass the first civil rights act and then the fourteenth amendment. This marked the first time in the US that citizens rights became the responsibility of the federal government, rather than state governments. This, specifically, is the "federal overreach" to which "states rights" refers, proponents of states rights think that states should have the final say in determining the rights of their citizens specifically because that would allow them to be treated unequally.

During reconstruction, the south was still under military occupation. Congress passed the reconstruction acts, which lead to the creation of new governments and enforced suffrage for all male citizens regardless of race. This allowed radical Republicans to take control of state governments for the first time. During this period, one could argue that state governments briefly became a tool for advancing the cause of civil rights. However, the level of resentment and violence this created among southern whites left these governments extremely dependent on federal support.

From this point on, it is all downhill.

Over time, the reconstruction amendments and acts were toned down and weakened as the perception of reconstruction became more negative among white republicans. Radical republicans lost influence within the party as it shifted towards conservatism. With the compromise of 1877, the federal government restored the power of state legislatures and withdrew troops from the southern states. Can you guess what happened next?

This is why you are absolutely wrong about the Jim Crow laws being "too much government". Reconstruction was, for people in the south, "too much government". The KKK being harshly suppressed was "too much government". Black people being allowed to vote freely under federal law enforced by an occupying garrison of union soldiers was "too much government". As soon as "too much government" ended, Jim Crow began. Again, this is what "states rights" means, it means that states are able to determine the rights of their citizens independently of the federal government. The federal government did not impose Jim Crow laws, state governments did. The southern democrats did not bring their "big government perspective" to Jim Crow, they were the ones demanding "states rights" in opposition to republican-lead military governments which literally relied on the federal government stationing troops in their states to guarantee things like voting rights.

The culture and politics of the south was not born out of some primordial desire to be free from the tyranny of "big government", whether that meant being racist or anti-racist. It was born out of racism, and a desire to rationalise and justify racism. The racism came first. Once you understand that, you will find these events start to make far more sense.

Also, I don't know where you're getting this idea that Atwater thinks Goldwater was a racist or stokes racial politics. He's used as an example of a historical Republican running on a platform similar to Atwater's perception of Reagan's platform. Atwater's point is that Goldwater found success in the south despite not bringing racial issues into his campaign. His argument is that the south has been stereotyped as this weird, reactionary place, but now with Reagan as president Goldwater's views on economy and security are considered mainstream.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
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tstorm823 said:
Nah. The strategy of the Democratic Party since Lyndon Johnson has been to convince you that the Republican Party is against non-whites. It was BS then, it's still BS now.
No, you've changed my meaning: I worded it the way I did originally for a reason when I said it worked for white people.

The Republican Party is not inherently against black people - it's that they just don't really factor in to it. It decided to win elections by securing enough white votes that it didn't really matter how non-whites voted. [footnote]It still does, except that changing demographics have made that increasingly difficult.[/footnote] Mostly that means it just does nothing for black (and other minority ethnic) people. It's blind to whether blacks are disproportionately disadvantaged by its measures, or doing anything about a lot of the problems with society that disproportionately disadvantage blacks, because winning black votes isn't what it's about. And at worst it means when interests of black and white effectively collide, it takes the side of white people because they're the ones it's representing.