tv Republican Southern Strategy CSPAN November 20, 2022 5:30am-7:06am EST
is a biography of senator bill brock, who passed away last spring and in many ways he's seen as a crucial shaper of the southern strategy or was for i guess my interpretation of the southern strategy. and that is how the gop won the south. what was their strategy do that. now today we're going to talk about different versions of southern strategies that benefit different groups, even democrats. so thinking about that. i was trying to position bill brock within this constellation of actors who engineered the southern strategy and situate him within them and thinking about really i guess what are some different ways that frame the southern strategy? and also i began to wonder what what is it? is it useful anymore. has it become so ingrained systemically in the institutions
that. it's not just regional strategy that benefits a particular group or individual politically. right. and so, you know, i think maybe i'll start off by i have a little script here. so that's in general framing here for what i was thinking about. but the script goes a little bit like this that i was thinking and this really happened so father a committed massachusetts liberal called me and just the other day and said that he had a solution to, the nation's problems. he had solved it. and what we were going to do is we were going to secede right. and so he has a whole map drawn where it connects california. he said canada can join to lucky them. and so it kind of cuts through and joins the blue states. right and in general what his what he was trying to say was that he wanted to cut the south out. right. and i think he was channeling a shared vision of. what's wrong or what went wrong
or where the problem lies. and i think a lot of this does you know, how this talk about a southern strategy and the southern ization of america which bruce about in his book that we'll be discussing during the conference framed how we think about conservatism today. this regional emphasis is still powerful but i wonder, is it useful or maybe even harmful in thinking about really what's going on? i'm interested in how this concept interacts with different genres and disciplines. so how do different ways of writing about history use this term in different ways? so thinking about local histories, i'm writing a biography, cultural history, economic, which kids are going to talk about. we have hopefully a political scientist, the panel taking these topics on so genre can shift the focus. right so it's i don't want to think about this as like you know again is added it's fluid it's depends it's changing and
that raises questions of what it's really worth the lens using we're testing to answer this question is biography after all bill brock played a vital role as he shaped the gop appeal to the south in the 1960s, and then he was one of nixon's only real southern strategy successes in the 1970 midterm. right. which was known as the southern strategy. right. for for nixon considering brock. i'm very interested in thinking about, you know, the the intellectual framing. and i'm really interested in what geoffrey kabaservice has to his plea for historians, to think about thinking granularly about conservative ism. right. that it's not monolithic that's tempting these days. right, to back words and see the you know, emphasize the fringes perhaps of politics. and so how can look at this individual more, again, granular early to reconsider the regional dynamic of this what we call white backlash politics. so are some useful ways to define the southern strategy.
i'm going to punt on that for now? i think it might be useful. asked whose strategy was it right who was using strategy and to what end? and what were the different players? did that benefit and what was the constituents see that it won over or. i think it's important consider what do you lose in using the southern strategy and that's important lesson i see in brock story so you know there are many southern strategies as we talked about many people reference sort of the kevin phillips, terry dolan inversion of really white identity that resonated with wallace voters in the south. but many scholars today are questioning this interpretation that offers that laser like regional emphasis on nixon's law and order back strategy. so thinking about my principal character, bill brock, how did he frame southern? what did that mean to make it something southern? and i think it's interesting just to do some back story
thinking about biography, i, i don't know if this helps or hurts us. understand the systemic emphasis on, on this, to think about the personalities. but his family was not from chattanooga, tennessee. they came from outside and they were commerce people. right? they were of coates folks. these were people who were starting manufacturing the brock candy company and, you know, brock's grandfather, other sides, it was cruisy. he had the the chattanooga law, the company. so they're really sort of forward thinking manufacturers and they always wanted that was denied sort of their southern ness. its otherness wasn't, something that they necessarily embraced, are encouraged. and you saw them constantly trying to downplay that. and looking at the minutes of the chamber of commerce. right. that they're always trying to appear more sort of civilized.
they want to attract outside investment, always focused on outside. and so, you know, brock himself when i always talk to me, always said chattanooga is not in the south, which a lot of historians of the south at. right. but he was you know, he said, no, we were not southern. i don't i'm trying to figure out what he really meant by this. i, i think he meant that they didn't identify with sort of southern heritage. but i think important to note that many in chattanooga disagreed as brock's family had cross burned on their front yard by the kkk when brock's father fought to disagree gate chattanooga in the late 1950s. so thinking about, you know, chattanooga, you know, on that left, that's how you heritage and thinking about it that chattanooga certainly has that history so this raises questions for me about it intentionality and how important it to pin the southern strategy on party or group or even an individual. should i be looking at brock and carefully trying to find what was the southern? was he responsible? did he intend to?
people of color in to build white working class voter base? you know how important is it to prove that, to demonstrate to find the smoking gun? right. that sort of. and we have them right. we them in the nixon administration. but for for brock specifically. and so looking his papers, you know, he was offering that's sort of like upbeat forward thinking, brand of responsible government, conservative, you know, defying our expectations of backlash. southern the southern switch. right. but when we get to the political record the distinctions because you know brock not wallace but when we at the political record the distinctions blur. right. it can be while brock called it the biggest mistake his life, he voted against the civil rights act in 1965, against the voting rights act of 1960. voting rights civil rights act of 1964, against the voting rights of 1965. he has many explanations for this. in the seventies, he opposed bussing his senate campaign
famously a billboard that said, you know, brock believes tennesseans believe in really identify, i think with the southern heritage many ways and of this hurt brock in 1970 because he was running against al gore a senior who also voted against the civil rights act of 1964. so was not really you know that distinction. but in 1976, brock got crushed with the black vote by his opponent, jim sasser brock lost his reelection bid. he lost several districts, but his opponent won 95% of all black voters and a higher percentage of low income unmarried african ricans in tennessee and even in his hometown of chattanooga, where brock's prominent had organized with civil rights leaders to end segregation in that city. he collected a paltry 92 votes to sassa's over 1700 and the black downtown precinct. so, you know, i've got a lot more here, but i want to i want
to move forward. i guess, you know, the big question here is looking at individuals biography. we humanized at our own risk and question intentionality. you know, i'm thinking about toni badger's, about al gore senior, who seems to show. he was almost an intentional of brock's southern strategy. 1970. and i think i think it's more complicated if you if you wanted a wider you could actually gore complicit in his own version of this tactic. and part of the institutionally i think poisonous growth of this backlash politics that is seemingly intertwined with and infused into our national political system and discourse and so i guess the question is but if the southern strategy is, in fact everywhere there and can be included as people like agee
maxwell are to include things like religion, gender and other complex dynamics beyond just backlash, which still in all these spaces and if it has so many different practitioners across the political spectrum has it's lost its significance or accuracy or relevance. i argue no, that there are unique contours and regionally specific political appeals that influenced the gop success in the south. i'll leave that open as sort an argument that requires evidence that maybe you can help me. but on some level, i just see it mattering still. and so i'll leave it there. i think we have our other panelists now. so. maya, my sincere apologies for my some technical difficulty is on my end.
it's so nice to be here. my is christina taylor. i am at ohio. i am a political science in political science and the center for law, justice and culture. i'm going to go ahead and introduce professor katherine jewell. i think you're going to be up next. if if i'm right that you haven't gone yet. so dr. jewell is an associate professor in economics, history and political science at fitchburg state university. her recent book, dollars for dixie business and the transformation conservatism in the 20th century, came out on cambridge university press in 2017. dr. jewell specializes in 20 century conservative schisms southern politics, media, culture and business and economic development. so i will give you the floor. great, great. thank you and thank you all for coming and thanks us for that. teeing us up with these provocative questions.
so i'm going to start by exploring this from another angle, and i'll start also with a little anecdote, but i'm going to go back to the late 1990s when i was a college student in nashville and in history class that i took there. it didn't matter if it was you, the new south or medieval. at some point they would we would all have a debate about what constitute rooted the south and you know usually some general variations you know florida would sometimes get hacked off or at least you know the the panhandle would be allowed to join the south. oklahoma, there was a lot of contention over oklahoma and kansas and missouri hot topics as well. but this was a debate that sort of constantly kind of roil through. and historians are no different. we have been debating about constitutes the south rather torturous for four generations. we look back to the 1941 book by w.j.
cass trying to diagnose the mind of the south, which a very journalistic and narrative approach to identifying what he saw central characteristics of the south, while also this kind of tried and true myth about the so-called cavalier tradition in the south as sort of genteel history, upending what he called the pieties or what one observer called the pieties that made their way into images of the old south, such as with the wind. historians have, you know, gone and forth on this question and always revolved around this idea of there being many south now caches writing. 1941, a moment when conservative southern democrats found themselves the minority in their party, but with power in washington, thanks in large part their longevity in politics due to one party. this one party system black
disenfranchisement for cash. the south still had deep continuities though cash's south sounded a lot like what my white classmates, the upper south or the piedmont it regions defined sort of a south that they were, you know kicking florida out of or something like that for cash southern identity struck stretched long across decades even by the civil war reconstruction. in fact much derided by his critics like stephen woodward, whose origins in the new south presented the wrought by a new group of southerners who reshaped the south's economy and political relations in the post-reconstruction decades. these new men of, the new south, much like what south, is seeing in brock's heritage. so emerges this theme or this debate about internal continuity
and change in southern, a debate that once centered around the post-civil war transformations of the region. on the one hand, you have the plantation economy continuing well into the 1930s organizing the production of commodity crops and organizing labor well after enslaved people. their freedom and his rights secured through the reconstruct and amendments faded. of course, with flagging federal enforcement and judicial erosion. well, cash is not addressed forcefully. perhaps the greatest for continuity in southern history remained or remains the persistence of the logics and the processes of white supremacy. maybe as we see the plantation system kind of wane, but the power of this continuity thesis remains very strong. and historians kind of keep coming back to even as, you know, woodward and, others and
myself kind of push back against it. and there remains, i would say, particularly in popular imagination, perhaps with, seth, dad, that there this kind of singular southern that is warped in its defense of hegemony and economic privilege and power and some singular class set of southern principles that are aberrant from the nation, that are there to be one or lost. the era and perhaps exploited and manipulated to some other ends by outsiders seeking political power. now sometimes advance this thesis themselves selves. my my lovely grandmother, when i asked her you know what do you see as the biggest change in the south? you know, she was born in 1917, so she watched a lot of changes happen and she said, well, think is when all those northerners moved down here. and i asked my grandfather about, you know, politics and like why the republican made
inroads the south. he says, well, i don't know. but, you know, anybody ever got a paved driveway? that's when they started voting republican and so you people with driveways, you know, there's a lot of paved driveways in the south now. so i don't know how, you know there's a lot of correlation maybe going on in that thesis. but the story of the south's one party politics, likely a familiar one as our the details of in party dynamics. certainly there are moments long before 1968, 1972, when segments of the south went for the gop or not. they had paved driveways. hoover crats in 1928, for example, tennessee, virginia and texas and. florida's votes for eisenhower 1952. but votes reveal, i think it said the dynamics and candidates
of those elections and contexts rather than some signal of a realignment yet come and they were not necessarily bellwethers that should support some teleological pointing to the saliency of some future southern strategies. you know. you know had gop planners only of it then they could have exploited it at. that particular moment. but that also that doesn't mean that in the south in these years weren't instrumental in shaping a viable political strategy and it relied i would say that strategy relied more on capital movement perhaps. with all those northerners bringing their paved driveways and into a formerly solid democratic stronghold. but for that movement to happen you have to look at how economic elites in the south can did their preference is for
political economy, how they viewed the south's competitiveness and what would take to be attractive location, business investment for the south to be an attractive and viable region for a mobilization it required a congruence of policy interest, political strategizing, a convergence of cultural vision and language and rhetoric. you know, think of terms like free enterprise as as that being a term that would be able to describe the southern economy and the national economy and you know, perhaps do a lot heavy lifting as well as you know, i must say this word synergy that allowed political planners to construct a political identity that appealed across regional economic and class lines. so much of that work, though, i would argue, was not done. a political strategist outside
of the south or in the gop but by politically motivated interests in the south, we could call astroturf as elizabeth tandy schirmer does, rather than grass roots actors who sought leverage, their economic power into political influence to preserve very economic arrangements that made them so powerful within the south. and i look at a group, the southern states industrial council, as i did bring book just to show it off. they convened in december. 1933 in chattanooga, was where first meeting was, and they did so with the professed purpose of advocating for the south's economic future against the new deal or in their minds at the moment, to out protections for. the south's special economy, namely its low wage base of labor, its racialized employment structure within the new deal
they thought were in the democratic party. got a voice here. we're going to carve out specific protections for our regional. model and proved increasingly more futile time. and so found themselves having to be kind of flexible and instead adopting a set of terms that were sort of coded what they wanted that appealed to interests that they were more likely to be amenable their policy vision for federal minimum wages, maximum hours, unionization in particular to as well as enforcement or not enforcing civil rights and desegregation. and so as this quest for allies outside of the south within the south for a political economy preserved segregation and low wage labor structure that ultimately ends up being the fulcrum for the development of the inroads a two party south
that that i focus on. so gonna turn it back to christine and see who else has a theme to weigh in on here okay. okay wonderful thank you so much. so up next is, going to be professor ted miller, who is a historian of american politics, southern politics and political culture and capitalism. he is an associate teaching professor of history at northwestern university and author of i'm sorry. not a problem at all. just want to make sure my my college gets the recognition. oh, i might have misspoke. please go ahead. a problem. well, thank you very much. and you for hosting this purdue university. and thank you, katherine brownell, for organizing this
esteemed event, among others, organizing this esteemed event. my work has centered on a novel interpretation of the republican southern strategy, and it breaks from that the traditional understanding, the southern strategy, which saw barry goldwater. my my book was called not country came out in 2015. the birth of the southern strategy and rise of the far right in dallas and this. this book would break from the traditional version of the southern strategy that says that barry goldwater, richard nixon and ronald reagan would break the democratic party's solid south and also segments of the north by capitalizing on the the reactions of white to the events
of the 1960, when events about the counterculture or the decline, about traditional, the decrease union membership, the tendency whites to see themselves as home tax payers school parents rather than workers or reshaping the political thinking. but i also want to to be sure, the democratic party's support for a affirmative action, school bussing, welfare race made these northern southern white voters conclude that the party no longer protected their interests. but those african-americans. so in order to attract these disaffected voters into the gop, fold it was politicians like goldwater and and nixon. they developed this southern strategy and they framed
colorblind discourse of rights, freedom, individual, small government and appealed to the middle class. suburbanites. now republican, colorblind conservatism appealed the class advantage rights freedom of choice, cultural concerns. race always hovered in the rhetoric. this narrative cratic discourse secured racial privileges like, the spatial segregation of suburbs justified a minimum diversity in schools. my book not would challenge that traditional and say that the gop strategy and i focus really on the early southern strategy rather than the long southern strategy, which south mentions and was so instrumental. the introduce by angie maxwell, whose book was was pioneering.
i argue that this this new strategy that that i developed or didn't develop it talked about was born not in the 1960s, but in the 1950 southwest. and it specifically more racial in so intense racial in motivation and application. so i argued that it was dallas republicans. my book focused on dallas and dallas. republicans, i argue, were blazing the trail for the the gop southern strategy, making those racial appeals to. white democrats as early as the 1950, as early as 56. and i show that it was a bruce alger who is a dallas elected to
congress 1954. the first dallas republican says reconstruction. and it was john tower, the texas republican elected in 1961 after lyndon johnson became vice president. and john tower would serve until 1985 and a number of other from dallas who had used specific racial strategies to capture these white. the whole point among was to make it very clear that the three republican party was not sympathetic to the interests of african-americans. and i argue it was algiers, 1956 campaign, which was an important precedent. it's an important moment for the racial in the future of southern strategy because marked the first time that a southern republican at least i found had abandoned this measured on
desegregation and embraced a segregationist. a harsh segregationist position to not only maintain his seat, maintain his coalition, but build upon it. he was he was signaling to white voters that he was antagonistic towards the interests of civil rights and to blacks. it was tower who i argue the same thing. he he argues early on that we need to abandon our position. the party that is the party's position as party of thaddeus stevens the heroic pennsylvanian who led the radical republican who led the republican effort in during reconstruction. so it was he's arguing for a
more for a more racial or a more specifically racial. promotion of the party. that's what tower is doing. following in the footsteps of of alger, when one southern senator greeted tower and when tower was won his seat and into the senate. he was greeted in the he was greeted on one of his committees by a democrat republican senator excuse me, a conservative senator. when that democratic senator said, we want to welcome them, we want to you welcome the south
back to the confederacy. so it was a tower towers moment. towers moment was was key after tower. you see incidents. it was goldwater who would pursue a southern strategy. he first demonized the civil rights act, which became law in the summer 1964. he also his team produced the the film choice, which was which goldwater himself racist. goldwater introduces the. the the law and order strategy which is pursued by richard nixon. so goldwater is also complicit in this racialist version of a southern strategy. this is continued, of course, in
the campaigns. richard nixon, who who argues for a more blatant law and order strategy. you also see it particularly in the campaigns of ronald, who talks of he talks of welfare queens, who talks of. strapping young bucks who began his which was obviously a racial code. you also see it in the reagan decision to begin the his campaign in neshoba county, mississippi, where three civil rights leaders were murdered and freedom summer of 1964. by by the end of his term in
1988. three fourths of african americans were convinced that reagan was a racist. so i argue that it was more intentionally racist from the beginning. and i think that this, despite the twists and turns, this as angie maxwell demonstrates, effectively it's a it's a question of one step forward, two steps back for the the republican party's southern strategy. but i think we see by. 2016 with donald trump's campaign where it's a more explicit use of race and that was proposed to him of course by steve bannon. steve bannon is arguing for a more forceful, explicit, not in direct use of race. i think you could argue even mitt romney apply these kind of
kind of things because he would say nobody asks me about my birth certificate. so, i mean, these are the the racial aspects i think has been the re-emphasized because. i'm not criticizing the work of going beyond and looking at long southern strategy because i think it's it has a lot of of usefulness. but as we go that particular direction, i don't think we should lose of the fact that it's it's intention and intention is very important. it was racialist in the beginning. so that was what i produced. okay. wonderful. thank you so much to the three of you for such an amazing start to this.
i can't wait to sort of dive in more and lean into some some more conversation about this what we've sort proposed and maybe you've covered that already is i'll start out a question i had in mind as a sort of very not easy one, but a very sort of like basic one about how we might define the southern strategy, but i think there's been so much richness that that i'm going to move on to, the more sort of substantial question that is still on the southern strategy. we might call following you ted the like longer southern strategy versus the newer also kind gets talked about in the framing of southern a broad sort of southern exceptional chasm into, mid-century, southern, mid-century and later southern strategies. and i'm wondering if we can think together about what in your view has the frame of the
southern of southern exceptionalism or the southern strategy either reveals about american politics writ large or southern politics. i suppose. and what it has included or prevented us from seeing about the direction that american politics has taken since the mid 20th century has been a useful framing. southern political history. and then maybe this is where i'm really interested in leading us to to think is how in in what respects or deeply does it remain useful us today? have we entered a kind of different kind of era or not? i would love to hear sort of comments from from guys. for those of you who would like to weigh in on those. so i'll open it up for people to to discuss. i mean, guess for me the, the
big question is and i kind of posed and kicked this around. to what when we talk about southern men, are we really just blaming looking at looking backwards in this period of trumpism and saying where does this all come from? right. and so that's i see some important connections. it's great i'm writing about the southern strategy people are interested in. and there's all things it's great for sales, terrible for my children's future. right. and so, you know, as we look back are and this is what you know coates we're all talking about this idea of, you know, the trajectory of southern strategy and, how we've developed and this, you know, my father's idea, right? that this myth that it's just always been and it actually goes
back to the confederacy. right. and, you know, where was the problem? you know, the irony that my father's the solution is secession. when you know, that's generally what we think is the problem. the first place, the idea of like, you know regional distinction and identity. i, i i worry that you know this what i like about brock is that he's who dedicated the republican party. i mean, i like, i like him for lots of reasons and i miss our conversations, but i'm beginning to, you know, i'm struggling with, you know, the humanizing aspect because i know played a role in systemically the direction i think he played. my argument is that he played more of a role in the systemic of the southern ization of politics and its elements of appealing to white working class voters. right. and this includes, you know, the
evangelical piece. it's not just race. right but that it has overall eroded our institutions something that brock held sacred. and that's the irony of project that and so and about him as this sort of break you know he really tried to reorient the republican party towards black voters in 1976 and 1977 when he became the chair of republican national committee. that was his core emphasis was reaching out to black voters. and so and he's a he's a tennessean southerner who used who was sort of somebody who charted the strategy. and so for me, wonder, like, are we overlooking the degree right? that there are there's a spectrum right? that it's not just this. and there are a lot of
historians, you know, are i think oversimplifying this for the wider public in ways that are useful and do bring attention to the southern, but in all things, when scholarship meets public, it overlooks the the exceptions and the dips and the i think it also overlooks the human agency right, the sort of the ways that people make. it was not this clear pathway. and and so that's where i think that understanding the personality in the people and the relationships and the tensions matter. but then, you know, again, i can't blame people doing that for wider consumption because. that's how you get heard. and so for me, the question is like how do scholars present the southern strategy to the wider public in ways that are nuanced and complicated but also digest
and i think we're doing a pretty bad job of that right now actually because i think we've got the digestible piece for people like my dad. right. but he doesn't for me, you know, i that you know the second part of that story is we talk for a half hour when i bought him about actually you know i will actually my dad a lot i think that's allowed so sorry that was a long answer just one piece that that's kind of what thinking as far as one of your questions. well, we've been circling around this concept of, southern exceptionalism. and i think there's this idea that, you know, the that the south contains within it some you know poetic like exceptional exceptionally bad with white supremacy with racialization and that there is something to be exploited there. and if we only eject to the south all of a sudden the nation's problems with race will
be solved right. that is a very, you know, attractive way of seeing the world as a very simple solution. right. if you're looking for a for a solution to this. but the reality course is much, much more complicated. so i have i have some active learning here to do with in the room and i'm going to give you all we're just going to collect three dates. i have a quote for you from i read the quote and i just want three suggestions as to when you think this comes from this is oral okay. all right so here we go this. is john barr there's no reason you should know who this is. he says the southern states are no longer willing to play stooge for elected democrats, who attempt to use our party regularity as the means of delivering our party and country to alien borders from within, who seek to capture for a continuation enlargement of their diabolically un-american purpose.
these minority groups overplayed their hand and overlooked the fact we of the south were american first and democrat second. so and three years south. you got a year, got to guess 1964. all we got 64 years in 1919 ten when world war one more 1948 1948 close us do you win the prize? i i can give you back my book. it's 1944, so close right. sounds a lot like dixiecrats, right? and really it was dixiecrat. that's a he. this was a man was a new orleans pen manufacturer who was trying to draft robert byrd, a not robert, the other byrd from virginia for and they were advocating to be the regular to take back the the democratic party for the true south the truly american jeffersonian
south free from of federal intervention. and there anti-new deal you know that they felt themselves they'd been kind of pushed to the sidelines this party and you know they were they weren't going to take it anymore. and so what you see is this idea of this idea that we're going to throw off a party in which they increasingly found themselves in the minority among new deal liberals is also who might compromise on civil rights, which was intricately tied up in their strategy to preserve the separate southern wage structure, that it rests on a racial is view of the southern social structure. you but you can't separate out their economic motivations from their social and cultural predilections. yes, that is absolutely true. but you know, this is also an era in which we see globalization beginning to rise, or at least after the war. it was, you know, on the rise. you know, it's i think it's no
accident. we see this southern strategy narrative surrounding it and sort of the the reshaping of this rhetoric occurring within the midst of the the processes of globalization and these new strategies to construct american and u.s. capitalism and political economy going into and where see those dallas businessmen right. they were extremely active that 44 push to draft bird you know so they they were already. you know, marinated and they were there's this whole like électeurs strategy that they were going to like the texas regulars were going to come in. it was a whole nefarious plot to kind of take power back within the democratic party in 44 prior to dixiecrat walkout, which was obviously all about civil rights and but at the same time these business interests were very wary of this appearing as just a
southern thing because they wanted to find those allies and to, you know, capital investment to the region, but also this pathway into gop where they aligned their economic and social interests with, what they saw as the policy agenda a pro-business policy agenda of gop. and so they were very conscious. lee re fashioning the idea of the south for political purpose says so that it would be an attractive set of actors pull in these these national party interests. ted yes. well, i was going to mention george, because i he realized beyond before everybody else
that racism plays in the north. when he when he went to boston he debated a group of harvard students and many of the harvard students expected him to be outwitted. he he really was was enstrom. mental in he blew them away at and he was just in his explanations but he realized and did very in his elections in south boston and he realized early on that this is not just a southern phenomena and on this is an american and it plays elsewhere. so i think to to it's insular if we were to determine that this just a southern phenomenon this this is nationwide and it it it
was was growing and at the same time the 1970s with the bussing crisis. it was something that nixon to realize that this is a this this racism is not just limited to the south many many northerners even embraced this concept. we see this with donald trump the idea of southern heritage that it is heritage. donald trump is from york, although he's a he's a florida floridian transplant. now so it's but i think it it's i just wanted to make the point that we're not to demonize the this is a little tangential i just want to make the point that it's not only a both a southern a northern phenomenon. it's also a democrat phenomenon. it's hillary clinton who says we talk about super predators.
she talks about. there are other instances that in that campaign, 2008, which seen as race baiting, it was, it was president who mentioned in criticize president obama early on it was called the he was criticized as being a clean candidate. remember this these these lines whether intentional in moment are are not just republican. i mean and you can you can go down the line can look at jimmy carter jimmy carter in part was able to i would argue defeat ford by making the case that people should live be able to live in in the segregated of
their choosing. so it's it's not just a southern phenomenon. it's not just a northern phenomenon. it's an american phenomenon. but it also comprises both parties. so and. so i am suggesting that this is that this conclusion renders the southern strategy studying the southern strategy. not useful. but i we should also realize the extent of this. so i'll i'll just add briefly to that that that there's a central tension in looking the southern strategy between, you know, is this some kind of top down orchestrated strategy to build a new constituency see identifying voters amenable and, you know,
applying on both, you know, whether they're vying for this, you know, how forcefully, they're going to apply dog whistles, coded racial language, appeal to it. and, you know, that there's a sort of cabal all at the top trying to kind of come down and identify something or is something that is from, well, say, the bottom up or the astroturf up orchestra guided by particular interests within the south, strategizing for particular policies, you know, do we have to look, you know, the macro or the micro, i guess might be another way of of of categorizing this? i think that's really important because for, you know, you know, ted mentioned, you know, looking at maybe something like the 1964 civil rights act as a way to whether a politician was appealing to white politics based on the southern strategy. but, you know, for me you know,
and this is brock's explanation for why he said this, his biggest regret of his life was voting against the civil rights act. but his argument and so did goldwater but they they had a different rationale for it. it wasn't you know, they put this in terms of just of defending white supremacy. that said, obviously it brock understood its significance and that it was in defending white supremacy. right. so you know and he under he understood that element sort of and regretted it. but i wonder you know was there any for him politically in tennessee to vote for it? and if you look you know, al gore senior, as i mentioned before, voted against the civil rights act to he's considered this sort of made, you know, senator. and so that, i think, feeds back to what you're saying is, you know, is this really something new? and i don't see it the brock
papers he wasn't thinking, you know, how can we stoke racial and you know to some extent the republican was just following the constitu anc and so is the southern strategy really a bottom up thing and it doesn't necessarily have that intentionality that that element. and i think that's maybe an important aspect that maybe we need to think too too complicated more. i love that that question you ended on was really excellent. i want to open it up for others to in with their own questions. if you're on zoom with me. you can the raise hand function and and i can go ahead call on you in the room. i might enlist some help doing that calling on folks of course panelists themselves. i'm going to open it up to you guys as well.
if you haven't spoken yet and, you want to throw in a question or a comment. you could also just introduce yourself before get going on your question. so, okay, so we do have we do one question here, right? can i go ahead. okay. hi. ted frantz from the university of indianapolis. i really enjoyed this discussion. i'm wondering, seth, for your father or kate for sort of your grandmother. we think about region in a more complicated, but especially moving into the 21st century. what you were here in indiana today, which sometimes is described as the middle finger of the south, for those of you who don't know that. right. but i'm wondering how much the 21st century version of this has built on southern strategies and how much the republican party was able extend the vision that they might have sort of perfected in the south into states like indiana and ohio.
as you think about it, because you mentioned kabaservice that there's this quote in it where it's i it's william saxby, who's a senator from ohio, who's who says? something like he didn't want to see his party to the states, the former confederacy. and so i'm wondering now it has. and i'm wondering how you all see that playing out in the 21st century post. reagan or maybe even pre-trump in era. thanks. that's a really good question. i mean, one way and i could kind of turn this to ted because he was to mention a little bit about what his his last project was on the birchers and thinking about conspiracy and how important that a role that plays and the right today and how that was i think an element maybe if we to extend the southern strategy to different places that that conspiracy. i mean the thing that surprised me about brock was that his father was a democrat kind of a
tennessee valley authority pragmatic democrat who then turned against new deal but never left democratic party. he actually was a senator for a few years as a special election type deal, just kind of was sort of appointed for being kind of a local guy in tennessee. i guess that's the way it worked back then. but, you know, he. he he would listen to what's his name, fulton junior. is this conspiracy theorist radio, sort of like conservative shock jock fulton lewis jr was his name. and so and he was a cold war hysteric. and so this idea that there were like these former democrats who are now listening to this conservative kind of anti anti new deal, also cold war
conspiracy element, it started to feed and i think thrive. and that was a part of this kind of fear of you were talking about this in your quote right this you know fear like the unamerican ways of people outside of south and influencing them and that that i think in lot of ways fomented a lot of this conspiratorial thinking that we see. but ted, this is really up your alley, so i'll stay in my lane and hand it over to you if you want to talk about conspiracy and southern exceptionalism. well, first of all, i have to say that i'm not a i'm not conspiracy theorist. oswald did it alone. and and but i study it and. but but before i address that question. i just wanted mention that i think in many the southern strategy for republicans has
been success fall. and now it comes down to strategy, down to legalistic methods like gerrymandering. that's how they win these elections you don't have to the southern strategy you you you can gerrymander and pick up votes. you can also restrict the vote. we're seeing the same times take the same types of methods which were employed during reconstruction. but as far as i to give hate to write a cookbook here but i mean it's if there was a if there is a direction that i see the republican party at least the republican party turning is this adoption of ridiculous inane conspiracies like the 20 election being stolen and the q and on whatever and on is the
the pizzagate nonsense, the the, the, the whole birther which which is tied up in racism, of course that seems to be the direction that as far, as, as strategy because that is a, you know, if we look at if we look at the particularly if we call this southern strategy, those to be more prevalent, those conspiracies in non northern. non northern states. but they're there in northern states. well but it's a we see it of course in desantis in some of the moves that desantis has made. but i that that's that's
something that is that's something that is a direction for a southern strategy. and unfortunately, that that's a that scares me that that that very much scares me. but what happens when you look within states right at different constituencies these states or with different constituencies the north and i think you know it's how do you slice it always slicing it at the state like a red versus blue counts or we looking more granularly at different population lines with different access to education public services. the industrial re industrial asian capital movement, how are we assessing you know, the these different subregions within the united states in their commonalities. and i think that that would probably have a lot more to do with is talking about than, you know some sort of like national party and electoral.
but i want to return to the indiana question because on the drive in here, i took a road trip to get here because i love road trips. who doesn't? and on the way in, drove by and knew corporate headquarters off of a rural highway with a german flag. a mexican flag and a u.s. flag outside. and a german. and i was like, well, there it is. that's the new globalized business. more foreign businesses are located manufacturing in the south in the 1990s than any other region in that. but that includes places like indiana. they had the same development strategies that has now become the national you know thanks lucrative entitlements states enticing investment and poor promise of cheap onion denies labor or right to work laws which are now the nation the national norm. thanks the janus decision essentially the that we see that business model that strategy of
u.s. capitalism becoming the national norm. you know, under deval patrick in massachusetts, when evergreen solar came that came because of, you know, a particular state led strategy to entice that company to move there. and then, you know, the the the the sense of betrayal when that company then picks up and moves shop someplace else, only to be replace it by another and that, you know, so if we're thinking about a southern strategy, there's another one coming from within that has become the norm led by people like like barry goldwater. and i'll just give another for elizabeth. sandy shurmur's book. sunbelt capitalism which focuses on phenix and way that that strategy of of capital investment has become kind of the story of american capitalism u.s. capitalism great brian go ahead. thank you. can everyone hear me.
thank you for this great panel. and it's good to see people even although virtually what might have seen on social media and things like that, you know, i with all the events happening, mass shooting. right. i wonder about gun rights is research being done or have been done with the gun in the south or is it another of an issue? right. is covered on all parts of the country, right? the west and the north, the hunters, you know, things like that. so thank you. i'm just going to put it in another plug for not another that is happening. and is a dissertation that is about to be defended. kari babbitt ski at our alma mater at boston university on
that very subject and which she looks at the nra's political strategy and construction of a particular identity around gun and sort of the armed citizen and i think we'll get very much to the heart of that question i can't i have dissertation sitting in my inbox and i can't wait to it because i know it's going to help us answer a lot of those questions. so i'm the one to answer that question maybe seth or i could take that. i, i think this actually is a very small issue, but it raises a topic that comes up again and again and again in my research, and that is this bigger thing. seth cotler, who's a great follow on twitter, had this amazing about the that we should really away from this declension model the republican party that it's strategy has gotten like worse right or and he definitely tries to draw this continuity that it's not a decline line and
finds ways in which elements of trumpism existed in the 1950s and the 1960s. that's again. and i will always like and retweet. he's just fantastic and i've met him and he's great. but i really think we need to be, you know, a little bit more careful and in how we analyze that that trajectory and i think that's something that that keeps coming up. so and i, i definitely see in guns that show up in brock's papers but it's just one of many issues. and so this is what i do. i at and say, okay, evangelicals that became the republican party. i should just say that he's the one who started it guns.
he talked about guns. he talked about, you know, religion and school so does that mean that he's one who sort of brought religion into the republican party? no. right. but he did play a role. and so this is how we struggle with this that, you know, do we look back at every sort of piece of the republican strategy and say, aha, it was always that republican strategy always revolved around guns. it didn't it was really a tie. so i do think that there is a declension model that does work. i do think republicans have of recent fallen in love with gun culture it has gotten worse. it's not that it's not the same as it always was. and i think that sometimes historians that too much with a southern strategy is is to try to create that that continuity. and i think we need to think of a better that if it did change we need to start finding a point where it did change and we let ourselves off the hook by saying it was a sort of monolithic that
that there was no declension because i do see a break i mean, some people blame newt. that's fair but just find somebody to blame. right. we've got to find problem besides saying like that's the gop that's the southern strategy. it's just it's not good enough any questions? well, this of gets away from the southern strategy right now because this is this would be more focused on a midwestern strategy plenty of gun owners and in midwest and even in flying a gun owners all over the country nra did not start with this concept that the ultimate goal was the was the the abolition of the second amendment. but the john birch society. they did and i think that that that something like that could play. now that this conspiratorial angle that's nonsense.
but lot of people are buying into and that also scares me that that's sorry to be morose but well i just i think we're i think what we're doing is is circling around much bigger question than just the southern strategy is. and i think we are the reason why this is such a perplexing question. and this question of when does it start and when does it end are our kind of red herrings? because i think in the discussion of this southern strategy, what we're really talking are different iconography fears and rhetorics about americanism, american democracy, american who is american and is endowed with the right kind of have a say in governance and shaping political economy. you know, i look at the the southern states industrial councils rhetoric about southern strategy by the cio oh to unionize dixie operation dixie
in post-world two and you know the president i've got another quote i'm i have always got quotes he says the cio is coming south because they realize there is more true here than any other section of the country. and he painted as as another round of carpet, you know, coming here to try and destroy something truly american. and what he's doing there is trying to appeal to this of of identity. and america ism linked to to a constructed form southern identity that evokes, you know, that jeffersonian kind of ideal and, you know, and he, you know, talks about faith and religious identity rights of the individual and posits this, you know, standing back against unionization, as, you know, standing as the bulwark of democracy. that's what he calls it. you know, that the south is the bulwark of democracy against he saw as these pernicious policies of of socialism and communism
that they are going to be saving the nation. they're by doing that. and that's i think you know when we think about the you know the way that these issues stand in for much bigger questions about american democracy and the workings of of government to reflect the different interests that when we're talking about the southern strategy, really what we're talking about is that bigger set of. and so you know how we define political identity becomes very much bound up in in this question rather know sort of like slicing and dicing different constituent groups to. think about who's who's going to win votes in any particular election and. i think for me also, you know, we look at all these different southern strategies and differences and. ted and i were at a panel one time and, you know, a distinguished historian stood up and he said, you know, but you know, you have all these
variations of conservatism and shades of conservatism and even democratic conservatism that appealed. but for people of color and black folks, it doesn't matter. it all looks you know, it looks the same. so, you know, for, you know, brock, a moderate good government, you know, can it of and he lost all but like a handful votes at his home city it didn't matter there you know so it's i think it's really important that for me that makes me wonder if the term actually is as meaningful as we think or maybe that is its core meaning and so it's about perspective you know if you look at it from an economic perspective if you look at it from a national perspective, the party perspective, the way we frame it changes and. i think the way it gets tossed around is again, kind of maybe always bring that that value and we don't get those voices always so that we get a clear
interpreter of what the southern strategy means and why. it's amazing when i talk to republican and my interview process and i asked them you why did your party struggle much with with black voters in 1976 and they all have horrible things to say about jimmy carter but none them acknowledge their role in marginalizing black voters. right. because they don't they don't see themselves, as wallace writes, they couldn't have done that. that couldn't have been them. they were. and so they they see that distinction between from their perspective. but and this is something that i'm struggling with is, you know trying to get the perspective of other that that didn't necessarily see a difference between brock and wallace whether they're white voters or black voters because many didn't know i guess i have i.
one that that i like to sort of pose again to whoever wants to take it up and this one has to do with themes that we've already of talked about a little bit in the conversation but it strikes me one of the features of their southern strategy is as it's typically understood even in my discipline political science is it invites the i guess this is true for for laypeople. well, it invites the view that southern politics is more or less dominated or wholly by white conservatism. and i like invite the panelists to comment, comment on or complicate that view of southern politics or that view of the southern strategy, because it's a sort of wonder like what that, what we can actually, by understanding the kind of suturing of conservatism, the southern strategy, but also what are we maybe missing or what
kind of gets excluded? our view perhaps in the complete cities of southern politics as that relates to american politics writ large, or the histories of black southern politics like, what what are we kind of able to see? what are we not able to see if we're sort of working from understanding of of southern southern strategy as, it is sometimes typically understood, you know, as more or less aligned completely with conservatism. i'm just of curious your views on on battle opening up for pushback against that question or respond to it? i wanted to take a chance, kirsten, to throw that question right back to you. i know, that you've done some political science research and and carceral studies and thinking about mass incarceration in the south. and i think that feeds into that
specifically or and would i also like to see maybe just from what you're hearing, the way we're talking it and in the way that we've talked this in political science, how. this idea of southern strategy, politics plays out or how you treat it or, how it intersects with your own work. okay. yeah, i would be i'd be happy to comment. i'm going to go to you first. your hand went up. so go ahead and then i'll a few thoughts to say in the sure, my my my answer is very is very quick i was thinking that rather we we have a situation in here where if we're focusing on these generally white males who are introducing these these southern strategies, although not white males, we do lose sight of
african-americans, but we do have an opportunity. i was just we have an opportunity to study those who excluded from the republican party who on their own volition, like jackie robinson, who criticized what was going on at the cow palace and in goldwater's campaign, we have a we have an to look at the grass and see how those african-americans who were part the republican party, who comprised republican party, who were led who led the republican during reconstruction like revels. we can take a look at those who were left out of the republican party martin luther king was associated with the republic party. so it to me that it provides an opportune to look those who
walked away who walked from the republican party and enriches their history so. okay yeah. thank you. yeah. so a little bit a little bit of background about about my research. as i study, i'm in political science and i study how carceral regimes transform in one of the ones that i am particularly interested in understanding and what my research has been based on the transformation of the sort of carceral institutions of jim crow, specifically the chain gang system into sort of explode did very large and robust prison system which happened around that the process was longer, but this starts to happen around the sixties and seventies and it's
it's funny it's sort of like a parallel story in a to a kind of southern strategy type of explanation. but one of the one of the kind of groups of politicians that i am focused on in my research are were self-described moderates in north carolina and georgia are the two states that i focus in on. and they really take up a lot of the language, the kind of mid-century, you know, racial liberalism that. you know, it almost they almost sound like truman in a way. right. so there is a kind of one of my sort of things that sort of sort of well, sort of well with the southern strategy language is that it really seems to to to really be an alignment of conservative ism with the southern strategy. and at the time you see these notes of other sort of differently oriented policymakers who are trying to re articulate the south, not the
south right now. you see that in some of your your your work and some of your today interested in something similar, right. so i was thinking about your what you were saying earlier about. yes, like just like not being the south. right just sort of like that articulation that you hear from time to time. i'm not southern. right. it's sort of something that mid-century re, you know, political moderates where we're saying to them selves and to and goes and kate with your research too that the kind of northerners westerners who is whose businesses they're trying to get into their states. so there really for me this complication to the southern it becomes for me this really slippery concept almost immediate like just and i think i have a grasp it it's like there is another element to it that that seems to come in. so that sort my discombobulated
answer to my own question and partly why i wanted to pose it to you guys is to get some sound like hopefully some clarity on on that one because i do see of of racial liberalism in there i see elements to some extent of more conservative, meaning black politics in the region. and that would be more true today as. well, i'll of throw throw it back out there. and also we have a couple more minutes for last minute questions as well. yeah, i mean, i'll just pick up a little bit on that castle piece i teach class on marijuana in american history. it was the first class on that topic. according to google, the classes very popular it's a real hit. so this is on c-span. the so you know but the students some students write really papers about whether or not the
marijuana legalization movement should shift from a state by state to a federal because of the arguments go, the south, will never go along state by that it's sort of the solid south when it comes to cannabis legalization, there's a few and maybe some on some medical areas, but really, it's not happening. you know, we talk about jeff sessions. you can take the boy out of alabama, but you can't take the alabama of the boy. and you know that. and a lot of ways he said that, you know, bad people smoke marijuana, which is all sorts of coded language. and so, you know, i do see distinct contours. now, this connects with race, thinking about, you know, the amount of mass incarceration that is in the south, in the united states, the massacres racial is a federal national problem. but it does have regional specifics. thinking about the that
marijuana legalization connects with religion and, how important that is and how people perceive of the issue. and so there are all different ways in which there are, you know, particular issues that i think exaggerate aspects of american political the american political system. and so for me that indicates that there is something difference, right? there is. that doesn't mean that, you know, we have go in for the southern exceptionalism, but that there something unique going on is a certain mixture that that resonates and a political message that resonates specifically this constituency well before we i wanted to add an exclamation point and a caution to be very cognizant of when talking about these trends when that language of southern exceptionalism or continuity creeps in and to you know apply
that historical lens very you know, one category sort of categories we haven't talked about today is the herbal or urban and rural or agrarian in south you know, the agreement in south. very supportive of the new deal because didn't threaten the south's racial caste or its its hiring practices instead of that opposition really from industrial centers and urban areas of the south. and that that constituency would only grow as those promoters of of capital push forward for these these business friendly policies. but of course, that came with a sort embedded, more coded language around hiring practices and who who was the sort of benefit beneficiaries of this industrial policy. it's a good note to end on perhaps. i want to thank everyone for for coming and for this to work. to my fellow panelists, for your excellent research commentary on