We recently posted about the intramural war of words that has broken out among New York Times' columnists over the issue of Republicans and their use of racial issues to gain electoral advantage.
The war isn't over, and Columnist Paul Krugman makes more valid points in his column today.
Krugman notes that "everyone knows" white men have turned away from the Democratic party over God, guns, national security and so on. But he says that is not true when the South is excluded. Research has shown that 40 percent of non-Southern white men voted Democratic in the 1952 presidential election, and that figure was virtually unchanged (39 percent) in 2004.
Southern voting patterns, Krugman says, are distinctive. Democrats decisively won the popular vote in last year's House elections, but Southern whites voted Republican by almost two to one.
Was this an accident? Krugman says even GOP leaders admit it was not. "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization." This came from Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, speaking in 2005.
Finally, Krugman returns to Reagan's campaign kickoff speech in 1980 at Philadelphia, MS. In December 1979, Krugman writes, the Republican national committeeman from Mississippi wrote a letter urging that the party's nominee speak at the Neshoba County Fair, just outside the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. It would, the committeeman wrote, help win over "George Wallace inclined voters."
As requested, Reagan appeared and declared his support to states' rights--which everyone took to be a coded declaration of support for segregationist sentiments. Sounds to me like it was pretty well planned.
"Regan's defenders protest furiously that he wasn't personally bigoted," Krugman writes. "So what? We're talking about his political strategy. His personal beliefs are irrelevant."