The autopsy of the GOP in 2012 continues, this time with Laura Ingraham suggesting that the GOP adopt some variation of the Southern Strategy that made it possible for Republicans to do well in national elections from Nixon to Bush II.
“The Republicans have to take a lesson from — and I hate to bring up Reagan again — when Goldwater got shellacked in ’64, Bill Buckley and Brent Bozell Sr. [sic. Ingraham means Brent Bozell, Jr] and all these conservatives got together and they said, we’re going to figure out how to sell this idea of economic conservatism and the conservative framework to new voters. And they went into the South and they transformed Mississippi and Alabama, all these places where people had never voted Republican before.”
This quotation was posted by Raw Story, and the Raw Story goes on to assert that the real story behind the Southern Strategy was that it was a matter of cultivating racism among southern whites.
RS continues: Buckley "used his National Review to argue that southern whites were superior to blacks and Brent Bozell wrote that the federal government had no right to end segregation."
I confess I don't really see much wrong with this analysis. By the end of the sixties, the Democratic party was starting to lose its grip on the pro-segregation vote, and the GOP saw its chance to capitalize on that.
Bozell was of course correct that there is no constitutional provision for ending segregation, although it was not Bozell, but primarily Frank Meyer and Buckley who made the case for whites as the "advanced race" in the South as I note here.
Ingraham makes it sound like the GOP turned to the South and garnered support based on its alleged "free market" program. This was hardly the case. Then as now, the GOP, with the help of Buckley and National Review, appealed to white Southern voters through its position on the culture wars. Southerners have never been reliable on the free market issue, although many have long been reliable votes in favor of militarism, anti-immigrant sentiment, nationalism, and other aspects of the culture war. This past primary season, the deep South loved Gingrich and Santorum, and hated Ron Paul, for example.
UPDATE: Writes JD: "Part of the Southern Strategy was Nixon's efforts to name a Southerner to the Supreme Court. He nominated federal judge Clement F. Haynsworth, from my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. The Senate skewered Haynsworth for his earlier rulings in favor of segregation and ultimately rejected his nomination. The poor guy never knew what hit him."