The Root of It All
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
This, my friends, is what you get when you push, subtly and not-so-subtly, racism as the unspoken pretext for lowering rich folks’ taxes — aka the Southern Strategy — for the past half century:
When Republican activist Rae Hart Anderson last ran for Minnesota Senate, she ended up conceding the race to Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, the state’s first Hindu legislator, by urging him to convert to Christianity. Four years later, she’s again facing off with Chaudhary. But while she’ll be bringing the same religious fervor — both pro-Christian and anti-Muslim — to the table, she’s adding a noteworthy new belief: the insistence that President Barack Obama isn’t the legitimate president of the United States.
Deeply involved in GOP politics, Anderson is currently the precinct chair for the Republican Party in Fridley. She also ran for the deputy chair position in the Republican Party of Minnesota in 2007, losing to incumbent Dorothy Fleming. In her 2006 Senate challenge to Chaudhary, she was endorsed by the GOP.
And that’s only the start of the bigotry-fueled craziness, people. You really have to read Andy Birkey’s superb piece on Anderson for it all to sink in.
Again, Anderson wouldn’t be a viable candidate for dogcatcher if it weren’t for the “Southern Strategy,” the conscious decision made half a century ago by the Republican Party’s big-business bankrollers to spit on Abe Lincoln’s grave and embrace racism as a means of cutting corporate taxes. The effectiveness of it lies in the Republicans’ making sure that the bigots whose votes they want understand that cutting taxes = cutting government programs that help nonwhites. This way, a Republican courting the bigot vote need not be so crude as to use the N-word — instead, simply talking up tax cuts and talking down government as evil will suffice for the right people to get the message, without allowing those pesky liberals to be able to call you a racist and make it stick. As the guy who helped Ronald Reagan get elected explained nearly thirty years ago:
‘You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Ni–er, ni–er, ni–er.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘ni–er’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.
The election of Barack Obama, setting aside what he’s actually done or not done as president, was a serious blow to the Southern Strategy, that hideous bit of politics that is leading to what Eli describes as Bathtub America. But, as should be obvious by now, it didn’t come close to killing off that strategy — or the racism that sustains it. There is still enough energy left in the wounded serpent that is the Southern Strategy to lash out in a furious flowering of poison to corrode our moral fiber. The question is whether the corporate interests that back this strategy in order to keep their taxes low (or non-existent) will finally forsake the oncological, selfish model of capitalism for the more civic-minded one that prevails in Europe and elsewhere.