The current arc of Republican success begins with Nixon’s Southern strategy, a program of ideology, voting restrictions, and coalition-building around race and white entitlement to power. Harry Dent and others (including a young Lee Atwater) laid out the framework. Thurmond led Southern Democrats into the GOP. He supported Goldwater, shepherded Nixon past Reagan’s challenge, and was an early user of the term, “socialist.” (Yet, he was careful to fund infra-structure in black communities–and everything he opposed passed in spite of him–but he and Bob Dole involved cloture on Jesse Helms’ filibuster to pass the King holiday bill!)
Enormously successful at the grassroots and state levels, this race-based strategy led to a mass exodus of Southern Democrats and a new GOP ascendancy. The glue between conservatives and populists was always race; now it no longer holds. The same forces that pulled Obama to success pulled up hidden and embedded racism in the society.
Hence, the confusion. Unable to admit “race fail,” they have no options. As a populist force, racism is very alive. But it no longer translates politically. None of the GOP models, including Ross’, will find success until the GOP resets its racial appeal.
(Primarily, I tell stories. Some concrete: personal, community, historic, with details, images that enter creative space and time. Some abstract: a look at values and ideas that are inside our souls and are the silent actions and unspoken words of our lives. This used to be called “deep thought.” It’s my favorite place. It often draws responses as it did here, on Paul Krugman’s column. /wr)