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A 'Southern Strategy' For A New Generation

There was some talk in Republican circles that using race as a wedge was simply no longer a viable political strategy in the 21st century. It led then

There was some talk in Republican circles that using race as a wedge was simply no longer a viable political strategy in the 21st century. It led then-RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, for example, to address the NAACP in 2005, in order to acknowledge how wrong the party has been on the issue. He conceded that Republicans, for decades, tried to “benefit politically from racial polarization.” Mehlman concluded, “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”

So, can we throw Republican Southern Strategies into the dustbin of history? Apparently, not yet.

Strategists for Rudy Giuliani are quietly preparing a significantly race-based campaign strategy to strengthen support among socially conservative white voters, in the South as well as in the North. […]

Giuliani’s eight years as New York’s chief executive exemplified a Northern adaptation of the GOP’s politically successful “Southern strategy” - the strategy playing on white resistance to and resentment of federal legislation passed in the 1960s mandating desegregation - resistance that produced a realignment in the South and fractured the Democratic loyalties of white working class voters in the urban North from 1968 to 2004.

It’s hard to know exactly what this strategy would look like in practice, but Tom Edsall’s report suggests Giuliani will appeal to white conservatives by emphasizing his conflicts with NYC’s African-American community. The idea, apparently, is to deflect attention from his positions on abortion, gays, guns, and immigration by pointing to race — the implicit message being: “How liberal can Giuliani be if he constantly fought with black people in New York?”


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