altogether, and purportedly told Martin Luther King after he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and handed the souvenir pen to him over his shoulder that "We've just turned the South over to the Republicans." He was right. On the face of it, Nixon's Southern Strategy seemed innocuous enough, even progressive, because it called for black voter registration drives, the same kind promoted during the Civil Rights movement. But Nixon’s goal wasn’t to empower blacks; it was for Blacks to vote Democrat, which would in turn scare Whites into the arms of the Republicans. They figured that for every African- American joining the Democrats (which they presumably now would with LBJ's war on racism and poverty), a few Whites would scare off and join the GOP. Phillips wrote, "Whites will desert in droves the minute it becomes a black party." While Philips came to regret his role in the 4
HIST 1302--- Chapter 19 cynical plan, one has to admire its stupendous success. For a number of reasons, but partly by manipulating and pandering to racism, the party of Abraham Lincoln now has a near lock on the former Confederacy. Conversely, the party of the Confederacy has a near lock on the Yankee Northeast. As of the 1950s, it wasn't written in stone that the Republicans would necessarily infuse their conservatism with an anti-civil rights orientation, but writers like William F. Buckley, Jr. and politicians like Goldwater and Ronald Reagan found that thinly veiled appeals to states' rights and nullification of federal power won votes south of the Mason-Dixon line. Rather than Lincoln, they sounded more like John C. Calhoun . Everyone understood the subtext . The political parties' shift on race had long-term implications, making it difficult for the Democrats to win in the South, and difficult for the GOP to cast a wide demographic net in the 21st century. As historian Gary Wills wrote in 1975, "American politics is the South's revenge for the Civil War." Pentagon Papers What derailed Nixon ultimately was his paranoia, and the event that kicked off his most destructive paranoid phase was the leaking of classified materials by Daniel Ellsberg . Ellsberg was the Julian Assange or Edward Snowden of his day, if you're familiar with recent leakers of classified information. As an employee of the Rand Corporation and the CIA, Ellsberg spent time in combat in Vietnam in the early 1960s, and started as a true believer in the cause, even distinguishing himself as unusually courageous. But Ellsberg turned against the war, partly because of his wife’s influence (they dosed on LSD), and he began to Xerox® classified documents at CIA headquarters. He sold the material to the New York Times (and later the L.A. Times-Examiner ), who published it in serial form, bit-by-bit. The Pentagon Papers revealed nothing incriminating about Nixon’s handling of Vietnam, because they stemmed from the Kennedy and Johnson eras. But they showed that the U.S. was in combat in the early 60's before the public knew about it and, most damning, the CIA’s opinion that the U.S. wasn’t really involved in a civil war so much as it was trying to impose its will on a mostly resistant population.
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- Fall '09
- History, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Nixon administration