In liberals’ fantasy world, President Lyndon B. Johnson did the right thing in pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though he knew Southern Democrats would switch parties and become Republicans.
According to the legend of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and won the four southern states that went for the Dixiecrat Party in 1948, plus Georgia. Though Goldwater did win these states, he was not opposed to civil rights: He had voted for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, was a longtime NAACP member, had long since voluntarily racially integrated his own businesses, and had funded a major anti-discrimination lawsuit in the 1950s. As a strict libertarian, Goldwater was — like Rand Paul today — opposed to one of the ten titles of the Civil Rights Act, the one giving the federal government the power to interfere with private hiring decisions. While many Dixiecrats supported Goldwater because of his opposition to the act, Goldwater inarguably did not appeal to their racism to get their votes.
In enacting the apocryphal Southern Strategy in 1968, Nixon supposedly appealed to racist Southern Democrats to win the Dixiecrat-Goldwater states. However, Nixon won only one of the five states his diabolical strategy had allegedly poised him to take: South Carolina. All four of the other states — plus Arkansas — went to segregationist former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who ran for President as a third-party candidate in 1968, but as a Democrat in 1964 and 1972.
So Nixon didn’t turn the Dixiecrat-Goldwater states Republican — he didn’t even win most of them himself. Republicans didn’t start winning even a majority of these five states until 1992 — by which time most of the Dixiecrats had died off — with the exceptions of landslide elections in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988. In 1976, Republicans won precisely zero of the five Dixiecrat-Goldwater states.
Yet the left-leaning media continue to use ignorance about the history of civil rights to cultivate support for insane policies, such as opposition to voter ID laws.
To take one example, New York Times columnist Charles Blow recently wrote, “Republicans are leveraging the deep pockets of anti-Obama billionaires and sinister voter suppression tactics that harken back to Jim Crow to wrest power from the hands of docile Democrats.”
Note the deceptive construction of that sentence: to uninformed readers, it could sound as though Jim Crow was used “to wrest power from the hands of docile Democrats,” whereas the wresting actually refers to something mentioned before the Jim Crow reference.
But Blow likely doesn’t mind if uninformed readers misinterpret his meaning, if it will gin up opposition to voter ID laws.
And liberal journalists with even an inkling of Republicans’ dominant role in pushing civil rights legislation throughout the 20th century are no doubt happy to keep their historically ignorant audience in the dark.