In a perverse twist of history following the Civil Rights Movement, Republican elected officials won over the former Confederacy. As a result, the solid South is now the beating heart of Red State America. Consequently, since the 1960s, the Republican Party has increasingly embraced a neo-secessionist ideology in which the long-standing political consensus brought about by the Civil War is now called into question. In the 2012 campaign, this yearning for the good old days of Jim Crow and the Confederacy is in full bloom.
For example, Republican candidates have argued that basic constitutional protections can be decided on the local level in order to subvert federal authority. Some have even gone so far as to claim that individual states have the “right” to break away from the United States of America. The conversion is so complete, that a significant percentage of Republican voters now believe the Confederacy was right to secede, and that their traitorous state governments were on the correct side of history.
This embrace of the Confederacy and states’ rights is part of a broader strategy to destroy the social safety net, and as a negative response to how over the last five decades American democracy has become more inclusive. A fear of white oppression is also central to this story.
The Confederacy was first and foremost a white supremacist military state. It ruled through violence, terror, and the threat of harm to black people (and whites who dared to dissent). Consequently, one of its greatest fears was that blacks would gain their freedom and seek vengeance on white people.
During the 2008 election season, I heard someone actually voice this concern (that Obama would get elected and exact some sort of revenge for slavery or institute white slavery).
I considered it the sort of completely unrealistic fear which was based on ignorance, a lack of education, and a complete lack of knowledge of how established “white power” is in this country.
Coming from someone in rural Appalachia who has no more than a high school education, it seemed “understandable” how she could worry about something so ludicrous.
For a political “entity” to be espousing these views is — at best — an indication of their general ignorance and stupidity (if they actually believe these things), and — at worst — an indication of how they are willing to manipulate their supporters through fear, uncertainty, and doubt (aka “FUD”) if they don’t really believe them but are willing to use them anywhere.