I dunno, but if there’s one thing this whole Joe Ricketts fiasco shows us it’s how much the Republican Party has lost its grip.
I’ve just started reading Paul Krugman’s 2007 book The Conscience Of A Liberal (I know, I’m behind on my liberal canon) which is an excellent read. I was struck by this:
Today leading figures on the American right are masters of what the British call “dog-whistle politics”: they say things that appeal to certain groups in a way that only targeted groups can hear — and thereby avoid having the extremism of their positions become generally obvious. [...] But in the early days of the National Review, positions were stated more openly.
Thus in 1957 the magazine published an editorial celebrating a Senate vote that, it believed, would help the South continue the disenfranchisement of blacks:
The central question that emerges — and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal — is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being. it is the advanced race …
National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority, in which case it must give way, and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of its violence.
The “catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal” dismissed by the editorial would, presumably, be the document known as the Constitution of the United States.
This is the National Review, circa 1957. Advocating white supremacy over blacks, because black people are “socially atavistic” and whites are “enlightened.” Whites must maintain control of society through policies like Jim Crow, they say, because society will regress if blacks are allowed a seat at the table. In 1957 it was perfectly acceptable for the intellectuals at the National Review to openly espouse such White Supremacist views.
Post Civil Rights era, such views have been pushed underground. They’re still there, of course, but you didn’t openly say such things. No, you spoke in code. You make reference to “welfare queens,” for example.
Until we got our first black president, that is. Not long ago National Review writer John Derbyshire was fired for a column (published in another magazine) basically espousing the same views as that 1957 editorial, and he’s since gone full-on white supremacist on the pages of Vdare. Pat Buchanan wrote an entire book espousing racist fearmongering about “the end of white America.” They aren’t hiding this stuff anymore. It’s out there.
So I have one question: what the hell happened? Republicans have ditched the dog whistles, they’re speaking in fucking tornado sirens. Birtherism and attacks on black churches and references to President Obama being “a Kenyan” and “a food stamp president,” not to mention the racist photos featured at conservative think tanks like the John Locke Foundation: they’ve ditched the code and are just letting it all hang out, and it doesn’t seem Karl Rove or other party apparatchiks have any control over it.
Is this what the Tea Party has done? Is it people like Rush Limbaugh who constantly rail against “political correctness” deciding, fuck it, I’m a racist bigot and I’m proud of it? Is it the internet giving more people a venue to spout their racist views?
Is it that the rest of us are more savvy to these dog whistles and see them for what they are?
When did the Republicans decide to ditch the dog whistles?
Next time someone starts a sentence with, “I’m not racist…” think of this lady (h/t, John Cole):