At The Dallas Morning News, Jim Mitchell writes:
In 1968, Richard Nixon swept into office with something called “the southern strategy,” which many Republican candidates have used as a wedge issue to attract white southern voters. It is a main reason GOP candidates have made little progress with African-American voters despite some natural affinity on some social, religious and economic issues.
If you are African-American, it is hard to vote for GOP candidates who demonize and exploit racial differences as a voter gathering tactic. Unfortunately, this has been an undercurrent of American politics all the way back to the Civil War and Reconstruction; the 1968 “southern strategy” re-legitimized racial wedge politics in the modern era and has played out in some form in subsequent presidential campaigns, often in the expression “states rights.”
The “Southern Strategy” story has been kicking around for years, and it does not grow more accurate with age. As I wrote here three years ago, RN indeed courted Southern GOP leaders in his nomination race. In the general election campaign, he competed with George Wallace for the votes of white Southerners. But he sought most of his support elsewhere. He carried only two Southern states that he had not won in 1960: North and South Carolina. He got a total of 57 electoral votes from states of the Old Confederacy, compared with 111 from “blue states” in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Coast. He also made a serious effort in New York, where he took a respectable 44 percent to Humphrey’s 50 percent. He had a national strategy, not just a Southern strategy.
As for “states rights,” yes, there is a major politician who uses that expression. Referring to legislation that he opposed, his politician said: “I believe it’s discriminatory, I think it interferes with states’ rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it.”