Southern Strategy Rises Again?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


In one of the opening shots of the 2006 Senate campaigns, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has started running an attack against Senator Robert Byrd on West Virginia television stations. Go watch the ad, or read my transcription:

1952. War in Korea. And Robert Byrd went to Congress. Much changed since then. Byrd voted for soldiers in the 50s; today against body armor in the war on terror. Then he stood with working families; today he votes higher taxes for the middle class. Then Byrd protected our flag; now he votes to allow flag burning. Senator Byrd. We all agree he’s changed. But is it good for West Virginia?

Forget the ludicrousness of finding a few votes that if stretched might appear to be contradictory across a five decade Washington career. Forget the ludicrous attacks that come in the middle. The unseemliness of this ad is much more subtle. Agreed: a lot has changed since 1952, and so has Robert Byrd. And what change is he perhaps best known for? For being an ex-Ku Klux Klan leader, who (eventually) repudiated his repugnant civil rights record. So when the ad says “We all agree he’s changed. But is it good for West Virginia?” I can’t help but hear the ghost of the Southern Strategy whistling Dixie. And didn’t the Republicans just sort of apologize for this sort of thing?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate