MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - We need a strong Republican Party!
Our democracy works best when rival parties are fountains of vigorous new ideas and when--to change metaphors--they serve as watchdogs for each other. No party has a monopoly on the truth or on corruption, either. We need more checks and balances, not fewer!
But if it is to return to health, the national Republican Party needs to shed some toxins. It needs to take a page from the book of its many local elected officials who never got into the national craziness in the first place.
But the national party is another story. Craziness is a polite term for what it got into.
The worst poison in the national Republican Party is its long-standing "Southern Strategy," developed in 1968 after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts guaranteed southern Blacks the right to vote. The strategy involved inviting segregationist Southerners to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republicans. In return, the once-honorable party of Dwight David Eisenhower adopted the old segregationist practice of race-baiting. This strategy meant writing off the Black vote--but as Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips told the New York Times in 1970, the Republicans didn't want the Black vote; they wanted the votes of racist whites. Phillips said, "From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that....The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are."
Well, that's where the votes were.