- Why do think Southern racist politicians chose to frame their defense of racial segregation through the language of “law and order”? What special advantages was this choice of words going to give them?
In “The new Jim Crow”, Michelle Alexander argues that after the 1950’s : “civil rights activists used direct-action tactics in an effort to force reluctant Southern states to desegregate public facilities. Southern governors and law enforcement officials often characterized these tactics as criminal and argued that the rise of the Civil Rights Movement was indicative of a breakdown of law and order” (Alexander, 40). That is to say, because civil right activists began to protest Southern States against segregational laws, Southern politicians took it as a chance to manipulate the subject and claim these people were “against laws”. Similarly, Republican politicians, during Nixo’s Presidential Campaign in 1968, realized that in this transformed political world: being straightly racist was not going to get them the sympathy and votes they needed to win. Consequently, they created a new way to subtilize their racist message and still get it delivered. That is how they began to frame their defense of racial segregation through the language of “law and order”.
Furthermore, according to Alexander this strategy gave them special advantages: it provide them with an excuse to fund systems of violence and do harmful publicity against minorities. All of it, without clearly stating their racist and socially manipulative agenda. Actually, it did not only provided them with funding, but also it help them to set a new political order in the United States by the reorganization of parties and the creation of a new majority.
- Do you think the Southern Strategy is still influencing American politics? Give an example supporting your answer.
Yes, I do think the Southern Strategy is still influencing American politics. In “The new Jim Crow”, Michelle Alexander explains: “The success of law and order rhetoric among working-class whites and the intense resentment of racial reforms, particularly in the South, led conservative Republican analysts to believe that a “new majority” could be created by the Republican Party, one that included the traditional Republican base, the white South, and half the Catholic, blue-collar vote of the big cities ” (Alexander, 43). In other words, the Republican Party realized they could make use of the law and order rhetoric to attract resented and lower income whites in order to create a new political majority. This majority would allow them to gain political power and provide them with a leading position in the ground of American Politics. Indeed, for me is clear that this strategy has continued to be followed by the Republican Party. A recent example of it is the strong continuous speech that former president Donald Trump performed all over through his campaign and during his years in office: “Make America Great Again” But, what did this mantra really meant? The phrase basically summarized Trump’s speech. A rhetoric with a strong focus on the importance of strengthening the police and Justice system. A rhetoric that condemned and blamed all economic, social, security and political problems on the legal advantages that the former Democrat administration had given to immigrants. Moreover, it is a fact that Southern States are crucial to win any type of political elections in the United States. Then, Trump would had just used the save-old rhetoric of “law and order” to get himself the votes he needed to make it to the office. However, his later more straightly racist communication backfired on him creating the perfect playground to allow Democrats take over in last year’s Congressional and Presidential elections.