The Republican Party’s response to the shooting of nine people at a Black church in South Carolina has been to return to its Progressive roots. Founded as a Northern liberal party in the 1850s, the GOP pushed an anti-Southern campaign which alienated the South and brought about secession in 1860-61. The party then led the war effort against the Confederate States and set up a military government which ruled over the defeated Confederacy. That government, much like the US government of today with its support for gay marriage and amnesty for illegal immigrants, forced a liberal agenda upon the South and simultaneously disenfranchised Right-wing Southern voters.
In the 1960s and 70s the Republicans changed course, embracing conservative positions designed to appeal to the concerns of White voters in the South after Federally-mandated racial integration and empowerment of the Black vote. This became known as the Southern Strategy and eventually turned the once solidly-Democratic South Republican.
Since the Charleston massacre the Republicans have adopted what might be described as the Anti-Southern Strategy, turning their backs on Southern Whites in an effort to appease the demands of Black protesters, the US media and liberals outside of the South. The pro-business Republican governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, has ordered the removal of Confederate flags from a memorial to Southern soldiers at the State capital building. In Kentucky, Republican US Senator Mitch McConnell has called for the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a Kentucky native and staunch conservative. This follows a charge led by South Carolina’s Republican governor Nikki Haley and two Republican US Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott to remove a Confederate flag from a memorial at the State House in Columbia. In Mississippi, Republican leaders are now pushing to change the State’s voter-approved flag to remove the Southern Cross.
This move to the Left and re-adoption of a strongly anti-Southern stance by the Republicans comes at a time in which US open borders policies are changing the demographics of many Southern States, shrinking the proportional size of the GOP’s base of White Southern conservatives. As well, recent elections have seen a reduction in White turnout, threatening the prospects of Republicans. Will the party’s recent charge against Southern heritage and historic icons hurt it at the polls? Will the move to appease Black and Left-wing protesters hurt the party? If just a small percentage of White voters across the South stayed home on election day the party could lose big. The GOP is playing with fire in Dixie. Will it get burned?
Note: In Europe the recent rise of patriotic parties opposed to mass immigration and loss of national sovereignty has forced bourgeois parties of the center-Left and center-Right to take a more nationalist stance on pressing issues. In the US two-party winner-take-all system both parties use rhetoric to motivate their bases of support and then move to the Progressive democratic center to win over the masses. In this system there is no check on the GOP’s drift to the center-Left. And the South as a distinctive region lacks a nationalist party like many distinctive regions enjoy in European countries such as the UK, Italy and Spain.