Kevin M. Kruse @KevinMKruse Historian. Author/editor of White Flight; The New Suburban History; Spaces of the Modern City; Fog of War; One Nation Under God; Fault Lines. Apr. 09, 2019 2 min read

Once again, this is utter nonsense.

First of all, she says that the Southern Strategy is a "myth," when we have actual documents from inside the Nixon administration and elsewhere on it.

Here's just one example, a 1969 memo written by a young Lamar Alexander, who was a White House aide:

Beyond those internal documents, it's something that Nixon strategists discussed openly in the press at the time as well.

Here's Nixon's strategist Kevin Phillips in 1973:

Because of all that very real evidence, there are lots of books on the Southern Strategy, ranging from contemporary works of journalism to recent works by historians and political scientists.

Second, she insists the two parties didn't switch roles on civil rights, which is again, complete nonsense.

Here's a thread I did on the larger arc, which is probably *the* main through-line in 20th c. American political history.

Owens, predictably, points to the small number of congressmen who switched parties as "proof" that the larger literature on the racial realignment is a myth -- even though that isn't actually something historians and political scientists emphasize in the work on this.

As I've noted here, Strom Thurmond *was* the only Southern Democratic Senator to switch parties in 1964 ... because he was the only one who got a special deal that preserved his seniority and thereby preserved his perks and power in the Senate.

That said, there were plenty of others who switched, especially if we look beyond the outliers of senior congressmen and look at state and local politicians.

Again, though, individual politicians' switching parties isn't how scholars track this. Larger trends are more important, and pretty obvious.

We can, for instance, look at how the South and the nation as a whole switched its vote over the course of the civil rights era.

Or we can examine the Republican Party platforms over the course of the 1960s:

Or we can consider the public polling on where the parties stood on matters of race and civil rights:

Or we can listen to former Republican strategists like Kevin Phillips and Lee Atwater, or former heads of the RNC like Michael Steele and Ken Mehlman, all of whom noted that the Southern Strategy was quite real: 

Instead of all that, Owens tells people to check out a Prager U video that "further explicates" the idea that the southern strategy was a myth.

Pretty sure she's talking about this one, which is hilariously bad.

You can take the Nixon archives, the word of GOP strategists and RNC chairmen, party switches by politicians and region, the GOP platforms, polling data, and all the rest.

Or you can handwave all of it away and call the Southern Strategy a "myth" because of a "Prager U" video.

You can follow @KevinMKruse.


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