On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” when an esteemed guest was asked about GOP leadership, he answered this way:
“I believe that the Republican Party has a party of followership. The problem with Republican leaders is that they are cowards. ... Republicans have been fleeced, exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex ... the followers, the donors and the activists are so mistaken about the nature of the problems the country faces.
“I went to Tea party rallies and asked this question: ‘Have taxes gone up or down in the past four years?’ They could not answer that question correctly. ... ‘Are we spending a trillion dollars on welfare?’ It is false, but it is almost universally believed.”
The guest was David Frum.
He knows what other, far-less-honest Republicans have come around to admitting: that the base of their struggling party is largely Southern and white and redneck. It is not what it is because of color or genetics, but because of beliefs — which are rarely spoken of plainly in the so-called mainstream or liberal media.
We should know by now that a redneck can be any color; the term, to me but far, far from alone, refers to an irrational loudmouth claiming to defend the best from the “good old days.”
Rednecks are just one brand of demagogue.
There are plenty of black demagogues. Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan presented a mix of hard facts and big lies and hostility as a form of rebellion against the oppressors. Ethnic oppression was quite real and could easily be proven, but its explanation did not result from white people being devils invented by a mad black scientist, as both Malcolm X and Farrakhan taught their followers. The “answer” to ethnic problems was not black Americans moving into an acceptable five states formerly of the USA. This was a version of segregation now and forever that convinced the American Nazi Party that these were dark people with whom they shared solutions.
This kind of redneck demagoguery has gone diverse and welcomes any extremists. This means that the Tea party knows that dance. It made a way that worked for the recently defeated Florida Rep. Allen West, a disgraced and discharged military man who went over the line on a prisoner but came back home a full-fledged, dark, muscular human mountain of paranoid hysteria, who is hopefully gone for good.
Or we can remember another mucked-up diversity symbolized by what Herman Cain has said to Sean Hannity about black Republicans like himself and Clarence Thomas, who have supposedly been targeted by black Americans misled, if not brainwashed, by liberals.
This argument has been repeated by Ann Coulter, who has said conservatives have “better” blacks than Democrats. Hmm. She remains the favorite traveler on a broom in the red sky of the GOP.
We may now look at all this as a partisan problem, something that has always exclusively defined Republicans. That’s laughably silly. It began with the Democrats, among them Woodrow Wilson.
As former president of Princeton, Wilson brought segregation to Washington, D.C., and proved himself the first fully redneck commander in chief. This tradition was continued in Southern politics and elected dozens of lawmakers.
The tradition continued until President Lyndon Johnson, a former segregationist, chose to take the side of the modern fighters of a civil war we called the nonviolent civil rights struggle.
During that time, Johnson passed legislation he knew would take power from his party. As I have often said, Richard Nixon did not miss what it meant when serious redneck Democrats, like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, became Republicans. The “Southern strategy” was the preparation for the GOP to be taken over by a kind of slowly mounting hysteria that has become self-abuse. These snakes were not charmed by a magic horn blowing such heavy Republican ideas. The serpents were never forced to lie down and shut up, or at least keep their serpentine thoughts to themselves. They bit the hands feeding them and poisoned the rational blood of the party.
The South definitely rose again, but this election proved it ran into a demographic wall that broke the party into extremist pieces, bitterly gathering in a small and hard place.
Peggy Noonan is among the few who tried to let some air into the musty room. She said that if the GOP cannot get its business straight with women voters, with Latino voters and appeal to both the diverse young and the black voters, it had better be prepared to lose elections for the next 40 or 50 years. Her interview on Fox News was ended as soon as possible -- it was too strong to be long. Her interview might have then made some viewers start thinking, not continue to celebrate their being supposedly victimized.
People like Noonan, Frum and Joe Scarborough are offering conservatives the only chance they have: Show some intestinal fortitude and challenge the loudmouth loons. Or doom yourselves to a descent down the tubes.
Stanley Crouch is a King Features syndicated columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org