Trump, Bryant Stooping for Nervous White Vote | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Trump, Bryant Stooping for Nervous White Vote


Donna Ladd

You can't make it up. The governor who is fighting to enact an anti-LGBT law in Mississippi is working diligently to get the Ku Klux Klan's choice for president elected to the White House. And that isn't even the amazing part.

The real crazy is that the white supremacists' candidate came to Mississippi and called opponent Hillary Clinton a "bigot," and condemned the Democratic Party to a nearly lily-white crowd as being against black people (ignoring that many black people are in and help lead that party). Then Bryant told the press that Clinton, of course, is the "bigot" because she once called inner-city youth "super-predators" and because the late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd was "her mentor," and he was in the Klan once, you know.

I see what Bryant and Trump are up to here, and it would be funny if it wasn't so insulting to our intelligence. They are trying to convince the white people who don't want to be considered racists that it's OK to go ahead and vote for the guy that men like David Duke and Jared Taylorwho is more relevant today than Duke on race—are tickled to be this close to leading the free nation.

It's a play for the nervous white vote after all the lies and fear Trump has pushed about black-on-white crime (tweeting fake numbers from a neo-Nazi dude), Mexicans (rapists, murderers, thieves) and Muslims (anything bad you conjure). That is, it's cool to vote for Trump because, you know, Clinton and the Dems are actually the racists.

Donald Trump’s Most Vicious Lie, Yet?

Trump is only the latest politician to spread vicious lies, fear about people of color.

It's not like most black, brown or Muslim people are buying it. The hard-right GOP is pandering to white folks they assume are dumb, or closet-racist, enough to fall for it. They assume they know nothing about political, and southern, history.

Trump and Bryant's GOP wing is trying to make this bait-and-switch into party talking points. Last week, a Twitter troll tried to school me in the fact that the Dems are the ones who fought to keep slavery and did all kinds of other bad racism stuff. "The Democrats are the party of the KKK, slavery, eugenics ... Horrible," he tweeted at me.

Southern Democrats, known as Dixiecrats, did fight to keep slavery while the Party of Lincoln eventually freed the slaves, and infuriated the South all over again with Reconstruction, which the old Dems then managed to end, leading to decades of Black Codes and Jim Crow laws.

Old Dems embraced the KKK, and created the Citizens Council in Mississippi in the 1950s. They had leaders like Strom Thurmond, who condemned the "nigras" when he ran for president in 1948 as the States Rights Democratic candidate—and who then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican, praised in 2002, saying the nation would have been "better off" had Thurmond won the presidency in '48. Like other southern Dixiecrats, Thurmond later converted to the Republican Party in 1964 as national Democrats were embracing the Civil Rights Act.

The old Democratic Party was awful—always obsessing over how dangerous black people were and pushing to stop civil-rights or voting legislation that would help them. (Ahem.) But by the Civil Rights Movement, and like with slavery in the 19th century, national Democrats were starting to change their views on segregation and racism. Yes, it was late, but they got there. It culminated in the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, pushed through by a Texas Democrat, President Lyndon B. Johnson.

This Dem treason infuriated Dixiecrats, and some wily Republicans used that anger to help strengthen their party's future, creating the "southern strategy" that still haunts us, ultimately bringing us Trump and his overt appeals to the Dukes, Taylors and assorted bigots of the country.

It was an easy script for Republicans like U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, and Presidents Nixon and later Reagan to follow: Appeal to the anger of southern Dems abandoned by the national party, preach about state's rights, humor their love of Confederate "heritage," and oh yeah, be sure you use the KKK's rhetoric of how dangerous people of color are. A lot.

GOP political strategists quickly got involved, especially Lee Atwater and a young Haley Barbour, who turncoated to the Republican Party fresh out of Ole Miss. He later helped lead the party's wink-wink appeals about black crime and welfare mothers, down to reducing poor Headstart children to fixtures in their mothers' whorehouses.

This Republican deal with the racist devil has never been a secret. You can find a video of the late Atwater on Youtube explaining exactly how the evolving appeal for bigots had to change since the overt racism of the 1950s: "You start out in 1954 by saying, 'N-gger, n-gger, n-gger.' By 1968 you can't say 'n-gger'—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now (that) you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is (that) blacks get hurt worse than whites," Atwater explained in direct terms.

Both parties' leaders could have led white voters down a less-hateful path. They could have campaigned without the innuendo that helped lead to mass incarceration and "super-predator" garbage—by the way, a popular and false Republican meme pushed by George Bush's drug czar Bill Bennett about young black men that many Dems wrongly repeated—and both parties could now be as integrated as the Democrats.

Some GOP leaders have even apologized for the strategy. Then-RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman apologized to the NAACP in 2005 for the GOP's strategic use of racial polarization for votes, and more recently, many Republicans have warned about what the party has become on race.

But Trump and Bryant and their defenders are doubling down. They won't admit the open secret of the GOP's dance with the dark side, and they won't condemn men like Duke by name. They won't tell the racists to get the hell out of the party. They won't back off false crime rhetoric or the idea of building a southern wall to keep brown people out. They talk about eugenics, a terrible and elitist practice supported by conservatives and "progressives," Democrats and Republicans, to take away a woman's choice of whether to have a child, forcing her to be sterilized if the child was thought likely to be low-IQ. They throw around the word "eugenics" perhaps not knowing that the same junk "science" created the "super-predator" meme the GOP foisted on the public in the 1990s.

Instead, Trump and Bryant slam people who grow and evolve—such as Clinton and Byrd—who actually did change and condemn earlier racist comments and associations. Bryant talked about super-preds and bigotry in the same remarks where he said that the "Mississippi flag should be treated with the same etiquette and respect as the United States flag."

Bryant excused Trump's assertion that Clinton is a bigot just months after he failed to support bills to change the flag, instead proclaiming another Confederate Heritage Month to celebrate that fight by the Dixiecrats to keep and extend slavery. And he said these things while he is still pushing to enact HB 1523, which even black legislators call the new Jim Crow.

Seriously, you really can't make it up.

Support our reporting -- Become a JFP VIP.

The news business has changed dramatically in the past year, and we need your help more than ever to keep bringing you important stories about Jackson and the Metro. Become a JFP VIP with an annual membership or you can Sign up as a monthly supporter. Thanks for anything you can do to empower our journalism!


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus