Sunday, February 5, 2012

Newt's Southern Strategy

After Newt Gingrich's defeat in Nevada yesterday, the candidate outlined a new strategy, heavily dependent on racking up additional delegate gains in upcoming southern state primaries, while facing the fact that his chances appear to be declining in most of the rest of the country. While the candidate can still point to the fact that the votes for "not Romney" so far exceed the votes for Romney, this Southern strategy does not sound like a viable way actually to win his party's nomination.

So, has Newt simply lost his grasp on reality altogether, or does he have some other goal? What his campaign strategy is starting to remind me of are the quixotic quests of former Southern strategists like Strom Thurmond, who led a Southern walk-out from the Democratic convention in 1948, or George Wallace, who led a third party campaign that won only Southern states, in 1968. Newt Gingrich must be acutely aware of these historical parallels, as he prides himself on his devotion to history. Now he seems condemned to repeat it. If Gingrich has in mind something like the protest movements led by Thurmond or Wallace, then the Republican party may be facing a defection of white Southerners similar to what the Democrats already experienced during the years of the Civil Rights movement.

This time, however, it is a lot harder to understand the cause these Southerners would be fighting for, or how they could possibly end up with meaningful political power. Is the South just doomed to replay their failed rebellions of the Civil War era, and of the Civil Rights era? Both those times Southerners fought in the service of terrible causes, but maybe this time they will follow Newt in an effort to prove that they always had a more noble purpose than the ones they seemed to be fighting for. If that happens, this year's Southern rebellion may end up fighting for no understandable cause at all.

(photo of unofficial campaign button from Atlantic Wire collection of strange Republican 2012 collectibles)

No comments:

Post a Comment