Southern Strategy Rises Again?

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In one of the opening shots of the 2006 Senate campaigns, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has started running an attack against Senator Robert Byrd on West Virginia television stations. Go watch the ad, or read my transcription:

1952. War in Korea. And Robert Byrd went to Congress. Much changed since then. Byrd voted for soldiers in the 50s; today against body armor in the war on terror. Then he stood with working families; today he votes higher taxes for the middle class. Then Byrd protected our flag; now he votes to allow flag burning. Senator Byrd. We all agree he’s changed. But is it good for West Virginia?

Forget the ludicrousness of finding a few votes that if stretched might appear to be contradictory across a five decade Washington career. Forget the ludicrous attacks that come in the middle. The unseemliness of this ad is much more subtle. Agreed: a lot has changed since 1952, and so has Robert Byrd. And what change is he perhaps best known for? For being an ex-Ku Klux Klan leader, who (eventually) repudiated his repugnant civil rights record. So when the ad says “We all agree he’s changed. But is it good for West Virginia?” I can’t help but hear the ghost of the Southern Strategy whistling Dixie. And didn’t the Republicans just sort of apologize for this sort of thing?

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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