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From the New Deal to the New Right

From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism

Joseph E. Lowndes
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1nps6z
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  • Book Info
    From the New Deal to the New Right
    Book Description:

    The role the South has played in contemporary conservatism is perhaps the most consequential political phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century. The region's transition from Democratic stronghold to Republican base has frequently been viewed as a recent occurrence, one that largely stems from a 1960s-era backlash against left-leaning social movements. But as Joseph Lowndes argues in this book, this rightward shift was not necessarily a natural response by alienated whites, but rather the result of the long-term development of an alliance between Southern segregationists and Northern conservatives, two groups who initially shared little beyond opposition to specific New Deal imperatives.

    Lowndes focuses his narrative on the formative period between the end of the Second World War and the Nixon years. By looking at the 1948 Dixiecrat Revolt, the presidential campaigns of George Wallace, and popular representations of the region, he shows the many ways in which the South changed during these decades. Lowndes traces how a new alliance began to emerge by further examining the pages of theNational Reviewand Republican party-building efforts in the South during the campaigns of Eisenhower, Goldwater, and Nixon. The unique characteristics of American conservatism were forged in the crucible of race relations in the South, he argues, and his analysis of party-building efforts, national institutions, and the innovations of particular political actors provides a keen look into the ideology of modern conservatism and the Republican Party.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14828-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 BEYOND THE BACKLASH THESIS
    (pp. 1-10)

    At a birthday party for Strom Thurmond in December 2002, Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) praised the centenarian’s role in the Dixiecrat Revolt of 1948, saying, “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.” Lott’s comments were widely quoted in the press and drew an angry response from civil rights leaders and liberal Democrats. Lott was initially taken by surprise at the outrage prompted by his words, and his office...

  5. 2 “WHITE SUPREMACY IS A POLITICAL DOCTRINE”: CHARLES WALLACE COLLINS AND THE DIXIECRAT REVOLT OF 1948
    (pp. 11-44)

    On November 8, 1944, one day after Franklin Roosevelt was elected to his fourth presidential term, southern attorney Charles Wallace Collins retired from his legal practice to write a book that would, he states, “rationalize and strengthen the position of the orthodox Southerner and . . . arouse him to action in the face of organized hostility to Southern States.” Finally published in 1947, Collins’s bookWhither Solid South? A Study in Politics and Race Relationsbecame both manifesto and blueprint for the states’ rights—soon nicknamed the “Dixiecrat”—Revolt. Although Collins’s intellectual guidance is generally acknowledged in accounts of...

  6. 3 “GOLDWATER WAS THE HORSEPOWER”: NATIONAL REVIEW AND THE NEW SOUTHERN GOP
    (pp. 45-76)

    In the decade following the Dixiecrat Revolt of 1948, Republican strategists began making inroads in the South for the first time in nearly a century. Since the end of Reconstruction, local Republican parties in the region generally functioned as patronage organizations whose sole function was to produce delegates to national conventions. As V. O. Key observed, “Southern Republican leaders are usually pictured as vultures awaiting the day when the party wins the nation and they can distribute patronage in the South. Meantime, they exert themselves only to keep the party weak . . . in order that there will be...

  7. 4 “YOU ARE SOUTHERNERS TOO”: THE NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS OF GEORGE WALLACE
    (pp. 77-105)

    The Goldwater campaign of 1964 galvanized the modern conservative movement within the Republican Party. But as Lyndon Johnson’s historic landslide election demonstrated, the Right was far from claiming any national victories. Over the course of the 1960s, however, a racial, antistatist populism emerged that spoke not just to diehard defenders of Jim Crow or to committed political conservatives, but to broader segments of the public which, confronted with political upheaval in the 1960s, were open to new political identifications. This new populism was pioneered by Alabama governor and segregationist firebrand George Wallace.¹

    Johnson’s victory in 1964 came at the height...

  8. 5 “THE SOUTH, THE WEST, AND SUBURBIA”: RICHARD NIXON’S NEW MAJORITY
    (pp. 106-139)

    The racial, populist discourse of modern conservatism congealed in the presidential campaigns and administration of Richard Nixon and thus was finally lodged in national governing institutions. Whereas the Dixiecrat Revolt, the Goldwater candidacy, and the Wallace campaigns had all failed in their immediate goals, Nixon succeeded. These other political phenomena prepared the ground for a Nixon victory, as each had contributed something critical to his message. Various political forces that had buoyed modern conservatism were, by the end of the 1960s, willing to dull the edges of their particular demands in order to achieve concrete power at the presidential level....

  9. 6 “GUV’MINTS LIE”: ASA CARTER, JOSEY WALES, AND THE SOUTHERNIZATION OF CONSERVATISM AFTER WATERGATE
    (pp. 140-154)

    The intense political divisions that proliferated in the 1960s, in both parties and in the nation as a whole, were not resolved in Nixon’s “new majority,” yet neither were they subsumed back into Democratic liberalism. One sentiment shared across the political spectrum in the wake of both Watergate and the Vietnam War, however, was growing disillusionment with government itself. Much of this antigovernment sentiment was concomitant with the rise of the Right, for antistatism was a staple trope of modern conservatism, found in the Dixiecrat Revolt, in the Goldwater movement, in the Wallace campaigns, and in Nixon’s own governing rhetoric....

  10. 7 BETWEEN POLITICAL ORDER AND CHANGE: THE CONTINGENT CONSTRUCTION OF THE MODERN RIGHT
    (pp. 155-162)

    In his presidential farewell address in January 1989, Ronald Reagan reflected on the historic political transformation he helped to produce. “They called it the Reagan Revolution and I’ll accept that,” he said, “but for me it always seemed more like the Great Rediscovery: a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.” For the fortieth president, the word “revolution” was less appropriate than “rediscovery” because while the former denotes overthrow and subsequent establishment of a new regime, the latter is an embrace of the founding commitments that make up the true American identity—a natural expression of who we are....

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 163-184)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 185-198)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 199-208)