From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution, 1963-1994

Overview

In this trenchant survey of the last three decades, the historian Dan Carter focuses on the evolution of race as an issue in presidential politics. Drawing on his broad knowledge of recent political history, he traces the "counterrevolutionary" response to the civil rights movement since George Wallace's emergence on the national scene in 1963 and detects a gradual confluence of racial and economic conservatism in the coalition that reshaped American politics from the 1970s through the mid-1990s. According to ...
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Overview

In this trenchant survey of the last three decades, the historian Dan Carter focuses on the evolution of race as an issue in presidential politics. Drawing on his broad knowledge of recent political history, he traces the "counterrevolutionary" response to the civil rights movement since George Wallace's emergence on the national scene in 1963 and detects a gradual confluence of racial and economic conservatism in the coalition that reshaped American politics from the 1970s through the mid-1990s. According to Carter, economic and social conservatives have denied any link between what neoconservatives have called the "new majoritarianism" and the politics of race, and Republicans have eschewed acknowledging Wallace as an influence, much less as a model. But the fundamental differences between the coarse public rhetoric of the Alabama governor and the smoother arguments of the new conservatism, Carter maintains, have been more a matter of style than of substance: in Richard Nixon's subtle manipulation of the busing issue, in Ronald Reagan's genial, avuncular attacks on affirmative action, in George Bush's use of the Willie Horton ads, and in Newt Gingrich's demonization of welfare mothers, the Wallace music played on. The new rhetoric may lack Wallace's visceral edge, Carter asserts, but it reflects the same callous political exploitation - now professionally packaged and test-marketed - of the raw wounds of racial division in our country.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his 1995 biography of Wallace, The Politics of Rage, LSU professor Carter called the former Alabama governor, "the most influential loser in twentieth century American politics." Wallace saw in America's white suburbs a racism that, while perhaps not as outspoken as that in the South, could still be exploited. The three lectures that form the bulk of this book were given in 1991 when Carter was working on The Politics of Rage, so some of the argument will sound familiar. But it is short and focused, so readers who weren't willing to devote over 500 pages to Wallace can discover his lasting effect on American politics. If Wallace took the issue of race to the rest of the nation, Nixon embedded it in a set of social issues and attitudes: "The trick lay in sympathizing with and appealing to the fears of angry whites without appearing to become an extremist and driving away moderates-or, as Ehrlichman described the process, to present a position on crime, education, or public housing in such a way that a voter could `avoid admitting to himself that he was attracted by a racist appeal.'" In the 1980s, Republicans were able to embed encoded racial issues quotas and welfare dependency in their anti-government campaigning. While Carter has supplemented his original lectures with another chapter that includes the Republican victories of 1994, it addresses Newt Gingrich without mentioning one man who has done some cribbing from the Republican playbook-Bill Clinton. Nov.
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Meet the Author

Dan T. Carter is Educational Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at the University of South Carolina and former president of the Southern Historical Association. He is the author of Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South, winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and the Lillian Smith Award; The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics; and When the War Was Over: The Failure of Self-Reconstruction in the South, winner of the Avery O. Craven Award of the Organization of American Historians. He won an Emmy Award for his role as chief historical adviser for the documentary George Wallace: "Setting the Woods on Fire," which is based on his book The Politics of Rage; and he was a primary adviser on the documentary film Scottsboro: An American Tragedy which was nominated for Oscar and Emmy awards. LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Politics of Anger 1
2 The Politics of Accommodation 24
3 The Politics of Symbols 55
4 The Politics of Righteousness 87
Index 125
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