The First Southern Strategy: The Taft and the Dewey/Eisenhower Factions in the GOP

Michael Bowen

in Painting Dixie Red

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813036847
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043999 | DOI:
The First Southern Strategy: The Taft and the Dewey/Eisenhower Factions in the GOP

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This chapter rejects the “white backlash” thesis that attributes the South's embrace of the Republican Party to racial issues, and white working-class abandonment of the Democratic Party over civil rights, taxation, welfare, and affirmative action. Backlash implies that the South's move from the Democrats to the GOP was reactionary, but this chapter argues that angst over civil rights alone did not guarantee a Republican realignment. Instead it stresses the building of Republican organization in the South—resources, field workers, communications infrastructure, and leadership—beginning with the 1944 campaign of Thomas Dewey, and culminating in Herbert Brownell's mastery of such organization on behalf of Dwight Eisenhower that shook the southern GOP out of its “post office politician” mentality. Unlike the presidential campaign of 1968, in which Richard Nixon amassed a “silent majority” around the concept of law and order, this chapter argues, the Republicans' first southern strategy was not based on race.

Keywords: Herbert Brownell; Dwight Eisenhower; Thomas Dewey; Robert Taft; First Southern Strategy

Chapter.  9181 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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