This year's crop of Republican candidates features an embarrassingly long list of people who've made racially troubling -- and sometimes outright racist -- statements and faced very little in the way of consequences. From John Raese of West Virginia making fun of Sonia Sotomayor's name to Rand Paul of Kentucky saying he still objects to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 2010 elections is a string of macaca moments.It's as though the Republican Party wants to bring back the Southern Strategy that delivered the Deep South to failed presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964. That's when Republicans learned how to lock up the white vote. Republicans learned strategically, mathematically, that sometimes it makes sense to turn every minority voter against you and have that be the cost you pay to lock up all the white votes.As Richard Nixon's chief political analyst explained back in 1970, "The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. And that's where the votes are."Does this work in 2010? Does this work in more than just the South? Does this work in what's expected to be a low turnout general election?The Southern Strategy now means floating the Dr. Chow Mein stuff. It means floating the anti-Civil Rights Act arguments. It means floating the racist jokes, bearing the criticism for it, but locking up the white vote in compensation. It also means taking the risk that the minority vote and the pro-civil rights vote turns against you. For the results of that, we have the cold light of Wednesday, November 3.[Melissa Harris-Perry on race and the 2010 elections ]
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