The New Southern Strategy: Quote Ayn Rand to Blame the Middle Class
It's a well-documented fact of history that for the past half-century at least, conservatives have used race resentment as a way of cutting the safety net in order to further enrich the already well-to-do. If the objective is to cut Medicaid or food stamps, bring up stories of lazy (black/brown) ne'er-do-wells, young bucks and welfare queens in the to steel the minds of white voters and fool them into destroying their own safety net. It's been a remarkably successful tactic, and one that is still being used with frequency to this day.
One of the keys to the race-baiting attack has been to take the social malaise that develops in economically depressed communities and attribute that malaise to some in-born defect of the people of the communities themselves. By blaming poor outcomes on genetic and cultural moral lassitude rather than pre-existing economic oppression, it becomes much easier to deny social services to those communities while lower taxes on wealthy white "producers."
Throw in some hippie-punching and a blame campaign waged against the cosmopolitan values of the post-60s to account for everything else wrong with America that can be fixed with economic libertarianism mixed with strict religion-based social controls, and you have the basic political and economic program of the Right. It has been very effective.
But that program is now becoming a victim of its own success. As economic libertarianism has dragged down middle-class wages and benefits, suddenly the social malaise that has long gripped minority communities is starting to make itself felt across the entirety of America, including among working-class whites.
It may be safe to say that there was an implicit racist assumption by the Economic Masters of the Universe that working-class whites would continue to cheerily labor away for longer and longer hours for less and less pay, simply through an appeal to their Calvinist spirit. It was assumed that while banks and hedge funds could walk away from their debts while getting government bailouts, average suburban homeowners would be too proud to accept government assistance or to engage in strategic default.
But reality intervenes. People get upset when they expect to have a worse economic future than their parents or grandparents, and it doesn't matter what color their skin is or what church they go to. Economic oppression universally leads to social malaise, including among working class whites.
And this is why we're starting to see a more universal embrace of Objectivism on the right not simply relegated to race-based attacks. It's why we're seeing books like Charles Murray's, insulting working class whites for not being happy to take $28,000/year jobs with no benefits, when their parents and grandparents made twice as much. It's why we're seeing the renaissance of Ayn Rand, who let her scorn for the less wealthy among us fall upon the white and black alike.
As the middle class disappears in America (and as overt racism becomes less and less acceptable), it will be increasingly necessary for conservatives to shift from a Nixonian Southern Strategy that insults only minority communities, to a more general Objectivist strategy that pits those still hanging on to a middle-class existence, against those of all races who have fallen behind. All, of course, while telling those who have fallen behind that it's the fault of their differently colored brethren, and the coastal urban elites who supposedly look down on them.
Murray's ecumenical, post-racial Objectivism isn't an outlier. Watch for it to become mainstream Republican opinion within the decade. Republicans have no choice but to go there now that they have destroyed the economic futures of so many formerly middle-class whites.