That Southern Strategy was a deal between Richard Nixon and Strom Thurmond to unite corporate Republicans with Southern segregationists. These are two quite different groups – corporate leaders and Wall Street partnered with "poor, rural, church-going voters" looking for a way to preserve segregation. And the corporate leaders "don't care about prayer in the public schools, gun rights, stopping birth control, abortion and immigration." And the common folk "don’t worry over marginal tax rates, capital formation, or subsidies for major corporations."
The problem was that the corporate types had no intention of fulfilling the dreams of the common folk, though they threw the occasional small bone. But this group could be whipped up to vote against the Democrats. Scott Lilly, a Democrat who was the staff director of the House Appropriations Committee said:
If [the common folk] ever fully understood that their more prosperous party brethren were contemplating deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to pay for [subsidies for major corporations], they would be in open rebellion.So what happened? The common folk finally understood. They realized they were being played as suckers. The GOP establishment always failed to deliver on their issues. Then there was the Great Recession and the shrinking middle class and that intensified the sense of betrayal. Thus the Tea Party was born.
The sense of betrayal intensified again when the GOP leadership railed against Obama, created a sense of terminal crisis, called on followers to stand up to this huge threat and take back the country, then didn't follow through – even though they had majorities in both the House and Senate.
Fifty years ago a strategy to unite corporate people with segregationists was a deal with the devil.
What now? A sign: This summer the South was mighty quick to condemn and remove the Confederate Flag. And a suggestion: The Democrats should demand the Tea Party explain why their partners intend to cut Medicaid and Social Security to finance billionaire tax cuts.