Pryor Center to host ‘The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing Voters in the White South Changed American Politics’

Angie Maxwell / Courtesy photo

Angie Maxwell, director of the University of Arkansas Diane Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, will present “The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing Voters in the White South Changed American Politics” at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History on the downtown Fayetteville square.

From the center:

Beginning with Barry Goldwater’s Operation Dixie in 1964, the Republican Party targeted disaffected white voters in the Democratic stronghold of the American South.

To realign these voters with the GOP, the party capitalized on white racial angst that threatened southern white control. However—and this is critical—that decision was but one in a series of decisions the GOP made not just on race, but on feminism and religion as well, in what is called here the “Long Southern Strategy.” In the wake of Second-Wave Feminism, the GOP dropped the Equal Rights Amendment from its platform and promoted traditional gender roles in an effort to appeal to anti-feminist white southerners, and it politicized evangelical fundamentalist Christianity represented by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Over time, that made the party southern, not in terms of place, but in its vision, in its demands, in its rhetoric, and in its spirit. In doing so, it nationalized southern white identity, and that has changed American politics.

Maxwell’s research and commentary have been featured in Slate and on MSNBC‘s “The Reid Report” and “The Cycle.” She is the author of “The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness” which won the V. O. Key Award for best book in southern politics and the C. Hugh Holman Honorable Mention for best book in southern literary criticism. Her new book, “The Long Southern Strategy” will be published in June by Oxford University Press.

The Pryor Center is located at 1 E. Center Street, Suite 120, and parking is available on the Fayetteville square. The event is free and open to the public, and is part of the center’s annual lecture series. The next event is Wednesday, April 10 when Siva Vaidhyanathan will present “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy.”