An audio recording has surfaced of the 1981 interview with Lee Atwater, a Republican campaign strategist, advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H.W.
Bush, Chairman of the RNC, and disciple of Roger Ailes (Fox News)
It has become, for liberals and leftists enraged by the way Republicans never suffer the consequences for turning electoral politics into a
cesspool, a kind of smoking gun. The late, legendarily brutal campaign consultant Lee Atwater explains how Republicans can win the vote of racists
without sounding racist themselves...
Here is the quote from Lee Atwater:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, 'n-word', 'n-word'.” By 1968 you can’t say “'n-word'”—that hurts you, backfires. So you
say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes,
and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want
to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, 'n-word'.”
The 'Southern Strategy' was a political strategy undertaken by the GOP in the aftermath of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where many southern whites felt betrayed by the Democrats for it's passage (L.B. Johnson was a strong advocate for it).
They abandoned the Democratic party in favor of the Republican party which began a campaign of appealing to racism without overtly appearing
Lee Atwater's quote above explains it all. This is the first time the audio recording of the quote has ever been released. This has been the GOP
strategy in the south since 1968. When looking at the terms used in reference to Obama or Democrats in the 2012 campaign, one can still see the
'Southern Strategy' in play. Birtherism ("he's really from Kenya"), or Obama's a Marxist/Communist ("he's not one of us"), or how teacher's
unions are denigrated (why so much focus was put on Chicago teacher's unions), or how the GOP and RW media attack anything related to welfare
recipients as "Obama's kind".
"Conservative" media has long denied Atwater ever made such a quote. They have vilified the interviewer (Alexander Lamis) for decades. The entire
interview (40 minutes) is now available in the audio recording, and can not only confirm the quote attributed to Atwater is accurate, but that the
entire interview was conducted in a scholarly manner.
In a February 1991 article for Life magazine, Atwater wrote:
My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.
The '80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can
acquire all you want and still feel empty.
What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends?
It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral
decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of
American society, this tumor of the soul.
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