At least since 1965, the Republican Party has cultivated, sometimes overtly, mostly covertly, the garden from which the sentiments about the “Negro” expressed by Cliven Bundy grow. It believes that a significant portion of its electoral base is emotionally engaged with these sentiments and that it would be wise to avoid causing this base any offense. I’ve wondered if there would actually be any risk to the Republican Party if it were to more actively censure elected officials who dance with the devil of racial resentment. Is the Republicans’ “southern strategy” still necessary in 2014? Does the Party still fear that a George Wallace will emerge to steal away votes from it during the 2016 Presidential election?
It is not impossible for the Republican Party to compete with Democrats on the basis of the promotion its small government, free enterprise, and individual liberty credo without embracing anti-black or anti-latino statements. The Republican Party could malign the Democrats as Big Government Big Spenders, as hostile to business and individual freedom, all without having to disparage racial and ethnic minorities.
However, it could be the case that the scenario I imagine for Republican resistance to racist temptations is hopelessly rosy. The problem may be more deeply rooted in Republican “ideology.” From this point of view, the Republican Party made a fatal faustian bargain when it sought the votes of disgruntled southern segregationists (in the wake of 1968). Since then, its electoral fortunes depend on the affirmation of the residual racial animus of that region, from the segment of its population that longs for the south to rise again to its former Confederate glory.