This superb article by Gerald Alexander (from the reliably good Claremont Review of Books) provides good information to dispel the myth that the Republican Party was able to become the majority party in the South by becoming “racist.” I never bought that, and this article provides excellent, fact-based details. It is written in a careful, analytical, empirical style similar to that of Michael Barone.
The clincher paragraph:
In sum, the GOP’s Southern electorate was not rural, nativist, less educated, afraid of change, or concentrated in the most stagnant parts of the Deep South. It was disproportionately suburban, middle-class, educated, younger, non-native-Southern, and concentrated in the growth-points that were, so to speak, the least “Southern” parts of the South. This is a very strange way to reincarnate George Wallace’s movement.
The bottom line is this: One more historical “fact” which “everyone” “knows” is “true,” that the GOP is a party which inherited the mantle of Jim Crow, and should be ashamed of itself, is no more than another lie in the hegemonic mountain of lies which is modern liberalism.
(I’d put in a hat tip, if I could remember where I saw this … .)