Transcript: Republican "divide and conquer" strategy rant, Aug 25 2006

Starting with Nixon's southern strategy in 1972.

Thom Hartmann's Republican "Divide and Conquer" strategy rant, 25 August 2006

Divide and conquer! That is the absolute strategy of the Republicans and the Bush administration. It has been, well, go back to Nixon. He started with the southern strategy in 1972 saying, "Well, you know, the Democrats pretty much had the corner on racism after the Civil War". The Democrats largely the party of the south after the Civil War and, well, even leading up to the Civil War, arguably. And the Republicans, the party of the union of north and the Democrats right up through the, you could argue, I think frankly quite effectively, at least up until Roosevelt's administration and frankly beyond that on a local and state-wide level, were the party of, of racism in the United States.

And the Democratic Party decided to change that. I mean, you know, that was a very significant, very conscious decision that was made in large part during Jack Kennedy's administration, and his brother Bobby went on to just be a champion for civil rights in the United States. And Lyndon Johnson then carried on with that after Jack Kennedy was assassinated.

And so Nixon said, "Hey, there's a bunch of racists out there. We can pick these guys up. They're voters". And so Nixon came up with his, what, so-called southern strategy and said, "Yeah, let's go for the race vote". And Bill Moyers on this programme, a conversation we had with him a few months ago when I was broadcasting live from the Take Back America conference in Washington, DC, and he sat down with us for a conversation, and my recollection is, he said that he was in the room with Lyndon Johnson when this happened. They brought him the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, I think it was the Civil Rights Act of 1967, sat down and said, one of his advisers said to him, "Mr. President, if you sign this piece of legislation, the Democratic Party will lose the south for a generation".

Now, keep in mind, this was after Nixon had declared that the Republicans were going after the racists in the south, and not just the south. I mean, he called it the southern strategy but basically Nixon, as we know now from the tapes, intentionally decided that the Republican Party would start aggressively reaching out to racists. And this is, you know, Strom Thurmond changed parties, went from being a Democrat to being a Republican and, you know, a number of politicians in fact did as a consequence of that.

And Lyndon Johnson said, you know, "If we lose the south for a generation, that's a price I'm willing to pay to have equality and an egalitarian society in the United States". I mean, those are not his exact words, but words to that, he said, "If that's the price, it's a price I'm willing to pay". Those were his exact words according to Bill Moyers.

Well, it's continuing. And it's not just race. I mean, it's divide and conquer by income, divide and conquer by race, divide and conquer by region, divide and conquer by gender. Well, let's just look at some of this stuff that the Bush administration's up to. Here's a story from the Los Angeles Times Washington Post service by David Savage in today's newspaper1:

"The Bush administration has urged the Supreme Court to strike down voluntary school integration programs", voluntary school integration programs… "Administration lawyers filed briefs this week in pending cases from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., on the side of white parents who are challenging "racial balancing" programs as unconstitutional." They are saying that African American parents being able to choose to send their kids to white schools "amounts to racial discrimination and violate the Constitution's guarantee of the equal protection of the laws." The Law Courts, by the way, ruled in favor of the parents and the voluntary school integration programs. They note, "The Seattle school board adopted integration guidelines for its 10 high schools, beginning with the 1998-99 school year. Officials said they hoped to preserve racial diversity in the schools and prevent segregation in the schools that mirrored the racially segregated housing patterns in the city. In the case of Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle schools, a group of parents sued to challenge the guidelines after their children were denied enrolment in their first choice of a high school because of their race or ethnicity."

In other words, the white schools, what had previously been the white-only schools, they had fewer places for white kids because African American kids were coming into the school. And so now the white kids who are not able to go to the schools are saying, "Hey, wait a minute". That's a tough one. That's a tough one in terms of, "Hey, you know, I'd like to go to the school down the street." And yet, at the same time, are we sanctioning racial division in this country?

I would suggest to you that things in many ways are getting so much worse. And all the rhetoric about illegal immigration, in particular, is feeding the racism, the hysteria, the frenzy around racism in this country. You've got Pat Buchanan out there, you know, pounding the pavement and yet I think he's right about that we have to have integrity, the integrity of our borders has to be real. And I'm not talking a wall or a fence; I think that's a crazy idea. But I am talking about prosecuting employers who hire illegal aliens in order to drive down the cost of labor. That just is a no-brainer to me. But it doesn't have to be framed in a way that has a racial frame around it. And there are so many people out there now who are doing that. So that's, there's that.

And now, here, let's divide and conquer by virtue of wealth. Healthcare debts - this from MSNBC Newsweek - Newsweek Karen Springen writing in Newsweek. "Health hazards"2. The subtitle: "How mounting medical costs are plunging more families into debilitating debt and why insurance doesn't always keep them out of bankruptcy." She writes, "Health-care debts typically play a role in about half of the approximately 1.5 million bankruptcies filed in the United States each year … 75 percent of those who declare medical bankruptcy have health insurance at the onset of the illness that failed to prevent them from being pushed over the financial edge". The health insurance failed to prevent them from being pushed over the edge. Why? Well, she says, "many families are shouldering more of their health-care costs than ever before." As Henry Sommer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, said, "The copays and deductibles are becoming so big that even if you have insurance, you can still have a lot of medical debt." How much debt? " One fifth of working-age adults, both insured and uninsured." That's one out of every five working age Americans currently has medical debt that they are paying off over time. "And three of five adults with medical bills or debt problems said they were insured at the time the debt was incurred."

So, not only are the health insurance companies getting more and more profitable; the second largest health insurance company in the United States last year paid their CEO one and a half billion dollars in compensation. I mean, these companies are incredibly rich, but they're also screwing the middle class. I mean, there's no other way to say it.

And as I pointed out in the last hour you go back and you read the writings of some of the neoconservatives, from the sixties and seventies and they were looking at social unrest -what they perceived as social unrest - students speaking out against the war in Vietnam, women wanting equal rights in the workplace, African Americans demanding equal, an end to discrimination and equal access to schools and institutions. And they said, "Oh, this is a society in meltdown, this is the end of the American culture. We can't have this. If this is what happens when you have a middle class, when you have students who know that they can get into college for free pretty much anywhere very, very cheap? We can't allow that, we've got to terrify them. We've got to make them work so hard that they don't have time to be out protesting." I mean, they literally looked at it like that and said, you know, "Having a middle class, these people have too much free time, they have too much money. Two weeks of vacation a year? Oh, you can forget about that. They might show up at a protest."

In Newsweek she points out, Americans are taking out home-equity lines of credit for medical expenses. The solution? Universal health care, of course. Medicare for all just make the Medicare program fine for everybody.

In the meantime, the Republicans who brought us the Republican great depression are now, according to Market Watch3,, Rex Nutting writing for Market Watch, gonna be bringing us the Republican great recession. Here, this from, you can read it over there: " The United States is headed for a recession that will be 'much nastier, deeper and more protracted' than the 2001 recession, says Nouriel Roubini, president of Roubini Global Economics. Writing on his blog Wednesday, Roubini repeated his call that the U.S. would be in recession in 2007, arguing that the collapse of housing would bring down the rest of the economy. He said, 'This is the biggest housing slump in the last four or five decades: every housing indicator is in free fall, including now housing prices.' And the impact of the bursting of the bubble", they write over at, "will affect every household in America, not just the few people who owned significant shares in technology companies during the dot-com boom. Prices are falling even in the Midwest, which never experienced a bubble, "a scary signal" of how much pain the drop in household wealth could cause. " Why? Because people have been borrowing from their homes to maintain their lifestyle during the first 5 years of the George W Bush great recession.

1 Bush Administration Opposes Integration Plans, David Savage.

2 Health Hazards: How mounting medical costs are plunging more families into debilitating debt and why insurance doesn't always keep them out of bankruptcy., Karen Springen.

3 Recession will be nasty and deep, economist says, Rex Nutting.

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