The Republican Party's infamous "Southern Strategy" is dying out, and that's a good thing.

The re-election of Barack Obama as president with a multiracial coalition from all sections of the country is evidence that the appeal to race is finally becoming a losing hand.

Richard Nixon was the first to implement the Southern Strategy.

The idea was to get whites to vote Republican by appealing to their racial impulses. Lyndon Johnson had predicted that the traditionally Democratic South would go Republican after he signed the Voting Rights Act, and that's what happened.

George Wallace, the arch-segregationist from Alabama, was key to the strategy's birth. Wallace, who ran for president in 1968 on a third-party ticket, gathered 13 percent of the vote. But Nixon was still able to win half the Southern states, while Wallace won the other half (except Texas). In 1972, Nixon won the entire South.

Over the years, the Southern Strategy evolved.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan announced that he was running for president in Philadelphia, Miss., the same city where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964 during Freedom Summer. Reagan spoke about states' rights in his speech. The racial message was obvious.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush surged ahead of Michael Dukakis by using the notorious Willie Horton ad. The campaign spot played to white fears by using the release of a black man on parole from prison.

In April 2010, then-Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, an African-American, acknowledged that the party had pursued the Southern Strategy for 40 years.

In this latest presidential election, the strategy was present again.

During the GOP primaries, candidate Newt Gingrich rarely passed up an opportunity to refer to Obama as the "food stamp" president. Mitt Romney even managed to sneak in two references to food stamps during one of the presidential debates -- actually, the one on foreign policy.

In August at a campaign rally, Romney joked to an audience there that "no one ever asked me for my birth certificate." That was a crass reference to the unfounded controversy surrounding Obama's birthplace.

John Sununu, an adviser to the Romney campaign, commented that Obama needed to "learn how to be an American."

In the end, the country rejected these low appeals, just as the vast majority of Americans are rejecting the new secessionists who have surfaced after the election.

These are tremendously positive signs for the United States. Now, almost 150 years since the end of the Civil War, we are at last putting the stain of race behind us.

Brian Gilmore is a poet and public interest lawyer. He can be reached at

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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