Summary of "From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich"

by Brian Gabriel

"From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich" looks at American racial politics.

Mark Hirsch/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In his 1999 book "From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution 1963-1994," Dan Carter looks at the issue of race in presidential politics. Starting with George Wallace's political ascendancy in 1963, he examines the counterrevolutionary response to the civil rights movement and the subsequent transformation of American conservative politics. The book is divided into four sections: Politics of Anger, Politics of Accommodation, Politics of Symbols and Politics of Righteousness.

Politics of Anger

George Wallace became governor of Alabama in 1963. He gained national recognition for his inaugural speech in which he drew attention to the issue of states' rights and race. In his speech, Wallace warned that "the international racism of the liberals seek to persecute the international white minority to the whim of the international colored majority." In a misguided and infamous plea to draw attention to states' rights, he thundered the line, "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" Wallace reached out to millions of alienated and angry American voters who would later go by many names: the silent majority, white backlash and the alienated voters.

Politics of Accomodation

After Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he knew he had to do something about the racial polarization in America. Nixon practiced the politics of accommodation on the issue by borrowing heavily and directly from the neoconservative Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Upon reading the latest study on the plight of the black family stuck on welfare programs, Moynihan said the nation could "not afford the luxury of having a large lower class that is at once deviant and dependent." Moynihan advised Nixon to help poor black families by continuing to give them welfare money, but to bypass the bureaucracy of the system. Nixon responded in August 1969 with the Family Assistance Plan (FAP), which saved on costs, according to Nixon, by sending the money through an automated payment process like Social Security.

Politics of Symbols

The Politics of Symbols section looks at the disconnect between the symbols of election campaigns and actual policy decisions. The advertising of politics requires a certain carelessness with the truth and the facts, according to Carter. He points out the political races in which the symbols of race were used to persuade frightened voters. Alabama Republican Gov. Guy Hunt, for instance, won his reelection after linking his opponent to various black leaders.

Politics of Righteousness

Racial issues were a major cause of the gender voting gap, according to Carter. In 1980, white males favored Reagan three to two, whereas a majority of white women supported Democratic candidates. The Democrats, most notably Bill Clinton, set the political goal of recruiting some of these white male voters. One of Clinton's recruitment tactics was to support the death penalty as governor after it was reinstituted in Arkansas.

About the Author

Brian Gabriel has been a writer and blogger since 2009, contributing to various online publications. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from Whitworth University.

Photo Credits

  • Mark Hirsch/Getty Images News/Getty Images