Thanks to Sheldon Sturges, who found this article, How Racism Caused the Shutdown, by Zack Beauchamp in ThinkProgress.org. The article quotes Kevin Kruse, a historian at Princeton University and author of White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. As here:
Kevin Kruse, a Princeton historian whose work focuses on the South and the conservative movement, finds deep roots in segregationist thought for this turn. “In their own minds, segregationists were instead fighting for rights of their own,” Kruse suggests. These “rights” included “the ‘right’ to select their neighbors, their employees, and their children’s classmates, the ‘right’ to do as they pleased with their private property and personal businesses, and, perhaps, most important, the ‘right’ to remain free from what they saw as dangerous encroachments by the federal government.”
Kruse traces this language through white resistance to desegregation from the 40s through the 60s, using a detailed examination of “white flight” in Atlanta as a synecdoche. In the end, he finds, “the struggle over segregation thoroughly reshaped southern conservatism…segregationist resistance inspired the creation of new conservative causes, such as tuition vouchers, the tax revolt, and the privatization of public services.” The concomitant rise of the modern conservative movement and the civil rights movements’ victories conspired to make Southern whites into economic, and not just racial, conservatives.
Kruse’s theory isn’t based on mere anecdote. M. V. Hood, III, Quentin Kidd, and Irwin L. Morris’ book The Rational Southerner arrays a battery of statistical evidence correlating Southern whites’ Republican turn with black voter mobilization. The more politically active blacks became, their data suggest, the more whites flocked to conservative Republicans as a counter.
As we post this, the Senate is voting to reverse the shutdown, but the damage — and the prejudices — remain.