Wednesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the increasing explicitness with which tea party Republicans are embracing the Confederacy-era South as their cultural touchstone.
Maddow began the segment by discussing the conservative women’s group the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) and their 2010 conference in Charleston, SC, in which attendees were promised “A Southern Experience” by the South Carolina branch of the organization.
“And boy did they mean that!” said Maddow. “They meant a very specific kind of ‘Southern Experience.’”
She then showed photos of the event, which featured white attendees dressed in Confederate regalia and African-American people dressed as slaves. The individual dressed as a Confederate officer in the image is South Carolina’s now-Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell, who in 2010 was still just a state senator.
In South Carolina, it is apparently good for your political career to be seen doing Civil War reenactments, complete with slaves.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), shortly after being sworn in, elected to celebrate Confederate History Month. Unlike past governors, however, he did not mention or make any note of the issue of slavery.
“After a while, after a national kerfuffle,” said Maddow, “McConnell did finally get embarrassed and went back to the commemoration statement and added a reference to slavery.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R), she said, hung on in the face of his own neo-Confederate scandal until he was forced to ask one of his advisers to resign. Senate aide Jack Hunter left the Paul office after it came to light that he was a right-wing radio shock jock called “The Southern Avenger.” In his radio persona, Hunter railed against immigrants and people of color and insisted that the South should have won the Civil War.
“Right now we are at a moment in Republican politics of deep turmoil,” Maddow said. “And in one specific part of the Republican Party, the turmoil’s not what it is for the rest of the country.”
In the far-right wing of the Republican Party, right now, the main problem with the shutdown of the federal government was that it ended, said Maddow. Those people believe the Republican Party didn’t fight hard enough to keep poor people from getting health coverage.
One of the people they are targeting is Sen. Thad Cochran, a rock-ribbed conservative who has sinned against the far right by voting to reopen the government. The tea party in Mississippi has found a challenger for Cochran in the form of neo-Confederate candidate state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
“It is an interesting question,” Maddow said, “whether being associated with the Confederacy — not just with the South, but with southern, white secession — it’s an interesting question whether being associated with that hurts individual elected officials.”
Another question, she said, is whether this pro-white, arch conservative movement that we call the tea party is a new thing, or rather a new name for the same old angry racists who have always lurked at the base of the GOP.
Watch the video, embedded below via MSNBC: