My longtime friend Chris Matthews was at Ford’s Theater in Washington recently. He appears to have maligned his own Catholic Church by saying that many of the new converts to Catholicism are motivated by anti-gay bigotry. But he went further, alleging that conservatives alone have a “Southern Strategy.”
Chris is struggling with the truth. He is determined to jam his size 11 foot into the glass slipper of liberal orthodoxy. And it just won’t fit.
The term “Southern Strategy” was invented by liberals in 1968 to attack their partisan opponents in the Republican Party, then led by Richard Nixon. Many leaders in the South had indeed resisted de-segregation in the 1960s, some going so far as to suggest “massive resistance” to court-ordered equal accommodations for black and white Southerners.
Every one of those segregationists was a Democrat. George Wallace, Bull Connor, Lester Maddox. Democrats every one.
Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt were elected by appealing to a united South. No one called any of these Democratic presidents racists because they appealed to Southern voters. No one calls them racists now.
But somehow for liberals like Chris, appealing to voters in the South becomes racist, becomes a wicked Southern Strategy when Republicans do it, and do it successfully.
The simple fact is that Southerners — both black and white — are very religious, socially conservative and willing to express their deeply held convictions at the ballot box.
That’s why marriage initiatives have won overwhelmingly in every Southern state except North Carolina. And this May’s marriage initiative in that state has good prospects of winning.
The majority of the pro-marriage demonstrators who turned out recently in Annapolis, Maryland were black and Hispanic voters, led by courageous pastors and priests. State lawmakers who addressed the throng deplored the comments by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s wife, Judge Katie O’Malley, who called them all “cowards.”
Yelling “racist” and “bigot” and charging cowardice are the only stratagems left to liberals who cannot win on the merits of their arguments. They dismiss defense of marriage and pro-life measures as “wedge issues.” In fact, they are bridge issues, since they form a bridge between races, religions and ethnic groups.
Those liberals who press to overturn marriage laws resort to name-calling and character assassination. All the while they hypocritically wrap themselves in the mantle of civility.
To my friend Chris and others who would overturn laws that protect true marriage, I suggest this: Stop hating and start debating.
In the past decade, the supreme courts of Washington State, New York and Maryland — three very liberal states — came down on the side of true marriage. Each court said that the raising of children was a compelling state interest. Each court — of course — is being radically transformed by liberal governors to facilitate their assault on the family.
In Maryland, Attorney General Doug Gansler openly avows this as his governor’s strategy.
We who defend true marriage are equally committed to civil rights. We strongly believe that marriage is a civil right — and that overturning true marriage will cause grave harm to all Americans, not the least to the poor and to minorities. Charles Murray’s new book, “Coming Apart,” shows how the breakdown of marriage hurts working-class whites. We already know how it has hurt black and Hispanic Americans. If we care about equal opportunity and what Lincoln called “the right to rise,” we should reject Chris Matthews’ scurrilous charges and support true marriage.
Ken Blackwell is a visiting professor with Liberty University School of Law and senior fellow with the Family Research Council. He is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.