As a child of the bus wars, Slate’s new series of articles on the late Civil Rights Movement rings painfully true. Once the Civil Rights campaign progressed beyond equal access and voting rights, it began to take on a harder tone, wavering between condescending elitism and vengefulness. The headlong rush to build a utopian post-racial order required cracking a few eggs. The brunt of the impact was felt by working class whites, both North and South, who lacked the money or political clout to escape the devastating consequences of liberal ambitions.
Whether the old Dixiecrats would shift en masse and intact from the Democratic Party to the GOP was still an open question in the early 70’s. Heavy-handed measures pushed by national Democrats that destroyed local districts finished the job. Forced busing, more than any other measure, finished the story. It gave the old racial coalition a legitimate plank on which to build its continued existence. Along the way it reminded the public at large of the danger of liberal social engineering and the advantages of more organic change promoted by traditional conservatives.
Here’s the Slate series.
Here’s an old GOPLifer piece on the bus wars in Beaumont.
And an excellent book covering the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on working class whites.