Williamson accuses Democrats of duping African-American voters in 1964 and afterwards into voting for them, presumably via all those federal benefits (including the right to eat in a restaurant alongside white folks) that Democrats used to imprison black folks on a new “plantation” of dependency. It’s an insulting argument, but hardly uncommon among conservatives (see Rand Paul’s recent “outreach” speeches at black colleges). But what Williamson doesn’t deal with is why all those southern racists who voted Democratic up to and in most cases beyond the New Deal moved en masse into the Republican column, for the first time ever, in 1964. At a time (prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965) when black voters were rare in Mississippi, Goldwater won 87% of the vote in that state. He won 69% in Alabama, where Johnson (the hero of segregationists according to Williamson) was not even allowed on the ballot. In general, Goldwater’s vote was directly correlated to the size and intensity of southern segregationist sentiment (and to black disenfranchisement), and within each state directly tracked the old Dixiecrat enclaves of 1948.
So to buy Williamson’s hypothesis, you have to believe that not only were African-American voters universally duped (94% voted for Johnson), but so, too, were southern white racists. In other words, the vast majority of the voters most focused on civil rights fundamentally misunderstood what the two parties and their presidential candidates stood for on this issue—but Kevin Williamson sees through it all!