Letter to the Editor: Three-Legged Stool

In 1968, in response to President Johnson’s voting-rights and related social legislation, candidate Nixon announced and pursued his “Southern Policy.” From the conclusion of the Civil War, the South had voted solid Democrat as Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. The Southern strategy, peeling off the racist Democrats from the Democratic Party coalition, became the first leg of what is now a three-legged stool.

In the early 1980s, candidate (and later repeated as president) Reagan added two more legs to the stool. One was his outreach to the Christian community and his claim that the Republican Party was the party of “family values.” He also added the third leg, his oft-repeated assertion that “government is the problem.”

These two became the second and third legs of the modern Republican Party: the belief by a hard core of Christians that the Republican Party has the moral high ground, and the belief by gun-rights, anti-government and autocratic factions that the Republican Party (and in particular, Trump) is on their side.

The problem with this three-legged stool is that each leg is dedicated to its own interests and beliefs, and it will tolerate the other two legs if that is what it takes to get what each respectively wants. Personally, I doubt very much if these three legs truly have anything in common other than their loyalty to the Republican Party.

Is this coalition of three seemingly at-odds groups ever going to break down? Can they continue to pretend that they have a Chinese wall between them and think that they can pursue their own ends with the “support” of the others in the coalition?

Jim Riead

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin