Originally the "Southern Strategy" was adopted by Richard Nixon to motivate the solidly Democrat states in the South to switch to the Republican party. This proved politically successful, but at great cost to the moral integrity of the party. In the 1980s Lee Atwater, working for Ronald Reagan attempted, with moderate success to push the party back to a more principled conservatism. Since that time, the Southern Strategy has been more useful to the Left, in both the political and media professions, as a way to keep blacks from voting Republican. The Republican party, and conservatives in general, have deplored this situation, but have generally conceded the battle as a lost cause.
If conservatism is ever going to reclaim its rightful moral high ground, we are going to have to permanently reject the short-term, unprincipled, and frankly desperate appeal to our constiuent's baser instincts and do so publicly and unambiguously. This makes many conservatives uncomfortable because it sounds like political correctness and/or tokenism. But we need to remember that the battle for public opinion is often fought at a low level of intellectual substance. Symbolism matters and if we try to make this a fight of substance versus symbolism, we will lose every time. Instead we need to find examples of substance that also have the correct symbolism.
Case in point: the recent appointment of Tim Scott to represent South Carolina, replacing the invaluable Jim Demint in the Senate. Front Page Magazine has a good introductory article:
Scott’s public record and ability to attract support from across racial lines paints a picture of Scott as one whose political career was built upon steering clear of, and rejecting, racial stereotypes or identification. His election, as well as the success of other Republican politicos such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, reflects a Republican Party which is beginning to move back towards the multi-racial identity it held after the Civil War, leaving the post-Civil Rights “Southern Strategy” Nixon era behind.