Paul Krugman thinks he knows a reason or two why it has happened - apart from appeals to African-Americans to join the GOP:
There was a time when Republicans used to refer to themselves, proudly, as “the party of Lincoln.” But you don’t hear that line much these days. Why?
The main answer, presumably, lies in the G.O.P.’s decision, long ago, to seek votes from Southerners angered by the end of legal segregation. With the old Confederacy now the heart of the Republican base, boasting about the party’s Civil War-era legacy is no longer advisable.
But sooner or later, Republicans were bound to notice other reasons to disavow Lincoln. He was, after all, the first president to institute an income tax. And he was also the first president to issue a paper currency — the “greenback” — that wasn’t backed by gold or silver.
There are also some MODERN secessionist folks that are bound to present some problems for Repubs THESE DAYS.
Mr. DiLorenzo hasn’t actually written much about monetary policy, although he has described Fed policy — not just recently, but since the 1960s — as “legalized counterfeiting operations.” His main claim to fame, instead, is as a critic of Lincoln — he’s the author of “Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe” — and as a modern-day secessionist.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/opinion/11krugman.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
No, really: calls for secession run through many of Mr. DiLorenzo’s writings — for example, in his declaration that “healthcare freedom” won’t be restored until “some states begin seceding from the new American fascialistic state.” Raise the rebel flag!
O.K., it’s going to be a while before the G.O.P. as a whole embraces neo-secessionism, and Mr. Paul, although highly visible, is, in fact, a somewhat marginal figure even within his own party.