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Unexamined Premises

History Lesson: Racist Democrats and the Big Lie

March 28th, 2013 - 5:07 pm

The way we were

In order to escape their truly wretched past (click on the link for my short book on the subject), modern Democrats have adopted as an article of faith the bedtime story that, thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the racists who had been the backbone of their party for the better part of a century suddenly switched to the GOP en masse some time around 1968with the happy result that now all the racists are on the right. Presto — instant virtuousness and a clean slate!

It’s a lie, of course. But don’t take it from me, take it from my National Review colleague Kevin Williamson, who addressed this issue brilliantly last year:

Worse than the myth and the cliché is the outright lie, the utter fabrication with malice aforethought, and my nominee for the worst of them is the popular but indefensible belief that the two major U.S. political parties somehow “switched places” vis-à-vis protecting the rights of black Americans, a development believed to be roughly concurrent with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the rise of Richard Nixon. That Republicans have let Democrats get away with this mountebankery is a symptom of their political fecklessness, and in letting them get away with it the GOP has allowed itself to be cut off rhetorically from a pantheon of Republican political heroes, from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to Susan B. Anthony, who represent an expression of conservative ideals as true and relevant today as it was in the 19th century. Perhaps even worse, the Democrats have been allowed to rhetorically bury their Bull Connors, their longstanding affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, and their pitiless opposition to practically every major piece of civil-rights legislation for a century. 

As Kevin goes on to point out:

If the parties had in some meaningful way flipped on civil rights, one would expect that to show up in the electoral results in the years following the Democrats’ 1964 about-face on the issue. Nothing of the sort happened: Of the 21 Democratic senators who opposed the 1964 act, only one would ever change parties. Nor did the segregationist constituencies that elected these Democrats throw them out in favor of Republicans: The remaining 20 continued to be elected as Democrats or were replaced by Democrats. It was, on average, nearly a quarter of a century before those seats went Republican. If southern rednecks ditched the Democrats because of a civil-rights law passed in 1964, it is strange that they waited until the late 1980s and early 1990s to do so.

And yet this myth persists — in fact, it’s just about the only response today’s Democrats have to their own sordid history: pinning it on the other guy. It makes them profoundly uncomfortable that among the 21 who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can be found Albert Arnold Gore, Sr., the founder of the Hillbilly Dynasty; Robert “KKK” Byrd, the Conscience of the Senate; and Sleepin’ Sam Ervin of Watergate fame.

Just for laughs, let’s take a look at the electoral maps for 1968 (Nixon-Humphrey), 1972 (Nixon-McGovern), 1976 (Carter-Ford), and 1992 (Clinton-Bush) to see how the South voted.

First, 1968, as the Vietnam War approached its high-water mark and the antiwar movement was starting to roll:

1968: still semi-solid

Nixon picked up some of the states of the Old Confederacy, largely because of their pro-military tradition and support for the war. “Wallace,” for those of you born yesterday, was Democrat George Wallace, a rabid segregationist who founded the American Independent Party and ran for president on its ticket. He won 13 percent of the popular vote, and carried five states in the Deep South for a total of 46 electoral votes.

Four years later, Nixon faced the first modern Democratic Party presidential candidate, George McGovern, who ran on a “Come Home, America” platform, and on whose campaign many of today’s radicals cut their teeth. Two items of note in the linked video clip: Missouri Senator Tom Eagleton was McGovern’s first running mate, who got dumped by the Compassion Party after it came out that he had been hospitalized for clinical depression and had undergone shock therapy. The other is McGovern’s extensive quote from “This Land is Your Land,” a hit for Peter, Paul and Mary written by the communist fellow-traveler, Woody Guthrie.

1972: the Cod stands alone

Yes, the South voted for the Republican — but so did every other state except for Massachusetts, which was the first indication of just how far gone the Bay State already was.

Four years later, Nixon was in San Clemente in the aftermath of Watergate, and a Southern governor named Jimmy Carter, whose only claim to the White House was that he was not RMN, was running against the Accidental President, Jerry Ford:

1976: you can go home again

Yes, twelve years after the Solid South supposedly flipped to the GOP, here it was, back again, helping to elevate a native son past the Michigander. The two Reagan wipeouts of 1980 and 1984 began the alignment of the South with the GOP — but it was partly reversed by Bill Clinton in 1992:

1992: Back to Bubba

Kevin concludes:

The Republican ascendancy in Dixie is associated with the rise of the southern middle class, the increasingly trenchant conservative critique of Communism and the welfare state, the Vietnam controversy and the rise of the counterculture, law-and-order concerns rooted in the urban chaos that ran rampant from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, and the incorporation of the radical Left into the Democratic party. Individual events, especially the freak show that was the 1968 Democratic convention, helped solidify conservatives’ affiliation with the Republican party. Democrats might argue that some of these concerns — especially welfare and crime — are “dog whistles” or “code” for race and racism, but this criticism is shallow in light of the evidence and the real saliency of those issues among U.S. voters of all backgrounds and both parties for decades. Indeed, Democrats who argue that the best policies for black Americans are those that are soft on crime and generous with welfare are engaged in much the same sort of cynical racial calculation President Johnson was practicing when he informed skeptical southern governors that his plan for the Great Society was “to have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.” Johnson’s crude racism is, happily, largely a relic of the past, but his strategy endures.

So the next time a Regressive tries to repeat the Thurmond myth, show him the maps — and make the Democrats own their history. They don’t like it very much, and who can blame them?

Also read: 

Don Young, and the Democrats’ Homer Simpson Problem

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Because I enjoy stuff like pulling the wings off flies and poking lefty punks with pointy sticks. They're accustomed to having a monopoly on sneering insults; I like to sneer and insult them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the wonderful summary. Also relevant is that despite often being referred to as "Southern conservatives," the Democrats who supported segregation largely represented a different type of conservatism from the free-market, classical liberal variety of Republicans. Having been a solid part of FDR's New Deal coalition, most were pro-union economic populists, not supporters of capitalism. But since the word "conservative" is used to describe them, it is assumed this conservatism is the same as, say, Reaganism.

Also, there's a logical flaw in the whole racists-went-to-the-GOP narrative, which is: THe GOP platform didn't change from before Civil Rights to after Civil Rights. It always stood for what it stood for, so there was no change in ideology that allegedly drew in the racists. Some of the most conservative people in the GOP helped pass the CRA, including Everett Dirksen. This is the point at which liberals resort to another rhetorical trick: that Dirksen et. al. were from the "moderate" wing of the party.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A basic tenant of the antebellum pro-slavery argument was that blacks were like children. Children need to be provided for, and supervised. Funny how some things never change with Democrats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (43)
All Comments   (43)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
The south did not care whether Blacks were desegregated/de-jim crowed or allowed to vote as much as they hated Washington D. C. Yankees interfering with States rights.
Southerners generally do not as a rule really consider the south a part of the United States. Just as Georgian's don't see Atlanta as the leader of the state politics.
I've seen all three political parties and I ain't a bit impressed with any of them, career politicians and lobbyist who care about their own little agenda's as opposed to what the constituents want.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I left the democrat party because I was tired of Clinton being soft on Islamic attacks of US forces and the fact that Al Gore gave me the impression he was nothing but a slippery con man out to make a buck off the backs of the poor.
John Kerry? I served in The South East Asian land war known as Vietnam I wouldn't vote for John Kerry unless it's to colonize Mars. Then I'd help him win and ship him into orbit around Mars.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Then how do you explain the photograph MSNBC's Chris Matthews showed on Hardball of the book of racial codes the Republicans have been using since the Reagan era? http://www.thedailyrash.com/chris-matthews-unveils-photograph-of-republican-racial-code-book
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you're stupid enough to believe something like that, it is no wonder the Country has gone to Hell in a handbasket. Ignorant child, do you believe anything you hear on TV? The shame of it is that you probably can and do vote.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's the key part you miss.
1) The old Racist Democrats thought that blacks were inferior, and thus it was ok to have gov't laws against them, to help the whites.
2) The new Racist Democrats think that blacks are inferior, and this is why the racists support Affirmative Action to help the inferior race.
2b) BUT, rather than be honest about the inferiority reason, they blame prior white racism as the reason to support Affirmative Racism.

Republicans have always been against racist laws, against racist laws that help whites, and now against racist laws that "help" blacks.

The results in Detroit make it debatable if Affirmative Racist welfare policies really help blacks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Walsh: While I agree w/what you say, and can easily see how you trace the history of which you've given us a taste, I'm interested in more in-depth info. So I thought -- perhaps I'd buy what you yourself call your "short" book? So I went to Amazon to purchase it. Sir, I am not in the habit of paying 10 cents per page. Even my fav. authors, both fiction & non-fiction, do not demand this kind of remuneration! Even Thomas Sowell's newest book is 3 1/2 cents per pg. You regard yourself WAY to highly in this digital age. That you were with "Time" for quite a ... um, time, does not make this even slightly palatable. (in fact, in light of what "Time" is now, it makes it downright disgusting). If you wish to make ANYthing on this book, PLEASE reprice it downward, at least on Amazon. Thank you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're complaining about 7 bucks for a book - because it's short?

Books aren't priced by the page - there's some fixed cost in publishing a book, regardless of its length.

Check it out of the library or wait until you can pick it up used.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't set the price, the publisher does.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Civil War And The Litmus Test - "Will you shoot Americans?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNuiLJHejKM&feature=player_embedded
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the wonderful summary. Also relevant is that despite often being referred to as "Southern conservatives," the Democrats who supported segregation largely represented a different type of conservatism from the free-market, classical liberal variety of Republicans. Having been a solid part of FDR's New Deal coalition, most were pro-union economic populists, not supporters of capitalism. But since the word "conservative" is used to describe them, it is assumed this conservatism is the same as, say, Reaganism.

Also, there's a logical flaw in the whole racists-went-to-the-GOP narrative, which is: THe GOP platform didn't change from before Civil Rights to after Civil Rights. It always stood for what it stood for, so there was no change in ideology that allegedly drew in the racists. Some of the most conservative people in the GOP helped pass the CRA, including Everett Dirksen. This is the point at which liberals resort to another rhetorical trick: that Dirksen et. al. were from the "moderate" wing of the party.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The only thing "conservative" about The South is its resistance to change and emphasis on preserving history and tradition, including religious tradition. Neither of those is really reflective of political philosophy. Since the Civil War the salient characteristics of The South were that it was poor, isolated, and xenophobic and that white supremacy was ingested in the air you breathed and the segregated water fountain you drank from.

There was nothing conservative about the antebellum state governments or the Provisional Government of the Confederate States; they were not reticent to use government's taxation and police powers to achieve state ends. State governments built railroads and canals extensively before the Civil War. During the war, the PGCS had elaborate social welfare and capital construction programs, e.g., the salt programs, the niter program, and the Augusta, GA gunpowder plant, and while the PGCS was not as heavy-handed as the US Government was in the border states, the government and the armies' police powers were heavily used.

After the war, race and cheap labor were the driving forces. There was an attempt at a Southern populism, it is easy for farmers to hate bankers, merchants, and manufacturers, see, e.g., Georgia's Tom Watson, but attempts to rally the poor farmers or the poor textile workers allways fell victim to racial politics. Anytime the workers at a mill wanted better wages and conditions, all the management had to do was threaten to bring in black labor. Anytime there was talk of raising property taxes for better schools, nobody wanted to pay taxes that the blacks wouldn't pay or to do anything that would benefit them. Separate but equal was anything but equal; I remember the Black school in my home town. To this day many of those states rely on sales taxes and user fees heavily because the large landowners don't want to pay property taxes and as I've had said to me many times by people I know in politics in Georgia that at least the blacks, but they don't say blacks if they know you, will have to pay sales tax.

Everybody I knew voted for Goldwater in 1964 and it wasn't because we'd suddenly become enamored with Western Libertarianism. The South and Southerners didn't have a racial epiphany in the mid-'60s, they had de-segregation forced down their throats by federal authority. Yes, there is an easiness in personal relations between the races in The South, at least the rural South, that doesn't exist elsewhere in the Nation nor really even in the large Southern cities, though many would argue that any city big enough to have a professional sports team isn't really Southern anyway. But Southern Blacks and Whites have lived side by side and worked together, at least in the fields, for centuries. You would drink out of the same water bucket and gourd dipper as the black hands in the field, but you wouldn't let them in your front door or let them use your rest room. From what I see when I visit my Georgia relatives, the public South is far more integrated than most of the rest of the Country. The private South is more segregated than it was in the days of Jim Crow.

I think Zell Miller had it about right; Southerners didn't leave the Democrats, the Democrats left them. Today's Democrats are not the Party of FDR, or even Kennedy and LBJ. They were becoming what they have become by Carter but by Southern standards, Carter was a traditional Southern liberal. In The South of those days "liberal" and "educated beyond high school" were pretty much synonyms. Southerners because of their distrust for state solutions and that is really a distrust for anything big, not just government, and because of their resistance to change and adherence to tradition simply could not go into the "small c" communist world of the Democrat Party from Clinton on. They went to the Republicans because they had nowhere else to go and as current controversies inside they Republican Party indicate, they aren't real comfortable with the Republlicans either.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am glad to see someone standing up and proclaiming the truth, and calling the democrats out! Now, what took so long?


Democrats See "people of color" as "Useful Idiots"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UObEdF_uhaw

Revealing the Truth about the Democratic Party Part 2: The Parties Switched

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3LqPedoxSk


Rare Live Footage of one of the first anti rascism songs ever


Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
LOL. The above picture is the one I've been using as my twitter avatar for months.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm not fond of anecdotal evidence but I have some that applies to this conversation. I have worked with many people over the years and, living in the Northeast and because of the types of jobs I've had, most of my co-workers were Democrats. I can't count the number of times I heard offensive, repulsive casually racist remarks from white Democrats. The insulting comments were even more disgusting because they were always said in a way that implied these slurs upon the character of an entire race of people were just conventional wisdom.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Indeed, I have anecdotal evidence of my own. When we moved to the South 17 years ago we were amazed that blacks and whites here seemed to have an easy, comfortable relationship with one another. Both sides treated each other with respect EVEN WHILE remaining within their own racial groups. Folks up North look as segregated churches and conclude that racism is still alive and well in the South but I think that is only because birds of a feather flock together. Both sides just leave each other alone essentially.
Contrast that with New York, where my husband grew up. He says growing up, a white kid never got caught in the "wrong neighborhood" and violent conflict between the races was a daily occurance. Blacks aren't friendly in the North like they are in the South. We have black friends who say the same about whites.
So there really is a lot that doesn't meet the smell test.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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