Thursday, November 28, 2013

Republicans, The Party of Civil Rights

From National Review Online:
This magazine has long specialized in debunking pernicious political myths, and Jonah Goldberg has now provided an illuminating catalogue of tyrannical clichés, but 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. Republicans may not be able to make significant inroads among black voters in the coming elections, but they would do well to demolish this myth nonetheless.

Even if the Republicans’ rise in the South had happened suddenly in the 1960s (it didn’t) and even if there were no competing explanation (there is), racism — or, more precisely, white southern resentment over the political successes of the civil-rights movement — would be an implausible explanation for the dissolution of the Democratic bloc in the old Confederacy and the emergence of a Republican stronghold there. That is because those southerners who defected from the Democratic party in the 1960s and thereafter did so to join a Republican party that was far more enlightened on racial issues than were the Democrats of the era, and had been for a century. There is no radical break in the Republicans’ civil-rights history: From abolition to Reconstruction to the anti-lynching laws, from the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, there exists a line that is by no means perfectly straight or unwavering but that nonetheless connects the politics of Lincoln with those of Dwight D. Eisenhower. And from slavery and secession to remorseless opposition to everything from Reconstruction to the anti-lynching laws, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, there exists a similarly identifiable line connecting John Calhoun and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Supporting civil-rights reform was not a radical turnaround for congressional Republicans in 1964, but it was a radical turnaround for Johnson and the Democrats.
You should read the whole thing.


allen (in Michigan) said...

No mention of Richard Byrd.

Well, he did apologize so however much he promoted and benefited from racism simply must be forgiven.

Anonymous said...

Strom Thurmond

maxutils said...

This really shouldn't be a competition. And if you REALLY want to align yourself with the party of civil rights ... try the Libertarians. Of course, most people seem not to want that.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Come on max, this is a two-party country and if you really want the libertarians to become a successful political party you'll take a cue from the Tea Party movement people and do it by running sympathetic candidates in primaries, winning those primaries and then going on to win the election.

I should think a couple of centuries of failure would teach folks the futility, even counterproductive nature, of going the third party route but we are a hardheaded species by comparison to which mules seem eminently sensible and accepting of unpleasant realities. After all, in the old joke, it only took a two-by-four between the eyes to get a mule's attention.

Were it that easy to get the attention of human beings.

maxutils said...

allen ... so, we should run Gary Johnson again? Because he's the epitome of everything you said. .What about John Anderson? The problem is, we ARE a two party system, with anyone else banned from debates, and effectively demolished by funding laws. So, I continue to tilt at windmills ...

allen (in Michigan) said...

I kind of like the two party system.

It's not just that in the parliamentary system the politician is a creature of the party and has to toe the party line or lose office but that the primacy of the party results in constant ferment of here-today-gone-tomorrow special interest parties.

The two party system means the parties can't ever have too narrow a focus and always are trying to divine the voting public's intent. The two party system makes it more difficult for ideologues to maintain their power since ideologues are inevitably one-issue politicians. Yes, there've been ideologues who've adapted to the need for flexibility on issues unrelated to their ideological bent but my experience of ideologues convinces me that's the exception.

The two party system also results in the parties mirroring the intent of the founding fathers with regard to exercise of power. They knew that there was no getting around the necessity to for a government but they sought to deter the inevitable drift toward tyranny by ensuring that the actual exercise of power was impeded at every turn. Too easy access to power was what the founding fathers intended and the two party system mirrors that view.

A change of policy direction isn't easily accomplished nor should it be. It should result from widespread pressure that occurs over a substantial length of time.

That's in the process of occurring which is why Tea Party movement-supported candidates won primaries and won elections. Incumbents may ignore the morally compelling arguments put before them but they can't ignore a newly-seated politician.

So yeah, run Gary Johnson and John Anderson. Run anyone you can convince to throw their hat in the ring. First the local Republicans will decide which primary candidate's got their confidence and then the public will decide the same question.

If enough Tea Party-leaning, or libertarian-leaning, Republicans get elected the Republican party will fall in line because the party exists to get Republicans elected. Those Republicans whose views differ will gradually be shut out because in politics the coin of the realm is getting elected. If you can't manage that the likelihood is that what you have to say isn't as important as you think it is.