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Racial Politics

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One of the themes promoted by the Democrats is that the Republicans are a party of racists dedicated to reversing policies promoting equality. The Democratic National Committee web site even went so far to declare, "For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights..." Nothing could be further from the truth. Either the people who put that up are lying or stunningly ignorant of the history of their own party. Excerpted from a conservative web magazine is the following regarding the Democratic party, which:


Supported slavery in 6 platforms from 1840-1860.


Opposed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution that successively wiped out slavery and gave both legal rights and voting rights to black Americans.


Supported segregation actively or by silence in 20 platforms from 1868-1948.


Opposed anti-lynching laws, specifically supported by the GOP in four platforms between 1912 and 1928.


Opposed the GOP-sponsored Civil Rights Acts of 1866, which focused on legal equality for blacks.


Opposed the GOP on giving voting rights to blacks in the District of Columbia in 1867. The legislation was passed over the Democrats' objection.


Nominated an 1868 presidential ticket of New York Governor Horatio Seymour and ex-Missouri Congressman Francis Blair. The Democrats pledged they would declare the Civil Rights laws passed by the GOP "null and void" and would refuse to enforce them. They lost to Ulysses Grant.


Opposed the Enforcement Acts, three laws passed by the GOP between 1870 and 1871 targeting the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and making it a federal crime to block the right of blacks to vote, hold office, serve on juries and have equal protection of the laws with whites.


Opposed the GOP Civil Rights Act of 1875, which prohibited discrimination of blacks in public accommodations.


Used the Ku Klux Klan as what Columbia University historian Eric Foner calls "a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party." Nor is there reference to University of North Carolina historian Allen Trelease's description of the Klan as the "terrorist arm of the Democratic Party." Nor is there mention of the infamous 1924 Democratic Convention -- the "Klanbake" as it is known to history because hundreds of the delegates were Klan members. The Klan-written platform mixed the traditional Democratic message of progressivism and racism in the Klan-written platform.


Repealed the Civil Rights laws enacted by GOP Congresses and presidents, already damaged by the Supreme Court. When Democrats gained control of both Congress and the White House in 1892, the Democrats' President Grover Cleveland signed the repeal on February 8, 1894.



It is also worth noting that the civil rights act of 1964 would not have passed without bi partisan support of the republicans. A higher percentage of republican members of congress voted for this legislation than did democrats.

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Err, sorry to interrupt, but ... facts ...


The full line - which the American Spectator only selectively quoted - is this:


"For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers' rights, and women's rights." - http://www.democrats.org/about/our_history


That's clearly not an all-inclusive statement that should be read as "We have done all these things for the last 200 years"; Social Security hasn't been around for 200 years, for example, and the ideas of health care and women's rights have evolved considerably over that time.



(The factual error I would quibble with would be the "more than 200 years" part. The Democratic Party was founded in the early 1830s, making it only about 180 years old, not more than 200.)

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I've personally known plenty of racists and plenty of people who were opposed to the Civil Rights movement. A billboard less than a mile from my home when I grew up declared that MLK was a communist and later that Earl Warren should be impeached. I've SEEN violence motivated by racial hate up close and personal. That was the environment I grew up in. Back in the late '50s and early '60s, most of those violent, hateful persons were Democrats and a lot of them claimed to vote a 'straight' Democratic ballot. I knew Klansmen who were Democrats. The Republican Party in the South was weak BECAUSE of left over bad feeling with regard to the Civil War and its aftermath.


But the Civil Rights movement and national Democratic support of the various Civil Rights laws along with Republican opposition to those same laws changed all that. Lyndon Johnson was prescient when he declared that the South was going to be lost to the Republicans as a result of Democratic support for civil rights. That shift set the stage for many other similar shifts as well but it basically gave the South to the Republican Party. That shift was finalized in 1980.


When I first became conscious of politics it was fairly common to see ballots on which Democratic candidates were running unopposed. Now the opposite is true. And regardless of other reasons and changes that accompanied the shift, that change was initiated by racial politics. Like I've noted before, I still know persons who are open racists. Not a single one of them claims to be a Democrat.

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Have to agree that just throwing out labels does little for thoughtful debate. I might edit the above to include," Calling your opponent a communist, socialist, racist or a nazi only serves to divert the conversation away from the real issues."


It used to be that if a politician or party was caught in an outright lie or is now called "mispoken" they'd be extremely embarrassed at a minimum. Now it just considered normal politics to out and out just lie about one's own position or policies and that of the opponent.


I've come to the conclusion that:


1. Anything stated in an add put out by a PAC is probably a lie.

2. Anything stated in an add put out by the candidate is probably a lie.

3. Anything stated in a party website is probably a lie.


So what's a voter to do? Compare one party's lies to the other party's lies to make an informed decision?


I don't know what the answer is, but there needs to be a better way to hold campaign statements to the truth. Simply having the media point out that a statement is untrue doesn't work anymore. No one trusts the media either. At what point does calling someone a socialist or racist with no evidence become slander? At what point does leaking untrue myth's about your opponents family life become illegal?


Under the current system wealthy individuals, and PACs and now even major party candidates seem to be able to say anything with absolutely no accountability for truthfulness.





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Look, I don't mind when people are called out for racist behavior - WHEN it's racist behavior.


But, it really ticks me off when the racist label is applied in situations where it just doesn't apply other than that one of the subjects is "racially identified" - (whatever the race) or when the topic may not even have a racial component. It weakens the racist claim when it is used legitimately, and either quashes what should be a legitimate discussion, or shows the weakness of the side that makes the false claim. In either case it becomes a political(accumulation of power)discussion rather than an open discussion(searching for answers) of the topic at hand.


I really wish people would quit dragging race into discussions where it isn't the central issue.

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I'd say the DNC probably should re-word that statement on their web site, regardless of whether it can be explained by the context. Who needs that kind of distraction? The real issue for voters is what the parties and candidates stand for today.


As for shortridge's comment about "more than 200 years," the Democratic Party considers itself to be the same party organized by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the 1790s, even though that party was called the "Republican Party" at the time. The name was later changed to "Democratic Republican" and then to "Democratic" under Andrew Jackson. Or you can look at it that the Democratic Party was one of two parties that evolved out of the original Republican Party in the 1820's/30's, the other one being the "National Republicans" and later the Whigs.

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At what point will the purveyers of hate and shrillness inure the populace? From about the begining when Obama said he would run for the Presidency the Right Wing stood as a group and screamed what a low down racist classist fiend he was and much worse. I think they screamed for so long and so loud, people ignored them. Everything a person does is not grounds for intense scruitiny detailing how this sort of behavior is guaranteed to bring down western civilization.


I was told Obama wanted my guns and the first thing he would do as president is outlaw guns and he would be walking down the street taking away my guns. Well, I still have mine and I have not heard much from him on the topic.


So now the Democrats rip the Republicans for drawing breath. The Repulicans are dirty awful people with no redeeming value at all.


In a year that promises to host a very close election, at what point d they start talking about what the plan is? Not how bad someone else it, but what they plan to do? I have no doubt the registered Democratrs and Republicans will vote their party way. But the best tactic to convince the independed voter is to derise the opponent and not present their own plan?



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"But the best tactic to convince the independed voter is to derise the opponent and not present their own plan? "


Unfortunately yes and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Over the last few election cycles voters have demonstrated that negative campaigns work. As far as presenting plans or ideas go, if you don't present one it can't be criticized.







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The primary rule of political debates is: The first one to use the word "Nazi" or "racist" has lost the debate.


Not that there aren't Nazis or racists. There are. But they are not where the other side is usually pointing.

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"It is also worth noting that the civil rights act of 1964 would not have passed without bi partisan support of the republicans. A higher percentage of republican members of congress voted for this legislation than did democrats"


Let's look at the numbers: This is the vote totals for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.



Southern Democrats: 787 (7%93%)

Southern Republicans: 010 (0%100%)

Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94%6%)

Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85%15%)



Southern Democrats: 120 (5%95%)

Southern Republicans: 01 (0%100%)

Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%2%)

Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84%16%)



It was really a divide along the Mason-Dixon line than along party lines - and though the total by party affiliation may give the GOP the edge in higher percentages, that doesn't tell the whole story. The GOP gets a higher percentage because they had fewer members than the Democrats did. If you look at the raw figures, more Democrats than Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act. If you look at it through the lens of the Mason-Dixon Line, then you still have more Democrats than Republicans voting for the act, and the percentage of Southern Democrats that voted for the Civil Rights act is higher than the percentage of Southern Republicans (it's also interesting that the some Southern Democrats voted for the act and zero Southern Republicans voted for the act) and the percentage of Northern Democrats voting for the act is higher than the percentage of Northern Republicans.


So GOP claims to be the better party on Civil Rights in the 60's can be countered by just as strong claims by the Democratic party - it all depends on how you view the numbers.


Are people to quick to cry racism? Probably, yet I would also say that there is a lot of racialism going on which is being more broadly stroked as racism. We've seen racialism used in politics for a long time - Reagan's "Welfare Queen" is a perfect example. The clamor for Barack Obama's birth certificate is another. But maybe we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the calls that these are examples of racism. Maybe that gives racists the cover they need - the ability to claim they don't mean anything racist by what they're saying.


When Reagan used the term "Welfare Queen", it was common knowledge that he was implying a black woman on food stamps driving a Cadillac. No one thought of a white woman on the dole - but most everyone was jumping to Reagans defense that he wasn't a racist for using that kind of code word, simply because he, and his closest friends said he wasn't a racist. When the birthers all claim they aren't racist, we come to their defense, because, well, racist is such a charged word. But you know what? Maybe we're wrong to dismiss the labeling so quickly. Who but a racist would use a code word like "Welfare Queen"? Who but a racist would demand a black President's birth certificate while never demanding to see a white President's birth certificate.


And maybe "Chicago" is becoming another of those code words for racialism. The use is obviously code to suggest that President Obama is corrupt because he comes from the corrupt City of Chicago. Funny, I had a discussion with someone in Iowa about this very thing this past weekend. He called Obama corrupt because he came from Chicago - and everyone knows that Chicago is the most corrupt city in the US - so therefore Obama must be corrupt. Good old circular logic - with nothing but non sequitors to try to prove it (making the argument even weaker). When I asked for examples of corruption, he started talking about all the shootings in Chicago - but he couldn't tell me why shootings meant Chicago was corrupt - maybe the gang bangers are paying off the cops to look the other way? Nahh - couldn't even come up with that. And he refused to be shaken from the "fact" after being told that Obama was never part of the Chicago machine, the machine actually disliked him (he beat a hand-picked machine candidate for State Senate) and that Daley never really liked him and gave Obama luke-warm support at best until it became obvious he was going to be the candidate.


But may its not racialism - at least not this time - maybe that same meme would be spoken about an old white guy from Chicago running for President - but given the past history, I have to wonder.


We have a Black President - race is going to be a part of it - and what the media is going to report is the negatives, the nutjobs holding pictures of Obama dressed in jungle clothing eating watermelon - and unless we speak out and condemn such things, then we're going to be bombarded with crys of racism for every little thing - and we'll deserve it for not being brave enough to call out the racialists on their garbage.

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