Every time we have one of these debates republicans like to remind us that they are the "party of Lincoln" and that it was the democrats who were the party of the Southern racists and the KKK.
They have to do this, of course, because of the makeup of the modern day republican party and the perceptions that follow it.
I am so tired of repeating this particular part of history that I am going to allow Charles Blow to do it while responding to a racist who just happens to be a republican.
"Last week, the economist and former Richard Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein went on Fox News and delivered a racial tirade completely detached from the anchor’s line of questioning.
When asked by the anchor about a Fox News poll showing the economy was the No.1 issue for voters, and how that poll result might work for or against Democrats in the midterms, Stein skirted the question altogether and instead spewed an extraordinary string of psychobabble about how “what the White House is trying to do is racialize all politics” by telling lies to African-Americans about how Republican policies would hurt them. He continued: “This president is the most racist president there has ever been in America. He is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.”
Pat Buchanan, the two-time Republican presidential candidate, assistant to Richard Nixon and White House director of communications for Ronald Reagan, wrote a column this week accusing Democratic strategists of “pushing us to an America where the G.O.P. is predominantly white and the Democratic Party, especially in Dixie, is dominated by persons of color” in their last-minute get-out-the-vote appeals to African-Americans, by invoking Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Jim Crow.
This glosses over a hundred years of history that will be tucked quietly away into some attic of amnesia.
Let’s review how we got to this point where African-Americans vote so overwhelmingly Democratic and are suspicious of Republican motives.
As NPR reported in July, “If you’d walked into a gathering of older black folks 100 years ago, you’d have found that most of them would have been Republican” because it was the “party of Lincoln. Party of the Emancipation. Party that pushed not only black votes but black politicians during that post-bellum period known as Reconstruction.”
As Buchanan, writing in American Conservative, pointed out, “The Democratic Party was the party of slavery, secession and segregation, of ‘Pitchfork Ben’ Tillman and the K.K.K. ‘Bull’ Connor, who turned the dogs loose on black demonstrators in Birmingham, was the Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama.”
But allegiances flipped.
The first wave of defections by African-Americans from Republican to Democrat came with Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal in the 1930s. According to the Roosevelt Institute: “As Mary McLeod Bethune once noted, the Roosevelt era represented ‘the first time in their history’ that African-Americans felt that they could communicate their grievances to their government with the ‘expectancy of sympathetic understanding and interpretation.'”
By the mid 1930s, most blacks were voting Democratic, although a sizable percentage remained Republican. Then came the signing of the Civil Rights Act by the Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson — although he wasn’t perfect on the issue of race, and the bill passed partly because of Republican support.
In response to the bill, Barry Goldwater waged a disastrous campaign built in part on his opposition. As NPR put it: “Goldwater can be seen as the godfather (or maybe the midwife) of the current Tea Party. He wanted the federal government out of the states’ business. He believed the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional — although he said that once it had been enacted into law, it would be obeyed. But states, he said, should implement the law in their own time.” Whites were reassured by the message, but blacks were shaken by it.
Richard Nixon, for whom both Stein and Buchanan would work, helped to seal the deal. Nixon had got nearly a third of the African-American vote in his unsuccessful 1960 bid for the White House, but when he ran and won in 1968 he received only 15 percent. In 1972, he was re-elected with just 13 percent of the black vote. That was in part because the Republican brand was already tarnished among blacks and in part because the Nixon campaign used the “Southern strategy” to try to capitalize on racist white flight from the Democratic Party as more blacks moved into it.
As Nixon’s political strategist Kevin Phillips told The New York Times Magazine in 1970: “The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans.”
That’s right: Republicans wanted the Democrats’ “Negrophobes.”
The history of party affiliations is obviously littered with racial issues. But now, there is considerable quarreling and consternation about the degree to which racial bias is still a party trait or motivating political factor for support of or opposition to particular politicians or policies.
To get more directly at the issue of racism in political parties, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight Politics looked at “a variety of questions on racial attitudes in the General Social Survey” and specifically at “the numbers for white Democrats and white Republicans.”
This wasn’t a perfect or complete measure of racial bias, but more a measure of flagrant bias — the opinions of people aware of their biases and willing to confess them on a survey.
That said, they found that:
“So there’s a partisan gap, although not as large of one as some political commentators might assert. There are white racists in both parties. By most questions, they represent a minority of white voters in both parties. They probably represent a slightly larger minority of white Republicans than white Democrats.”
Still, the question is how much of this muck at the bottom of both barrels sullies what’s on top? The best measure many find for this is in the rhetoric and policies of party leaders.
The growing share of the Democratic Party composed of historically marginalized populations — minorities, women, Jews, L.G.B.T.-identified persons — pushes the party toward more inclusive language and stances.
The Republican Party, on the other hand, doesn’t have that benefit. They can’t seem to stop the slow drip of offensive remarks, like those of the Republican governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, who referred to the president’s policies last week as “tar babies” or the obsessive-compulsive need to culturally diagnose and condemn black people, like Stein’s saying this week that “the real problem with race in America is a very, very beaten-down, pathetic, self-defeating black underclass.”
At that rate, Republicans will never attract more minorities, try as they may to skip over portions of the racial past or deny the fullness of the racial present. [Source]
Yes, so once again, we get the history lesson. And , once again, we understand that both political parties played racial ping pong with the black vote and for black support.
But now here we are in 2014, and it is people like Ben Stein who are demonizing black people and people like the entire FOX VIEWS crowd who are declaring that we are the racists in America.
It is no wonder then that the black vote (at least for the foreseeable future) will continue to be very lopsided in favor of the donkey.
Pic from homebrewedtheology.com