Republicanism Is Not What It Used To Be…
You are at some type of social function or maybe just spending some time online discussing political issues. The conservative guy pulls out the “Lincoln Card” and claims that the GOP is the party that freed the slaves…and he would be right. His argument, however, loses steam very quickly when you discuss political party directions following the Civil War and, more distinctly, following WWII.
I bring this up because I find myself in this situation often. I am originally from a very small, very conservative little town where most people vote Republican because “that’s what we’ve always done”. And that is true. Generation after generation has voted that way…not because they believe in what the party stands for, but rather, because that is how their parents and grandparents voted.
I end up trying to use logic and facts and tell them that the Republican party of today is not what it was when they grew up. It is called movement conservatism and it has radically moved the party to the right. The Republicans and Democrats have swapped places. The Republicans, primarily beginning with Nixon and Reagan, have embraced the white bigotry stemming from the South and used it for political gain.
That person will try to tell you that the Republican party is the party of the people…and they would be right – if all people were white.
Robert Parry has a brief but excellent historical narrative that talks about this very topic…
GOP’s Noble Past, Ignoble Present
Exclusive: These days, when anyone notes the recent Republican history of hostility toward blacks and other minorities, a common retort from the Right is to cite civil rights laws that the GOP enacted way in the past. While that may be true, it has no bearing on judging today’s Republicans, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
It’s kind of a waste of time but perhaps we must address a recurring rejoinder from some of the Republican Right’s benighted adherents who make a big deal about the fact that the Republican Party pioneered many important civil rights laws in the century following the Civil War.
This argument is tossed out whenever I or anyone else notes the obvious reality that today’s Republican Party and its allied Tea Party have become the chief bastions of white supremacy and racism in America. The historical rejoinder is meant somehow to obscure this modern reality.
The history is (or should be) well known. But in brief, here it is:
The Democratic Party, its forerunner founded in the early 1800s by Thomas Jefferson and other Southern plantation owners, was the party of slavery, espousing an intense distrust of a strong federal government as a threat to the South’s massive investment in human bondage. More or less, this remained the party’s position leading up to the Civil War. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Rethinking Thomas Jefferson.”]
Though the rival Federalists counted among themselves Virginians George Washington (and initially at least James Madison), their strength came from the North and thus they were less tied to slave interests.
With Jefferson’s remarkable success in building his more agrarian (Southern-based) party, the Federalists gradually disappeared, but some of the same Northern interests remerged with the Whigs and later the Republicans.
Thus, after Republican Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 – and the secession of 11 Southern states – the Democrats lost much of their political clout inside the Union, opening the way for Lincoln to end slavery in 1865. After the South’s surrender and Lincoln’s assassination, the Radical Republicans enacted civil rights laws that were imposed on the defeated South during a period of military occupation known as Reconstruction. Continue reading…