Monday, August 4, 2014

Slate Magazine: Jamelle Bouie: 'John Fund's Distorted History of the Democratic Party'

Source:Slate Magazine- Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat, Texas) 36th President of the United States (1963-69)

Source:The New Democrat

"Writing at National Review, conservative journalist John Fund promises to “set the record straight on Jim Crow.” And what does he offer? A column’s worth of warmed-over partisan pablum that begins and ends with the idea that, as far as civil rights are concerned, Democrats are the real racists. Some choice passages:

Even as the nation celebrates the passage of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, some liberals are using the occasion to bash Republicans as inheriting the legacy of Jim Crow—ignoring the fact that a higher percentage of Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats. …
[T]he political enforcement of Jim Crow was entirely in Democratic hands. The Ku Klux Klan functioned as the paramilitary wing of the Democratic party, and it was used to drive Republicans out of the South after the Civil War. Before he took up the cause of civil rights as president, Lyndon Johnson acting as Senate majority leader blocked the GOP’s 1956 civil-rights bill, and gutted Eisenhower’s 1957 Civil Rights Act. Democratic senators filibustered the GOP’s 1960 Civil Rights Act. 

First, an observation: It would be nice if Fund had reckoned with National Review’s early defense of segregation, including William F. Buckley’s assertion that “the cultural superiority of White over Negro” is a “fact that obtrudes” and that “National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. … It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.” But to borrow from Donald Rumsfeld, you engage with the pundits you have, not the ones you want.

In any case, none of this is inaccurate. As Geoffrey Kabaservice shows in Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party, Republicans were a driving force behind the civil rights bills of the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras, and supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act at a much higher rate than Democrats in either chamber of Congress. What’s more, Democrats were the political beneficiaries of Jim Crow governance, dominating federal elections on the strength of a Solid South. And Fund is right: The defenders of Jim Crow—from Woodrow Wilson to Theodore Bilbo—were Democratic politicians. 

The problem with Fund’s argument is that he takes these facts, divorces them from historical context, and spins them into an unconvincing indictment of the modern Democratic Party and a disingenuous exoneration of its conservative counterpart.

The simple fact is that, despite surface similarities, the Republican and Democratic parties of midcentury were vastly different beasts than their contemporary counterparts. Unlike the ideologically coherent parties of today (i.e., most Democrats are liberals and most Republicans are conservatives), the Republicans and Democrats of the immediate postwar period were heterodox coalitions of interest and historical circumstance. Liberal Northeastern Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and William Scranton shared influence and power with “stalwarts” like Gerald Ford and Everett Dirksen and hard-right conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Joe McCarthy. And on the other end, New Deal liberals in the mid-Atlantic and industrial Midwest were yoked to a huge faction of Southern segregationists.

It’s not too reductionist to say that civil rights—and more broadly, the Civil War and Reconstruction—were responsible for the general outline of this alignment. Even as the parties expanded westward in the 19th century, Republicans remained the party of the Union (and thus black Americans) and Democrats maintained their allegiance to the South." 

"Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, the landmark Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination and segregation regardless of race or color. It was originally introduced in congress by President John F. Kennedy before he was assassinated in 1963. 

Among those present at the signing were:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy 
Sen. Everett Dirksen
Sen. Hubert Humphrey
F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover" 

Source:Major Kong- Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat, Texas) 36th President of the United States (1963-69_

From Major Kong

I mostly agree with what Jamelle Bouie here. I would just say that hyper-partisan Republicans today (regardless of what their political ideology actually is) like to blame people they call Liberals and the Democratic Party, for Jim Crow and say that's it's the Republican Party that ended Jim Crow and passed the civil rights laws. 

But the fact is, Far-Right Republicans would like to see those civil rights laws overturned today and go back to the way it is (so to speak) pre-1960s civil rights movement and the laws that were passed thanks to that movement. So are they Liberals today because they don't support the civil rights laws? Of course not. But they sort of suggest that they might think they are with their dishonest arguments about the civil rights laws. 

Today, the Democratic Party is primarily the center-left, progressive party in America, with a center-right New Democrat coalition in it (that I'm part of) and a left-wing that the Jamelle Bouie's of the world are part of, America's version of the Social Democrats or Euro Democrats. 

And the Republican Party is now home to people who were Dixiecrats in the 1960s, people like Strom Thurmond and many others in Congress back then, who were Democrats, until the passage of the civil rights laws. And the Republican Party has a center-right, classical conservative faction it as well today, people like Senator Jeff Flake, Senator Mike Lee, and other classical conservative Republicans in Congress today. 

But in the 1960s and go back 100 years earlier, the Republican Party was the party of progress. Or at the very least where you were more likely to find Progressives in it, even though it's always had a center-right, conservative faction in it. 

And the Democratic Party was the home of the Neo-Confederates, people who knew they lost the Civil War, but thought they would win the cultural war of the time by forcing African-Americans, as well as other racial and ethnic minorities, and women of all backgrounds, to live as second-class Americans under law.

Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat
Liberal Democracy