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The Big Lie: The Republican and Democratic Parties Switched Sides on Race

Expository essays in literature, politics, philosophy, and science issues allow space for affirming one's stance on issues, old and new.

President Abraham Lincoln - the Great Emancipator

President Abraham Lincoln - the Great Emancipator

Introduction: Debunking a Pernicious Myth

One of the biggest of the "big lies" that have been wide-spread throughout history is that in the United States, the two major political parties, Democratic and Republican, switched sides on the issue of race. In Dan O’Donnell’s "The Myth of the Republican-Democrat ‘Switch'," the writer offers a useful introduction to the issue:

When faced with the sobering reality that Democrats supported slavery, started the Civil War when the abolitionist Republican Party won the Presidency, established the Ku Klux Klan to brutalize newly freed slaves and keep them from voting, opposed the Civil Rights Movement, modern-day liberals reflexively perpetuate the rather pernicious myth—that the racist southern Democrats of the 1950s and 1960s became Republicans, leading to the so-called "switch" of the parties. This is as ridiculous as it is easily debunked.

Revising History

Because the Republican Party was founded to abolish slavery and has always been the party of Civil Rights—including the struggle for women’s suffrage—in the U.S.A, the Democratic Party seized the issue, turning racism into a Republican problem by claiming that the parties switched sides of race.

The big lie of the parties switching sides on race, however, is not the only falsehood that litters the political landscape. Various factions have filled historical reportage with inaccurate claims that persist; for example, a 2015 Washington Post headline blares, "We used to count black Americans as 3/5 of a person."

Political ideologues and agenda-driven academics often claim that in establishing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers thought that blacks were only three/fifths human because of the ⅗ compromise; however, the "Three/Fifths Compromise" focused on representation to congress not on the humanity of each person.

Even Condoleezza Rice, an educated, accomplished former secretary of state, fell for this lie: "In the original U.S. Constitution, I was only three-fifths of a person." Such a misstatement by a sophisticated and knowledgeable person just shows how widespread and deep some errors have been carved into the culture.

Then there is the false assertion that "Nazis" are right wing. The term "Nazi" is short for National Socialist German Worker Party, translation from the German, "Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei." The political right has never endorsed "socialism." Along with "fascism," the term by definition includes statism or government control of the lives of citizens—the antithesis of the political right’s stance.

Mark Levin "Democrat 'Party Switch' Myth Debunked"

Confronting an Inconvenient Past

When confronted with inconvenient history of their party regarding the issue of race, the American Democratic Party members and its sycophants insist that the Republican and Democratic Parties simply switched positions on race, after the Republicans had ushered in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This ludicrous claim can easily be laid to rest with a few pertinent facts.

On January 1, 1863, Republican President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which stated "that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free." The country had already been suffering two years of a bloody Civi War to end slavery. Democrats had been lobbying for and passing legislation such as the Jim Crow laws and Black Codes for over a century—all designed to keep the black population from enjoying the fruits of citizenship.

President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, signed the civil right bill in to law; however, Johnson himself had labored tirelessly against earlier civil rights legislation. By signing that bill, Johnson merely demonstrated that he had come to understand that the way for Democrats to acquire and maintain power in future was to pacify and humor blacks, instead of denigrating them and segregating them from whites as the Democrats had always done in the past.

Allegedly, Johnson had quipped, "I'll have those ni**ers voting Democrat for the next 200 years." That infamous statement clearly reveals where Johnson's loyalties lay: with acquiring power for the Democratic Party and not for recognizing African Americans as citizens. Endeavoring to deconstruct Johnson's racist position, David Emery at snopes.com labels the claim regarding Johnson's remark "unproven." But then as he continues his biased analysis, Emery reveals other suggestions that make it clear that Johnson's beliefs rendered him the consummate racist. For example, Emery offers the report, in which according to Doris Kearns Godwin, Johnson quipped:

These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.

After much bloviating, David Emery admits, "Circling back to the quote with which we started, it wouldn't have been entirely out of character for LBJ to have said something like, 'I'll have those ni**ers voting Democratic (sic) for 200 years'"; however, Emery doubts it, of course.

House and Senate Vote Tally for the Civil Rights Act 1964

The following is a breakdown of the voting tally in the House and Senate for the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

Democrats: House 153 out of 244 = 63%
Republicans: House 136 out of 171 = 80%
Democrats: Senate 46 out of 67 = 69%
Republicans: Senate 27 out of 33 = 82%

While 80% of the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only 63% of the Democrats voted aye. Also while in the Senate, 82% percent of Republicans voted for the bill, only 69% of Democrats did.

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Attempting to Rehabilitate by Geography

In order to try to rehabilitate the Democrats' negative voting record on civil rights, Democrat apologists point out that when one accounts for geographical positioning of the members of the house and senate, the voting tallies this way:

The original House version:

Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7%–93%)
Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0%–100%)
Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94%–6%)
Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)

The Senate version:

Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5%–95%) (Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted yea)
Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0%–100%) (John Tower of Texas voted nay)
Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98%–2%) (Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted nay)
Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84%–16%)

This set of votes shows that no southern senate Republicans voted for the act, but there was only one southern Republican in the senate at the time. And also no house Republican voted for the act, but again there were only ten southern Republicans in the house. This low number of Republicans in the house and senate when converted to percentages skews the reality of the fact that the overall vote, which is the vote that counts, clearly outs the Democrats as opposers of the act.

And the Democrats' main reason for voting against the act was based on race, especially in the south; however, all of the Republican senators, both north and south, who voted against the act, did so because they favored Senator Barry Goldwater's position, who remained against the act, not because of racial animus but because of his belief that it was unconstitutional in usurping states' rights, especially in the area of private business.

The Republican Party was founded, primarily in order to abolish slavery. Yet over a century later, modern-day Democrats such as former house member, Charlie Rangel, are spreading the big lie that the Republican and Democratic parties simply "changed sides" in the 1960s on civil rights issues. That excuse is widely exercised by Democrats when confronted with their own undeniably racist past. However, the facts do not support but rather reveal that claim as a big lie.

Three Misrepresented Issues

The persistent inaccuracy that the two parties switched sides is partially based on three significant issues that have been misrepresented by Democrats and their sycophants in the liberal media:

1. Barry Goldwater’s position regarding the Civil Right Act of 1964. Goldwater did oppose that bill in its final form because he argued that it was unconstitutional, in that it usurped state and individual rights. Goldwater had helped found Arizona’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and he had voted for earlier versions of civil rights legislation. Thus, Goldwater's opposition was not similar to the Democrats' opposition based on racism; Goldwater's opposition was based on his interpretation of the Constitution.

2. The Southern Strategy. With this strategy, the Republican Party was attempting to demonstrate to southern Democrats that by continuing to vote for racist/socialist Democrats they were voting against their own economic interests. What gave Democrats the opening to use this strategy against Republicans was that the Republicans utilized racist political bigots, who were, in fact, Democrats themselves, to help win votes for Republicans. This strategy prompted the GOP opponents to misrepresent the Republican's purpose and thus label it primarily racist, when it was, in fact, based on economic growth, not racism.

3. The American South turning to Red from Blue. This claim falls apart with the fact that the "Deep South"—Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana—took 30 years to begin changing from Democrat to Republican. It was only in the peripheral South—Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas—that many working-class transplants, relocating from the northern states as well as from other parts of the United States, understood that the Republican Party offered policies that promoted business, commerce, and entrepreneurial success. Those transplants, after all, had relocated south to improve their financial status through their new jobs. Gerard Alexander explains in his review, "The Myth of the Racist Republicans: The Truth About the Southern Strategy":

The myth that links the GOP with racism leads us to expect that the GOP should have advanced first and most strongly where and when the politics of white solidarity were most intense. The GOP should have entrenched itself first among Deep South whites and only later in the Periphery. The GOP should have appealed at least as much, if not more, therefore, to the less educated, working-class whites who were not its natural voters elsewhere in the country but who were George Wallace's base.

If the myth of the switched sides were accurate, Republican Party would have taken hold more strongly first among the traditional racists—that is, the older voters would have become Republicans before the younger ones and the transplants. But did not happen, because the Republican Party attracted those who were "upwardly mobile" and "non-union."

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, racism in the country's history had begun to wane as a social and political force. But the Democratic Party continued to foment unrest between the races in order to employ racism as an issue against their opponents in the Republican Party. In 2020, under the Democratic administration of Joe Biden, the racial unrest began to escalate further with the ideas touted by proponents of Critical Race Theory and the insistence that white supremacy remained the country’s greatest threat.

Poverty Producing Policies

The main reason that the Democratic Party concocted the idea that the parties simply switched positions was to gain power. Reverend Wayne Perryman explains:

Many believed the Democrats had a change of heart and fell in love with blacks. To the contrary, history reveals the Democrats didn’t fall in love with black folks, they fell in love with the black vote knowing this would be their ticket into the White House.

Economist Thomas Sowell has also shed light on the subject: "some of the most devastating policies, in terms of their actual effects on black people, have come from liberal Democrats." Sowell emphasizes that the "minimum wage laws" everywhere they have been established have a "track record of increasing unemployment, especially among the young, the less skilled and minorities."

According to "How the Liberal Welfare State Destroyed Black America," the "War on Poverty," the programs established by the Johnson administration, brought about conditions, which furthered the rise of poverty among black families. By discouraging marriage, these policies have resulted in out-of-wedlock birthrates that have skyrocketed, "among all demographic groups in the U.S., but most notably African Americans."

The U.S. out-of-wedlock birthrate in the 1960s hovered around 3% for whites and close to 8% for all Americans; that rate was around 25% for blacks. But, by the mid 1970s, those rates had increased to 10% for whites, 25% for all Americans, and over 50% for blacks. Then by late 1980s, the birth-rate of unmarried black women had become greater than for married black women. In 2013, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks had climbed to almost 75%. The Census Bureau maintains that poverty is closely associated with out-of-wedlock births.

By formulating a system that keeps blacks at a disadvantage, the Democrats have a captive audience to which they pander for votes. The Democratic Party stations itself as the protector of blacks and other minorities, not with policies that assist those demographics but with policies that keep them dependent on government.

Unfair Race Policies Unsystematized

Despite the revisionist history and unsupportable claims of the CRT and white supremacy advocates, there is no argument that can refute the fact that racism as an issue of public policy has been unsystematized since the passage of the civil rights acts of the 1960s. No more Jim Crow laws or Black Codes anywhere call for racial discrimination as they had before the passage of those civil right laws.

Before the passage of those acts, not only did racist laws exist, they were enforced by legal authorities as well as the Ku Klux Klan, which, according the North Carolina historian, Allen W. Trelease in his book, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction, "The Klan became in effect a terrorist arm of the Democratic Party." And Eric Foner, Columbia University historian, in his study, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863–1877, has averred that the KKK was "a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party."

Still, leftist historians such as Carole Emberton, an associate professor of history at the University at Buffalo, continue to employ the "party lines of the 1860s/1870s are not the party lines of today" bromide to attempt to separate the Democratic Party's engagement from the Ku Klux Klan, in the same breath as admitting, "that various 'Klans' that sprung up around the South acted as a 'strong arm' for many local Democratic politicians during Reconstruction."

Democrats continue to employ the often debunked claim that racism is still a "systemic" problem. They offer this prevarication so they can insist that only the Democratic Party is willing to fight against that "systemic" blight on society. But again and again, the Democratic Party's policies have been used, as Lyndon Johnson used them, to placate blacks by making them think they are getting something that no political party even has the power to give: financial security and equality with guaranteed outcomes.

Political parties, when in power, can help the voting public only by instituting policies that encourage financial success and individual freedom. They cannot guarantee that success. They cannot legislate individual success through identity politics.

Strategy to Gain Power

The Democratic Party and its allies continue to employ the big lie that the two parties exchanged positions on race, in an attempt to gain power and to rehabilitate the party's racist past. Party members and its minions continue to tie most issues to race because that tactic seems to have worked for gaining power. But when voters look at the basic facts, that claim begins to lose its strength.

For example, citing the voter ID issue as a racist Republican strategy simply bolsters the evidence that Republicans are, in fact, not racist. A majority of black citizens and voters are in favor of the voter ID laws. However, the Democrats continue to rail against voter ID laws because they know that those laws would impede voter fraud—a staple in the machine to elect Democrats to government.

Democrats have been attempting to whitewash their racist past for decades; to do so, they often fabricate history. For example, as a candidate for the presidency in 2000, Al Gore falsely stated to the NAACP that his father, Al Gore, Sr., had lost his senate seat because he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But Gore, Sr., voted against that act, as he supported and joined in the filibuster against that act. Gore, Sr. then sponsored an amendment that would take the teeth out of the enforcement power of that bill, just in case it passed.

Did Dixiecrats Become Republicans?

Democrats also point to the rise of the Dixiecrats that supposedly shows racist Democrats becoming Republicans. However, only two Democrats-turned-Dixiecrat left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party: Senator Strom Thurmond traded in his party alliance with the Democrats to join the Republicans in 1964—not because he continued to support racism, but because he began repudiating it. Frances Rice explains: "Thurmond was never in the Ku Klux Klan and, after he became a Republican, Thurmond defended blacks against lynching and the discriminatory poll taxes imposed on blacks by Democrats."

Governor Mills E. Godwin, Jr. of Virginia abandoned the Democrats for the Republican Party in 1974. But again, like Thurmond, Godwin abandoned his racist past and served as Virginia governor first while a Democrat and then as a Republican.

Hypocrisy about Racist Past

West Virginia's Robert Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops and long serving Democratic senator, did renounce his earlier support for segregation and racism; however, Byrd was the only senator to vote against confirmation to the Supreme Court of Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Democrat. Byrd also joined 47 of his fellow Democratic senators as he voted against Justice Clarence Thomas, a Republican. Neither a black Democrat nor a black Republican could pass muster with the former Klansman.

Senator Christopher Dodd praised Byrd highly by stating that Byrd would have been "a great senator for any moment." To this potentially inflammatory remark, the Democrats remained silent. Then later after Senator Trent Lott spoke kind words of Senator Strom Thurmond, the Democrats with their usual hypocrisy lambasted Lott unmercifully. It made no difference that Thurmond had never served as a member of the Ku Klux Klan while Byrd had risen to the high position of Exalted Cyclops.

Regarding Democrat hypocrisy, Alex Knepper has remarked: ". . . being a Democrat means that you can promote segregation, join the KKK, vote against both black Supreme Court nominees, and use the word "ni**er" on national television — and still be remembered as a promoter of black interests." The Democratic Party has raised hypocrisy to an art form in its pursuit of power.

Policies Harmful to Everyone

No doubt, the majority of the members of the Democratic Party are not racists today. Yet, it remains unconscionable that so many Democrats label Republicans racist and bigot in pursuit of political power against their opponents. Democrats cannot legitimately deny the many studies that offer support to the argument proffered by Republicans that Democratic policies are detrimental not only to black citizens but to all citizens.

The current theoretical philosophy of Democratic Party consists of seizing through taxation the financial rewards from "the rich" and giving those rewards to "the poor." In practice, this Robin Hood scam ultimately means taking from those who earn and redistributing it to friends and allies of the redistributors. Such a system cannot possibly succeed. It can only create victims whose ability to produce becomes atrophied by the false promises of pandering politicians.

Democrats continue to play the race card because they have become utter failures at convincing the majority of the electorate that their policies work. Citizens have become dissatisfied with the actual theft of their earnings, as they have watched while decade upon decade has demonstrated that their shabby, crime filled cities are, in fact, the result of Democrat policy fecklessness and fraud.

Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution Thomas Sowell has pointed out repeatedly that the policies of Democrats have prevented the black population from rising out of poverty. Many of the poorest cities in the USA have been run by Democrats for decades. According to Investor's Business Daily,

When Democrats are in control, cities tend to go soft on crime, reward cronies with public funds, establish hostile business environments, heavily tax the most productive citizens and set up fat pensions for their union friends. Simply put, theirs is a Blue State blueprint for disaster.

Surely, it is time that African Americans adopt a different mind-set and realize, as Rev. Perryman avers, that the Democratic Party is interested only in their vote, not in their welfare. As Donald Trump asked as a candidate during his 2016 presidential campaign, "What do you have to lose?"

Sources

© 2021 Linda Sue Grimes

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