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Busting the Myth: The Two Major U. S. Political Parties Traded Platforms on Race

Updated on April 7, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Essays in politics & spirituality are part of my writing tool-kit. The challenge of supporting a claim strengthens the mind & imagination.

Lyndon B. Johnson



The Democratic Party of the United States and its sycophants make the claim that the Republican and Democratic Parties simply switched positions on race, after the Republicans had ushered in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This falsehood resulting from revisionist history needs to be laid to rest once and for all.

Although as president, Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, signed the bill in to law, Johnson himself had worked against earlier civil rights legislation. Supposedly, at the time of his signing that bill, Johnson had seen the writing on the wall and understood that the way for Democrats to get and keep power in the future was to placate Blacks, instead of segregating and denigrating them as Democrats had done in the past.

Allegedly, Johnson mouthed the following infamous statement, demonstrating where his loyalties lay: “I'll have those ni**ers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”

In their attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Johnson as a blatant racist, goes only so far as to claim whether Johnson actually made that remark by labeling it "unproven." But then as they continue their screed, they unearth many other suggestions that make it quite apparent where Johnson stood on the race issue. For example, they offer the report that 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 discussion, David Emery the writer of the snopes piece 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 niggers (sic) voting Democratic (sic) for 200 years"; however, he doubts it, of course.

Who Voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Eighty percent of Republicans in the House voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964; only 61 percent of Democrats voted for it. In the Senate, 82 percent of Republicans voted for the bill, while only 69 percent of Democrats did.

The Republican Party was founded primarily to abolish slavery, and yet now we are to believe claims from people like Charlie Rangel that the Republican and Democratic parties "changed sides" in the 1960s on civil rights. This is the facile excuse Democrats make when confronted with their own undeniably racist past. However, the facts do not bare out but rather reveal the myth of the switch.

Three Events Used by Democrats to Indict the GOP for Racism

The switch myth is based on three significant events that have been endlessly spun by Democrats and their minions:

1. Barry Goldwater’s stance on the Civil Right Act of 1964. Goldwater opposed that bill as written because he believed it to be unconstitutional, usurping state and individual rights. Goldwater had been a founding member of Arizona’s NAACP and had voted for earlier civil rights legislation.

2. The Southern Strategy, in which the Republican Party strove to show southern Democrats that by continuing to vote for racist/socialist Democrats they were voting against their interests. Utilizing unsavory political bigots to help win votes for Republicans caused GOP opponents to fabricate the purpose of that political strategy, as primarily racist, when in fact, it was based on economic growth.

3. The eventual turn of the American South from Blue to Red. This claim is easily refuted by the fact that the “Deep South” took 30 years to even begin to change from Democrat to Republican. It was the peripheral South, including Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia, where many working-class transplants from the North and other parts of the country saw that the Republican Party was the party whose policies favored business and commerce and individual success. After all, those transplants had moved south because of their jobs. And racism at that point had begun to recede as a political driving force; although the Democratic Party continued and still continues to use it as a cudgel to beat Republicans.

Democratic Policies Have Kept Blacks in Poverty

The myth of the switch was created for only one purpose: Democratic power. As Reverend Wayne Perryman avers, "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.”

The economist Thomas Sowell has explained that "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 Welfare State Has Devastated African Americans," the "War on Poverty" programs of Lyndon Johnson brought about a condition that has furthered the rise of poverty among black families: by discouraging marriage, these policies have caused out-of-wedlock birthrates to skyrocket "among all demographic groups in the U.S., but most notably African Americans."

The out-of-wedlock birthrate in the 1960s was about 3% for whites and nearly 8% for all Americans, while it was almost 25% for African Americans. However, by the mid 1970s those numbers had climbed to 10% for white, 25% for all Americans, and just over 50% for African Americans. By late 1980s, the birth rate of unmarried African American women was greater than for married black women. Today the out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks is nearly 75%.

Al Gore


Change of Intention

One cannot argue against the fact that racism has been unsystematized since the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s. There are no laws anywhere that call for racial discrimination as there had been with the Jim Crow laws and Black Codes, enforced not only by the law but by the Ku Klux Klan, the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party. It is undeniable that the Democratic Party once fought for these heinous laws that produced an oppressive culture against black citizens. Even today, however, Democrats will claim that there is "systemic" racism, and they, of course, are the only ones willing to fight it.

But the claim that the two parties simply reversed and now it is the Republican Party that upholds racism simply represents a continuing lie and revision of historical facts to support that prevarication.

Citing the voter ID issue as a racist Republican tactic only supports the claims that Republicans are, in fact, not racist. A majority of black voters also support the voter ID laws, yet the Democratic Party continues to rail again those laws, because those laws would cut down on voter fraud—a staple in the machine to elect Democrats to government.

Democrats have been trying to clean up their racist past for decades, often by just fabricating history. For example, while running for the presidency in 2000, Al Gore prevaricated grossly by reporting to the NAACP that his father, Al Gore, Sr., had been denied his senate seat after he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not only did Gore, Sr., vote against that act, he joined the filibuster against it and sponsored an amendment that would basically take enforcement power out of it, in case it passed.

How many Dixiecrats became Republican?

Strom Thurmond


Dixiecrats Became Republicans?

Democrats like to point to the Dixiecrats as an example of racist Democrats who became Republicans.

The fact is that only two Democrats turned Dixiecrat left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party: Senator Strom Thurmond switched to Republican in 1964—not because he continued to embrace racism, but because he repudiated it,.

According to Frances Rice,

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 switched in 1974. Again, like Thurmond, he disavowed his racist past, serving as Virginia governor first as a Democrat and then as a Republican.

Robert Byrd


Thurgood Marshall


Clarence Thomas


Democrat Hypocrisy About Their Racist Past

Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Kleagle and long time Democratic senator from West Virginia Robert Byrd renounced his earlier commitment to segregation and racism.

But still Byrd was the only senator, who voted against confirmation to the Supreme Court of Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Democrat, and who joined 47 other Democratic senators in voting against Justice Clarence Thomas, a Republican.

After Senator Christopher Dodd praised Byrd saying that Byrd would have been "a great senator for any moment," the Democrats reacted with silence.

Yet, when Senator Trent Lott spoke kindly of Senator Strom Thurmond, the Democrats criticized Lott unmercifully—this despite the fact that Thurmond had never been a member of the Ku Klux Klan and Byrd had risen to the position of Grand Kleagle.

Final Comment

It is very unlikely that most Democrats are racists today.

But many use the name-calling of racist and bigot for political expediency against Republicans.

It is undeniable that much of the data support this stance that Democratic policies are harmful not only to blacks but to everyone.

A philosophy based on taking from certain groups to give to others cannot but effect a culture based on victimization, leading the so-called victims from a consciousness of productivity into one of entitlement without productivity.

That the Democrats continue to play the race card demonstrates their utter failure at convincing the plurality that their policies are superior to policies that allow individuals to prosper without government interference and the literal theft of their earnings.

As economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out repeatedly, it is the policies of Democrats that have kept the black population in poverty. The ten poorest cities in the United States have been run by Democrats for decades.

Perhaps it is time that African Americans try a different tact and realize as Rev. Perryman says that the Democratic Party is interested only in their vote not in their welfare.


Marvelous, educational, & entertaining analysis

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes


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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 10 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You put a great deal of effort into this hub, which is a pleasure to see whether I agree with your conclusions or not. Legend has LBJ saying during the civil rights fight, "I've handed the South to the Republicans for the next 100 years." Being a southerner of the 1960s, my observation is that the South went totally red when Roe v Wade legalized abortion. For many, politics became a one issue entity after 1973. The South will go for Trump in this election only because of abortion.

      But there is much in your hub to consider in ways that I never have before. Great work.

    • Maya Shedd Temple profile image

      Linda Sue Grimes 10 months ago from Spring Hill, TN

      Hello, Kathleen Cochran:

      Regarding the "legend" of LBJ mouthing that quip about losing the South to Republican:

      I believe as suggested in my Hub that the South turned red primarily for economic reasons, although social concerns have likely provided some influence. Abortion is always an important issue, but I suspect most people who will vote for Trump are more interested in his policies regarding immigration and homeland security.

      Thanks for the comments and the kind words.

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