By Frances Rice
Democrats who say they don’t care about civil rights history do so because they want to hide the Democratic Party’s racist past. Hypocritically, these same Democrats are quick to falsely accuse Republicans of being racist, while pontificating about why black Americans vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party—a party whose failed socialist policies have turned black communities into economic and social wastelands.
Surveys show that black Americans think conservative, but vote liberal because they have been barraged for over 40 years with falsehoods about the Republican Party by the Democrats who have hijacked the civil rights record of the Republican Party and taken blacks down the path of Socialism.
The time is long overdue for the curtain of deceit to be lifted and the ugly truth told about the Democratic Party’s horrendous history of racism and anti-black socialist policies that have caused so much harm to black Americans.
The Democratic Party’s Failed Socialism
The deplorable condition in black neighborhoods that have been run by Democrats for the past 40 years is well documented by black Democrat Juan Williams in his book entitled Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America. Democrats have the audacity to blame Republicans for the crisis in black neighborhoods created by the Democrats and the temerity to claim that it is Republicans who have done nothing for blacks.
In fact, Republicans have done a great deal to help black Americans, including appointing more blacks to high-level positions than at any time in our nation’s history. Record money has been spent on education, job training and health care, as well as assistance with becoming home and small business owners. Since the 1960’s, over $7 trillion has been spent on poverty programs. The Washington Post reported that as of 2006, the federal government had in place over 80 poverty-related programs costing $500 billion annually.
Here in Florida, Governor Charlie Crist has been a leader in the civil rights movement. He achieved passage of the Dr. Marvin Davies Florida Civil Rights Act to stop discrimination. He accomplished the restoration of civil rights for ex-offenders. He also signed a budget that provides $24.4 billion for education that prepares graduates for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.
Money is not the issue. The socialist policies of the Democratic Party are at the root of the pathos in black communities. To their eternal shame, Democrats fight every effort of Republicans to help blacks get out of poverty. Democrats oppose school choice opportunity scholarships that would help black parents get their children out of failing schools. Democrats oppose the faith-based initiative that would help black ministers provide social services to the poor. Democrats oppose reform of Social Security even though blacks on average lose $10,000 in the system because blacks on average have a five-year shorter life expectancy.
Despite these policies that run counter to the best interest of black people, black Americans keep voting for Democrats because every election cycle Democrats preach hatred against Republicans and get blacks to cast a protest vote against Republicans and not a vote for Democrats. Deliberately, Democrats keep black poor, angry and voting for Democrats. Any black person who becomes self-reliant and prosperous is denigrated as a “sellout.” With this reprehensible strategy, Democrats have built their power base on the backs of poor blacks. Democrat Demagogues get away with this tactic because Democrats have hidden their racist past and sold Socialism to blacks, a system that sounds good but has proven to be devastating to black communities.
Knowledge is power. In addition to exposing the failed Socialism of the Democrats, a key step to helping to free blacks from the Democratic Party’s economic plantation is to shed the light of truth on the racist past of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party’s Racist Past
As author Michael Scheurer succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is the party of the four S's: Slavery, Secession, Segregation and now Socialism.
Facts about racism in the Democratic Party can be found in books such as A Short History of Reconstruction by Dr. Eric Foner and Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past by Bruce Bartlett. Two other books are Unfounded Loyalty and Unveiling the Whole Truth by Rev. Wayne Perryman. Rev. Perryman wrote his books after conducting five years of research. He then sued the Democratic Party for that party’s 200-year history of racism. Under oath in court, the Democrats admitted their racist past, but refused to apologize because they know that they can take the black vote for granted.
History shows that Democrats fought to expand slavery while Republicans fought to end it. From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks. Republicans fought to free blacks from slavery and amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th Amendment) and the right to vote (15th Amendment). Republicans also passed the civil rights laws of the 1860's, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867 that was designed to establish a new government system in the Democrat-controlled South, one that was fair to blacks.
It was Democrats who started the Ku Klux Klan that became the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party to lynch and terrorize Republicans-black and white. Democrats passed those discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws and fought every piece of civil rights legislation from the 1860’s to the 1960’s. Shamefully, Democrats fought against anti-lynching laws, and when the Democrats regained control of Congress in 1892, they passed the Repeal Act of 1894 that overturned civil right laws enacted by Republicans. Republicans founded the HCBU’s and started the NAACP to counter the racist practices of the Democrats. It took Republicans six decades to finally enact civil rights laws in the 1950’s and 1960’s, over the objection of Democrats.
It defies logic for Democrats today to claim that the racist Democrats suddenly joined the Republican Party after Republicans—including Republican Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—finally won the civil rights battle against the racist Democrats. In fact, the racist Democrats declared that they would rather vote for a “yellow dog” than vote for a Republican, because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks.
The Modern Civil Rights Era
Undeniably, during the civil rights era of the 1960's, it was the Democrats who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other protestors were fighting. Democrat Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor in Birmingham let loose vicious dogs and turned skin-burning fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators. Democrat Georgia Governor Lester Maddox famously brandished ax handles to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant. Democrat Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 and thundered, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." In 1954, Democrat Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus tried to prevent desegregation of a Little Rock public school.
Historical records show that it was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who established the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, enforced the desegregation of the military, sent troops to Arkansas to desegregate the schools, and appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court which resulted in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision ending school segregation. Eisenhower also supported the civil rights laws of 1957 and 1960.
Little known by many today is the fact that it was Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, not Democrat President Lyndon Johnson, who pushed through the civil rights laws of the 1960’s. In fact, Dirksen was key to the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965 and 1968. Dirksen wrote the language for the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Dirksen also crafted the language for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in housing.
Omitted from discussions today are significant facts about the struggle to pass the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. The law guaranteed equal access to public facilities and banned racial discrimination by any entity receiving federal government financing. The law was an update of Republican Charles Sumner's 1875 Civil Rights Act which had been stuck down by the Democrat-controlled US Supreme Court in 1883.
The chief opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, Albert Gore, Sr. and Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, filibustered against the bill for 14 straight hours before the final vote. Former presidential candidate Richard Nixon lobbied hard for the passage of the bill. When the bill finally came up for a vote, the House of Representatives passed the bill by 289 to 124. 80% of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted yes, and only 63% of Democrats voted yes. The Senate vote was 73 to 27, with 21 Democrats in the Senate voting no, and only 6 Republicans voting no.
Equally important was the 1965 Voting Rights Act that authorized the federal government to abolish literacy tests and other means used to prevent blacks from exercising their constitutional right to vote that was granted by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. With images of violence against civil rights protestors led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shaping the national debate, Democrats in Congress finally decided not to filibuster the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When the bill came up for a vote, both houses of Congress passed the bill. In the House of Representatives, 85% of Republicans and 80% of Democrats voted for the bill. In the Senate, 17 Democrats voted no, and only one Republican voted no.
Notably, in his 4,500-word State of the Union Address delivered on January 4, 1965, Johnson mentioned scores of topics for federal action, but only thirty five words were devoted to civil rights. He did not mention one word about voting rights. Information about Johnson’s anemic civil rights policy positions can be found in the “Public Papers of the President, Lyndon B. Johnson,” 1965, vol. 1, p.1-9.
The statement by President Johnson about losing the South after passage of the 1964 civil rights law was not made out of a concern that racist Democrats would suddenly join the Republican Party that was fighting for the civil rights of blacks. Instead, it was an expression of fear that the racist Democrats would again form a third party, such as the short-lived States Rights Democratic Party. In fact, Alabama’s Democrat Governor George C. Wallace in 1968 started the American Independent Party that attracted other racist candidates, including Democrat Atlanta Mayor (later Governor of Georgia) Lester Maddox.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy is lauded as a civil rights advocate. In reality, Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil rights Act while he was a senator, as did Democrat Senator Al Gore, Sr. After he became president, John F. Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King that was organized by A. Phillip Randolph who was a black Republican. President Kennedy, through his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a Communist in order to undermine Dr. King.
The relentless disparagement of Dr. King by Democrats led to his being physically assaulted and ultimately to his tragic death. In March of 1968, while referring to Dr. King's leaving Memphis, Tennessee after riots broke out where a teenager was killed, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, called Dr. King a "trouble-maker" who starts trouble, but runs like a coward after trouble is ignited. A few weeks later, Dr. King returned to Memphis and was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Exposing the Democrats’ Litany of False Assertions about Republicans – From Barry Goldwater to Hurricane Katrina
Democrats today denounce Republican Senator Barry Goldwater as anti-black. However a review of Senator Barry Goldwater’s record shows that he was a Libertarian, not a racist. Goldwater was a member of the Arizona NAACP and was involved in desegregating the Arizona National Guard. He supported the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the Civil Rights Act of 1960, as well as the constitutional amendment banning the poll tax. His opposition to the more comprehensive Civil Rights Act of 1964 was based on his libertarian views about government. Goldwater believed that the 1964 Act, as written, unconstitutionally extended the federal government's commerce power to private citizens, furthering the government’s efforts to "legislate morality" and restrict the rights of employers.
Contrary to the false assertions by Democrats today, the racist "Dixiecrats" did not all migrate to the Republican Party. With the party slogan: "Segregation Forever!," the Dixiecrats, who were Democrats, formed the States Rights Democratic Party for the presidential election of 1948. The Dixiecrats remained Democrats for all local elections and all subsequent national elections.
Today, some of those Dixiecrats continue their political careers as Democrats, including former Democrat Senator Ernest Hollings who put up the Confederate flag over the state capitol when he was the governor of South Carolina.
Another former "Dixiecrat" is Democrat Senator Robert Byrd who is well known for having been a "Keagle" in the Ku Klux Klan. There was no public outcry when Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd praised Senator Byrd as someone who would have been "a great senator for any moment," including the Civil War. Democrats denounced Senator Trent Lott for his remarks about Senator Strom Thurmond. However, Senator Thurmond was never in the Ku Klux Klan and, after he became a Republican, defended blacks against lynching and the discriminatory poll taxes imposed on blacks by Democrats. If Senator Byrd and Senator Thurmond were alive during the Civil War, and Byrd had his way, Thurmond would have been lynched.
In the arsenal of the Democrats is a condemnation of Republican President Richard Nixon for his so-called “Southern Strategy.” These same Democrats expressed no concern when the racially segregated South voted solidly for Democrats; yet unfairly deride Republicans because of the thirty-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party that began in the 1970's. Nixon's "Southern Strategy was an effort on his part to get fair-minded people in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values and were discriminating against blacks. Georgia did not switch until 2004, and some Southern states, including Louisiana, was still controlled by Democrats until the election of Republican Bobby Jindal in 2007.
As part of their efforts to keep blacks toeing the Democratic Party line, Democrats falsely accuse Republicans of “disenfranchising“ blacks, citing the 2000 election, even though second recounts of the votes in Florida by the Miami Herald and a consortium of major news organizations confirmed that President George W. Bush won the election. Also, investigations by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that no blacks were denied the right to vote. If even one black person had been denied the right to vote, that person’s name would have been blasted on the front page of every newspaper in the nation. As for the “felon purge list,” the Miami Herald found that whites were twice as likely to be incorrectly placed on the list as blacks.
An example of hypocrisy is how the Democrats use the name “Willie Horton” to castigate Republicans. Democrats do not mention that it was former Vice President Al Gore who first brought up Willie Horton’s name against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis during the 1988 primary election because, after Dukakis released convicted murderer Willie Horton from prison on a weekend furlough, Horton raped a woman and stabbed her husband.
In the general election, former President George H. W. Bush followed the example of Al Gore and used the name of Willie Horton against Dukakis who was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. Today, Democrats condemn George H. W. Bush about Willie Horton, but hypocritically give Al Gore a pass.
To their eternal infamy, Democrats used the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina for their own partisan political gain. While criticizing President Bush, Democrats turned a blind eye to the failures of the Democrats running the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. The black Democrat officials in New Orleans did not execute the emergency evacuation plan and allowed over 1,000 school buses and city transit buses to stay in parking lots and become ruined by the flood.
Further, the Posse Comitatus Act passed by Congress in 1878 prevents a president from sending federal troops to a state without the governor’s consent. The Democrat governor of Louisiana, a white woman, refused to cooperate with President Bush when the president asked for her consent to begin a mandatory evacuation four days before the storm. The Democrats in the Louisiana homeland security office also refused to let the Red Cross bring truckloads of food, water and supplies to the Superdome. Since 1980, Louisiana emergency personnel knew that the levees in New Orleans would not withstand a category 3 or 4 hurricane. Yet, the Democrats in Congress filibustered President Bush’s energy bill which was introduced in 2001 and contained $540 million for repairing the levees in New Orleans.
The challenge for Republicans is to conduct a broad-based educational campaign to overcome the misinformation about the Republican Party put out by Democrats and echoed in the media.
Until blacks stop voting overwhelmingly for Democrats and start leveraging their votes, as other groups do, there will be no changes in black communities run by Democrats. Black Americans need to stop having their vote taken for granted, seize control over their own destiny and hold politicians accountable for the content of their policies, not the label of their party.
Frances Rice is a lawyer, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Chairman of the National Black Republican Association.
By Frances Rice