Thursday, June 16, 2011

The History of the Democratic Party and Racism

Ok, maybe it's not thorough enough to be a "history," but it's still interesting to me.

This was all spurred by one comment I read on Youtube.


Robert Caro pointed out in his extensive biography of LBJ, shortly after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, in a phone conversation (on tape at the LBJ Library) with Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, LBJ said, "That'll keep the niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years."

There you go. When Republican president Eisenhower wanted to pass the 1957 Civil Rights Act - it was vetoed by LBJ, JFK, Albert Gore Sr, and mostly other democrats. So it failed to be passed.
Slate (on the 1957 Civil Rights Act):
The heart of the bill, in its original form, was a section that outlawed segregation in all aspects of American life—housing, schools, voting booths, public places such as restaurants and theaters—and imposed criminal penalties on violators. Yet it was precisely this section that Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson agreed to eliminate in his effort to push the bill through. Prominent civil rights activists, in and out of Congress, were outraged. Many of them argued that it would be better to kill the bill and start over with a new one.
On his deathbed in 1874, Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) told a Republican colleague: “You must take care of the civil rights bill – my bill, the civil rights bill. Don’t let it fail.” In March 1875, the Republican-controlled 43rd Congress followed up the GOP’s 1866 Civil Rights Act and 1871 Civil Rights Act with the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever. A Republican president, Ulysses Grant, signed the bill into law that same day.

Among its provisions, the 1875 Civil Rights Act banned racial discrimination in public accommodations. Sound familiar? Though struck down by the Supreme Court eight years later, the 1875 Civil Rights Act would be reborn as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

During the twenty years of the FDR and Truman administrations, the Democrats had refused to enact any civil rights legislation. In contrast, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which had been written by his Attorney General, a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The original draft would have permitted the federal government to sue anyone violating another person’s constitutional rights, but this powerful provision would have to wait until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The bill had to be weakened considerably to secure enough Democrat votes to pass, so violations would be civil, not criminal offenses, and penalties were light. Vice President Richard Nixon helped overcome a Democrat filibuster in the Senate. The GOP then strengthened enforcement with its 1960 Civil Rights Act.

Clever strategizing had won him the support of most African-American voters, but it took President John Kennedy (D-MA) nearly two years to make good on even one of his promises to them. He refused to attend a dinner commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and turned down Martin Luther King’s invitation to speak at the March on Washington. He did name Thurgood Marshall to the federal bench, but that was to an appeals court in New York, far from the fray in southern states. Kennedy did not honor his campaign promise to submit to Congress a new civil rights bill soon after taking office.

While the Kennedy administration was ignoring its campaign pledges, the Republican minority in Congress introduced several bills to protect the constitutional rights of African-Americans. In January 1963, congressional Republicans introduced a sweeping civil rights bill to enact what Democrat opposition had prevented from being included in the 1957 and 1960 laws. Threatened by this initiative, the president finally acted. Hastily drafted in a single one-nighter, the Kennedy bill fell well short of what the GOP had introduced the month before. Many Democrats were preparing a protracted Senate filibuster of this civil rights bill, which was in a committee of the House of Representatives when John Kennedy was murdered in November 1963.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was an update of Charles Sumner’s 1875 Civil Rights Act. In striking down that law in 1883, the Supreme Court had ruled that the 14th Amendment was insufficient constitutional authorization, so the 1964 Civil Rights Act had to be written in such a way as to rely on the interstate commerce clause for its constitutional underpinning. The 1964 Act guaranteed equal access to public facilities and banned racial discrimination by any entity receiving federal funding, thereby extending coverage to most every hospital, school and government contractor. Also banned was racial discrimination in unions and in companies with more than twenty-five employees. Enforcement provisions were much more rigorous than those of the 1957 and 1960 Acts.

Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act much more than did the Democrats. Contrary to Democrat myth, Everett Dirksen (R-IL), the Senate Minority Leader – not President Lyndon Johnson – was the person most responsible for its passage. Mindful of how Democrat opposition had forced Republicans to weaken their 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts, President Johnson promised Republicans that he would publicly credit the GOP for its strong support. Johnson played no role in the legislative fight. In the House of Representatives, the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed with 80% support from Republicans but only 63% support from Democrats.

In the Senate, Dirksen had no trouble rounding up the votes of most Republicans, and former presidential candidate Richard Nixon lobbied hard for passage. On the Democrat side, the Senate leadership did support the bill, while the chief opponents were Senators Sam Ervin (D-NC), Al Gore (D-TN) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). Senator Byrd, whom Democrats still call “the conscience of the Senate,” filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act for fourteen straight hours. At a meeting held in his office, Dirksen modified the bill so it could be passed despite Democrat opposition. He strongly condemned the Democrat-led 57-day filibuster: “The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing of government, in education, and in employment. It must not be stayed or denied. It is here!”

Along with most other political leaders at the time, Johnson, credited Dirksen for getting the bill passed: “The Attorney General said that you were very helpful and did an excellent job… I’ll see that you get proper attention and credit.” At the time, for instance, The Chicago Defender, a renowned African-American newspaper, praised Senator Dirksen for leading passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The struggle for civil rights was not finished, however, as most southern states remained under the control of segregationist Democrat governors, such as George Wallace (D-AL), Orval Faubus (D-AR) and Lester Maddox (D-GA). Full enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not arrive until the Republican political ascendancy in the South during the 1980s.
Washington Post:
In 1960, King was arrested for trespassing during a sit-in and held in Georgia's Reidsville prison. Fearing for his son's life, Martin Luther King Sr. appealed to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to secure his release.

When King was freed, his father vowed to deliver 10 million votes to the Democrat, even though Kennedy was only a reluctant supporter of civil rights. That began four decades of black people voting for liberals.
Dirksen Congressional Center:
In the twenty-six major civil rights votes since 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.
Wikipedia (On the KKK):
As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans. In 1870 and 1871 the federal government passed the Force Acts, which were used to prosecute Klan crimes.[18] Prosecution of Klan crimes and enforcement of the Force Acts suppressed Klan activity. In 1874 and later, however, newly organized and openly active paramilitary organizations, such as the White League and the Red Shirts, started a fresh round of violence aimed at suppressing blacks' voting and running Republicans out of office. These contributed to segregationist white Democrats regaining political power in all the Southern states by 1877.
 [...]In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated that the Klan's primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republican state governments, people like Tennessee governor Brownlow and other carpetbaggers and scalawags.
[...]Its predecessor had been an exclusively partisan Democratic organization in the South. The second Klan grew in the Midwest, where for a time, its members were courted by both Republicans and Democrats. The KKK state organizations endorsed candidates from either party that supported its goals; Prohibition in particular helped the Klan and some Republicans to make common cause in the Midwest. In the South, however, the southern Klan remained Democratic, closely allied with Democratic police, sheriffs, and other functionaries of local government. With continuing disfranchisement of most African Americans and many poor whites, the only political activity took place within the Democratic Party.
Youtube video on the Klan.

President Theodore Roosevelt was one of many Progressives captivated by this notion: He opposed voting rights for African-American men, which were guaranteed by the 15th amendment, on the grounds that the black race was still in its adolescence.

[...]Writing in the Socialist Democratic Herald, Victor Berger, the leader of the party’s right wing, declared that “there can be no doubt that the negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race—that the Caucasian and even the Mongolian have the start on them in civilization by many years.” 
Suite 101:
Wilson took his southern outlooks and feelings towards race with him to the White House. Almost upon taking office, he fired most of the African Americans who held posts within the federal government, and segregated the Navy, which until then had been desegregated. Many of the newly segregated parts of Wilson’s federal government would remain so, clear into the 1950s.
While president of Princeton University, Wilson discouraged blacks from even applying for admission, preferring to keep the peace among white students than have black students admitted.
During [Wilson's] first term in office, the House passed a law making racial intermarriage a felony in the District of Columbia. His new Postmaster General also ordered that his Washington offices be segregated, with the Treasury and Navy soon doing the same. Suddenly, photographs were required of all applicants for federal jobs. When pressed by black leaders, Wilson replied, "The purpose of these measures was to reduce the friction Ö It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I sincerely believe it to be in their interest."

The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white, according to a new television program and book, which describe how the Democrats started the KKK and for decades harassed the GOP with lynchings and threats.

An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964.

[...]Further, the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves
In 1840, the very first national nominating convention of the Democratic Party adopted a platform which read in part:
Resolved, That Congress has no power … to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states … that all efforts by abolitionists … made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery … are calculated … to diminish the happiness of the people, and endanger the stability and permanency of the union.
[...]In their national convention of 1860, Democrats harshly responded to certain Northern (Republican) states that were passing state laws to evade the Fugitive Slave Law by adopting a plank in the Democratic Party Platform which read:

Resolved, That the enactments of the State Legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect.

Human Events:
Fast forward to 1898 in Wilmington, N.C., where Democrats murdered black Republicans so they could stage, "the nation's only recorded coup d'etat."  Then, in 1922, Democrats in the Senate filibustered a Republican attempt to make lynching a federal crime.
[...] Moreover, let's take a look at a couple of studies that actually set out to compare how racist Republicans and Democrats actually are. First off, a professor from Yale looked at voting patterns and she found that:
"...(W)hite Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black. ...In House races, white Democrats are 38 percentage points less likely to vote Democratic if their candidate is black."

[...]Then there is another study, this time from a professor at Stanford -- of how much government largesse Democrats and Republicans believe people deserved to be given after Katrina -- and, surprise, surprise: Democrats behaved in a racist fashion while Republicans didn't:
"But for Democrats, race mattered -- and in a disturbing way. Overall, Democrats were willing to give whites about $1,500 more than they chose to give to a black or other minority...." Republicans are likely to be more stringent, both in terms of money and time, Iyengar said. "However, their position is 'principled' in the sense that it stems from a strong belief in individualism (as opposed to handouts). Thus their responses to the assistance questions are relatively invariant across the different media conditions. Independents and Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to be affected by racial cues."

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