Tuesday, July 17, 2012
The Exception That Proves the Rule
In the end, only one Republican senator voted no: Strom Thurmond of my birth state of South Carolina, founder of the Dixiecrats Party.Think of that: In 1965, only one Republican senator voted against this great expansion of voting rights for the disenfranchised and dispossessed.
It is true that Sen. Thurmond did vote against the act and was a Republican at the time, but he'd been a Republican for a whole year, in protest largely of the Civil Rights Act of '64. Before that he was a Democrat; he also ran for President, as Rev. Jackson writes, as a Dixiecrat (still with Democrat in the title). He was a segregationist first, foremost and forever; the letters R or D after his name are inadequate to describe his beliefs. His views about Negroes (to use the polite parlance of the time) was indistinguishable from other segregationists, all of whom had a D behind their name.
Now, is there a detail about the final vote for the bill in the Senate which Rev. Jackson leaves out? Like how many Democrats voted against the bill, perhaps? Well the number was 17, all Southerners, more than a quarter of the Democrats serving in the Senate. So, as with the Civil Rights Act of '64, the Republicans voted overwhelmingly for it, and a substantial number of Democrats, the segregationists, the racists, voted against it. That's the real history.
Now, why does he say 'think of that' in talking about Republicans being for full civil rights for black Americans? It certainly was no surprise that the solidly Democratic south was racist. The Democrats were the party of slavery and Jim Crow. The Republicans were the anti-slavery, pro-full civil rights for all Americans party. The vote was not contrary to that history. It's unremarkable in its full consistency with the history of the Democratic Party in the South.
Oh, yeah, I remember now--after this the parties switched beliefs, the Democrats stopped being racist and the racists all swarmed to the anti-slavery, pro-civil rights for blacks party. How could I have forgotten that? It's one of the Democrats' chief Big Lies.
But today a different GOP wages war on our right to vote. The modern Republican Party is largely a creation of that same Strom Thurmond, who helped Richard Nixon defeat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 with his famous “Southern Strategy,” which helped turn southern Democratic Wallace voters into Republican Nixon voters, and later into Reagan voters and Bush voters.The foundation of the modern Republican Party is no longer rooted in Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation; its roots lie in the racism of Thurmond, who did everything he could to block African Americans from gaining expanded voting rights.
How about this for an alternate history? Some of the Southern Democrats migrated to the Republican party as the incidence of actual, institutional racism diminished with time and the Southern Democrats, always socially conservative, felt more at home with Republicans as the Democrats lurched ever more radically leftward.
Strom Thurmond no more "warped" the Republicans than Wallace voters backed Republicans. It's a complete lie. The Southern Strategy was not race driven; it was easy to portray Democrats as associated with the radical left, especially after the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. The Southern Democrats didn't leave the Democrats so much as the Democrats left them, emphasis on 'left.'
Only the Democrats think race is the motivator of the Republicans. We Republicans know better. That the Democrats are constantly calling us racists is projection of the most basic sort. They think only in terms of race, so we must too. Too bad for the Democrats that, along with many of their beliefs, it's just not so.
Thus, the new charge, that the horrible Republicans' interest (admittedly a self interest) in preventing voter fraud is the new poll tax or the new literacy test, is as accurate as the Democrats' open distortion of history.
Instead of automatic voter registration, Republican legislators in states such as Florida are making it harder for even groups like the League of Women Voters to register voters. Instead of emulating the successes of same-day voting and early voting, GOP legislators in states such as Maine and Ohio have fought to roll back these successful reforms.Instead of making it easier for working people to vote by instituting voting holidays, conservative legislators in states such as Pennsylvania and Texas have enacted voter ID laws to depress and restrict turnout of poor people, students and minority voters.The situation has grown so bad that in his speech to the NAACP national convention, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently compared the Texas restrictions to the reviled “poll taxes” of the Jim Crow era.
Well, who could imagine that AG Eric "my people" Holder could be anything other than completely unbiased about sane, non-racial, laws to prevent voter fraud?
Automatic voter registration, same-day voting and early voting are conduits for voter fraud. Requiring a photo ID is the least intrusive way to begin to ensure the person voting is who he or she says and is the person registered to vote. There's nothing racial about it. Nothing.
When Democrats require a photo ID to attend a Democratic political rally, they are clearly seeking to suppress attendance by their base. Clearly.
The generation that fought successfully against Democrat racism is a victim of its success. There's little more battle to wage. Institutional racism only exists now for the 'advantage' of black Americans, and to a lesser degree for those with Spanish surnames. It is to the disadvantage of whites and more acutely to Asians. So the people who make a living fighting a battle already won are forced to invent previously unknown forms of racism, just as they are required to rewrite history falsely, in order to justify their continued existence.
Witness Rev. Jackson.
Oh, and the title is my favorite aphorism because it contains, like a fly trapped in amber, a word whose meaning has changed through the time the saying has been accurately repeated. 'Proves' in the saying means 'put to the test' not 'shows it's true.'
Resorting to modern usage, however, saying Strom Thurmond was a Republican bellwether (rather than an outlier, an exception) and an architect of modern Republican principles proves that Rev. Jackson is deluded.