Always on the Wrong Side of History: A Look at Many of the Constitutional Rights Conservatives Have Opposed

confederate-flag-southRarely does a day go by where I don’t have some sort of interaction with a conservative proclaiming that they, and the Republican party, are the ones fighting for a Constitutional America. Unfortunately for them, that’s a claim that our nation’s history soundly disputes.

When it comes to “patriotism,” conservatives seem to believe that they’re the only true patriots. You know, because us liberals clearly hate America and our Constitution. Even though looking back throughout our history, liberals are almost always on the right side of it – which is something conservatives can’t say.

But I must make one point very clear – when I say “conservatives,” I mean conservatives. Republicans haven’t always been conservatives. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1950’s and 60’s when the Republican party decided to embrace the South’s blatant racism, hoping to lure white voters to their side, that the GOP become the “party of Southern conservatives.” Because, as we all know, conservatives love to point out that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and he was a Republican.

That’s true, but he wasn’t a conservative.

It’s as if conservatives willfully ignore the fact that the states which fought with the South during the Civil War are also the states that opposed integration, voting rights and the Civil Rights Act – and now almost every single one of them is strongly Republican.

Clearly the party has changed quite a bit since the days of Abraham Lincoln. In fact, if you go along our nation’s history and look at the evolution of the Republican party, as Democrats moved away from racism and bigotry, Republicans were more than willing to swoop right in there and carry that torch. It’s the same ignorance and intolerance we’ve seen for generations; the parties just switched. The South didn’t magically “evolve,” and for many of them to deny the indisputable facts proving this massive shift in political ideologies within the last century only prove their ignorance (or flat-out denial) of reality.

But let’s take a moment and look at a few of the freedoms Southern conservatives (modern day Republicans) have opposed throughout our nation’s history:

Freeing the slaves
Allowing women to vote
Interracial marriage
The Civil Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act
Women’s rights
Same-sex marriage

That’s quite the list of ignorance, bigotry and racism.

History shows it hasn’t mattered if it’s 1860, 1960 or 2014, states like Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina all opposed (or currently oppose in the case of ongoing battles on women’s rights and same-sex marriage) every single one of those fights for freedom listed above. And “shockingly” every single one of those states is strongly Republican.

And one of the saddest aspects is, on almost every single one of those issues conservatives used their religion as a defense for their ignorance.

So, the next time you come across a conservative family member or friend and engage them in some kind of political debate, I suggest you reference this article to showcase just how ignorant conservative ideology has been throughout American history. Because looking back, conservatives are almost always on the wrong side of history.


Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Keith

    America has been on the wrong side of history in my lifetime.

  • Jim Russell

    Allen Clifton: It would appear that you are in need of some history I do not blame you You’re simply a product of our Progressive education system.

    On March 20, 1854 the Republican Party was established in Ripon, Wisconsin. Referred to as the GOP or Grand Old Party, it established for one reason: to break the chains of slavery and ensure the unalienable rights endowed by the Creator of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would be for all Americans.

    The Republican Party was created to achieve individual freedom. Then, as now, the antagonist to the Republican party has been the Democrats, the party of collective subjugation and individual enslavement — then physical, now economic.

    The first black members of the US House and Senate were Republicans. The first civil rights legislation came from Republicans. Democrats gave us the KKK, Jim Crow, lynchings, poll taxes, literacy tests, and failed policies like the “Great Society.” war on poverty

    Todate the War on Poverty has cost the American taxpayer an estimated $18 trillion since 1965. That’s more than twice the amount that we spent on guns, bullets, and bombs wars combined, from the War for Independence to Afghanistan. it is truly a war with no end.

    A southern-born president, Woodrow Wilson’s a democrat and progressive who’s legacy has been dogged by his outright racism. In his writings, Wilson eulogized the antebellum South and lamented the period of reconstruction that followed the Civil War. To quote Wilson himself on this subject, “self-preservation [forced whites] to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes”. he also segregated the offices of the federal government.

    Republican President Eisenhower ordered troops to enforce school desegregation. Republican Senator Everett Dirksen enabled the 1964 civil rights legislation to pass, in opposition to Democrat Senators Robert Byrd (KKK Grand Wizard) and Al Gore, Sr.

    As a matter of fact, it was Democrat President Lyndon Baines Johnson who stated, “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years” as he confided with two like-minded governors on Air Force One regarding his underlying intentions for the “Great Society” programs.

    • EverTheGreen

      Jim Russell, do you venture out often? The article was not about Democrats and Republicans, it was about conservatives and liberals. Conservatives have always been on the wrong side of history in this country.
      Conservatives refused to support the colonists in their fight against the British. Conservatives supported slavery to the end, as well as Jim Crow. Conservatives opposed women’s suffrage, the minimum wage (and yes, Roosevelt’s own words insisted that wage be enough to live on for a family, not just an individual), social security and medicare. Get outside, get some air. It’ll do you good.

      • Jim Russell

        Perhaps I should venture out more; but you should spend a little more time actually reading history. American conservatism is essentially based, in ordered liberty. It is a blending of the sometimes contending requirements of the community and the individual, of individual freedom and individual responsibility, of limited government and unlimited markets. The one unmistakable characteristic of Conservatism is their rebellion against big government the “leave us alone” attitude that stretches back as far as the Founding of the Republic. I think you confuse the Tories or Loyalist of Colonial America which were content with an overbearing government of England and the Monarchy. Hardly champions of individual freedom. I should suggest that you read Russell Kirk’s book the Conservative Mind if you are interest in the history of Conservativism. Currently Conservatives support the Republican party only because it is far more conservative than the Now Progressive party also known as the Democrat party or the party of big government.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower


        How about you refute the points in the article, about conservatives OPPOSING individual rights in the name of a hateful xtian religion?

    • Dee Piddy

      It’s funny when self-important people comment on an article without even reading it first to know their entire rambling manifesto is completely and utterly irrelevant and was already refuted well before the first keystroke.
      Thanks for the giggles.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Says the perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    • The most troubling thing about all this is that our “leaders” called it a “War” on poverty. As though speaking of killing poor people would somehow help. There have been some direct killings, but really what it means is killing every program we’ve ever built to help the poor. If you are really so selfish as to say “the hell with our poor, they are too expensive” then at least, don’t call yourself (not you, specifically, but anyone who takes this stance) a “Christian”. Jesus told us to take care of the poor more than He told us to do anything else. Only a very slanted view of the world says we should count the cost, then resent it, of helping our own poor. SMH

  • 2Smart2bGOP

    Let ’em secede; and make sure that they get no more federal aid, ever. Shouldn’t take long for them to come back, hat in hand; the southern red states are the biggest recipients of federal aid in this country.

  • Kojo

    It is indeed true that the history of both political parties are stained with racism and intolerance. This is the racism that still exist in a somewhat underground form today. If there is a party that has shown GROWTH in understanding and progresses toward real equality for all, the Democratic Party is far far in the lead. There was too much switching back and forth in history to determine who was truly more ‘on the right side’ especially when it comes to politicians who continue to smile in our faces while thinking and saying something completely different behind closed doors. We need to remember that these ‘founding fathers’ for all their wisdom gave us slavery and all the consequences that came with it.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      This isn’t so much about parties as it is about progressives vs. conservatives.

  • KenStarr

    …and that’s the short list.

  • Marshall

    This is a poisonous lie that democrats like to perpetuate since they were slave owners. Abraham Lincoln was a Christian conservative fighting for the rights of man on Christian principle that is self evident in the battle hymn of the republic.

    Democrats embrace any ideology that gives them greater control and power over others. During the civil war it was the slave owning south. A people run by a aristocracy and an easily manipulated lower class with very little chance of upward mobility and an endorsement of slavery in contradiction to the laws of Mosses on servants which requires them to be treated as family and be freed after a minimum of 7 years.

    Further more they had a distaste for the constitution from its inception that grew over the years. The three fifths compromise being a disgruntled compromise that lead to a lack of power in later years when the northern states outnumbered them in population and number of states. Easily rectified with freed black men.

    In truth the more conservatives in the US are are always arrayed against the democrats through out history due in large part to an embrace of literal bible interpretation and love of the constitution. The republicans and democrats in large majorities voted for the civil rights acts due its need need at the time. Most Republicans began to move against the civil rights acts because as time has passed these outdated measures have begun to have a contradictory and reverse effect.

    When white Americans find that though they may have racial bias they don’t have an inherent hatred or fear of someone based on race. They would not see themselves rejecting someone service based on the color of his skin but behavior. But if that poor behavior is from a person of color he finds himself branded as a racist. He does not hate mexicans only wishes that they would not flood over the border of his nation illegally and burden his nation already burdened with the welfare of its own citizens and debt.

    Further more he does not deny homosexuals service he simply cannot participate in a religious ceremony that insults his God no matter the pay. He does not cater his policy, opinion, or behavior to transgenders and their ilk because he sees them as delusional.

    These are not rejection of rights but simply the application of commonsense and moral principles required to prevent a free country from descending into anarchy as well as the tyranny of the minority and the majority. Conservatives have long fought to maintain this a balance argues the Christian principles of morality and order with the right of a person to choose his or her own fate.

    Democrats in contrast seek control. Whether by division ( mason dickson line/class) or the taking away of basic human rights (slavery/abortion). Slander, misinformation, and violence are also trade marks of the democrat party though both sides are guilty of using those tools because of the nature of politics. Though conservatives condemned them.