While most rational people recognize that the modern day Republican party is built on racism, most within the party flat-out deny that’s the case. In fact, they’ll usually point out how Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and Democrats are the ones who created the KKK and supported segregation. As a progressive, and a Democrat, I don’t deny that those facts are indisputable.
However, when someone uses these facts, they’re completely ignoring the context of history and the devolution of the Republican party.
Proving that the modern day GOP is built on racism isn’t really all that difficult. In fact, I can use three indisputable facts to prove that it is.
1. The “Southern strategy”: If you’ve never heard of this term, it was basically a calculated effort by Richard Nixon to seize on white racism in the South by pandering to Democrats who felt betrayed by the Democratic party as it embraced equality, civil rights and moved away from its racist roots. In fact, here’s a direct quote from Nixon’s political strategist he gave during an interview in 1970:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
While Republicans will certainly try to spin such comments, it’s pretty hard to do that when you combine the reality of the “Southern strategy” with the next to points I’m about to make.
2. While many Republicans will deny that the Civil War was about racism and slavery, whenever Republicans are accused of being racists, they often cite being the “party of Lincoln” in an attempt to “prove” they’re not racists: Tell me, if the Civil War wasn’t about racism and slavery (as many modern day Republicans claim it wasn’t), then why does “being the party of Lincoln” matter when people accuse the GOP of being built on racism? The truth is, if racism and slavery weren’t the driving forces behind the Civil War, as many on the right argue, then being the “party of Lincoln” shouldn’t matter one bit when either topic is discussed.
Yet, if you bring up either topic, you’re almost guaranteed to get Republicans reaching back over 150 years to “prove” that their party isn’t driven by racial ignorance — despite the fact that nearly all of these former Confederate states (most of which supported segregation, as well) are all now “red states.”
3. As the Democratic party began to embrace civil rights and equality, three very well-known racists and segregationists who were once Democrats abandoned the party — becoming Republicans: It is undeniable that three of the most well-known racists and segregationists of the last 50+ years were George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. At one point, all three men were proud members of the Democratic party. However, by 1970, all three men had become members of the GOP.
But… but, why?
Why would three racist men, who were still devout segregationists, leave the supposed “racist” party (Democrats) to join the “party of Lincoln and equality” (Republicans) around the same time the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by LBJ — a Democrat?
That doesn’t make any sense. If Democrats were still the party of racism, bigotry and segregation (as Republicans claim it still is today), while the GOP is the party of equality (as Republicans claim it is today), why would three men who vehemently opposed civil rights, desegregation and equality join the Republican party?
Oh, wait, we can’t forget that whole “Southern strategy” thing that began around the same time where Republicans (as Nixon’s own strategist said) were targeting the “Negrophobic whites” to pander to racists who felt betrayed by Democrats who were embracing racial progress and equality.
Like I said earlier, while it’s true that Democrats were once the party of racism and segregation, that all changed during the 50’s and the 60’s. And as the party began to evolve toward racial equality and civil rights for all Americans, it was the GOP, fearing it would lose power, that embraced the “Negrophobic whites” who felt abandoned by the Democratic party.
That brings us to today where a blatant racist and bigot, Donald Trump, is the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Because after decades of pandering to and embracing racism, bigotry and ignorance, someone like Trump is exactly who the Republican party deserves as their party’s presidential nominee.
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