A lot of conservatives like Dinesh D’Souza describe history to everyone as Lincoln, a Republican who ended slavery and Andrew Jackson, a Democrat who had championed slavery. While this statement in literal sense is true, there are many components to it that morph the reality of the current Republican Party.
Slavery ended in 1863, but Slaves weren’t free until 1964
While Lincoln was able to end slavery, the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War was not what Lincoln would've intended. It caused the rise of the infamous Ku-Klux-Klan and various hate groups. While blacks were free from shackles, they weren’t free from the risk of being lynched and burned.
As Democrats and Republicans took turns in the White House, nothing changed. Reconstruction era came and went. The Lost Cause became a great subject in the former Confederate States, and confederate monuments being were erected across the southern United States. At the end of the 19th century, the infamous Jim Crow laws began to flourish in the south which paved way for half a century of segregationist policies. Who enabled that? The Supreme Court in their verdict of Plessy v. Ferguson.
World War I and II — Service of Black men, Still the Racial Injustice
African Americans enlisted in the army in considerable numbers during World War I to defend the United States — a country which still treated them as secondary citizens. The army in World War I was segregated — different canteens, different night camps but the same battleground. They served their country for nothing in return.
During World War II segregation still continued. Black troops received lesser medical care due to lack of sufficient black nurses. They served their country again for nothing in return.
Brown v. Board of Education and 1957 Civil Rights Act
Following the verdict of Brown v. Board of education calling segregation in schools illegal, it paved way for the Civil Rights Act of 1957. While the Eisenhower Republicans passed the bills in both houses, the Southern Democrats hugely objected, but Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (future president) held his ground and enabled the passage of the bill.
It was during this time that Strom Thurmond, a senator from South Carolina tried to filibuster the bill with a 24 hr long debate. Despite the attempts, The bill was passed and civil rights took one more step in the right direction. So far, Republicans are the party of rights and justice. Thurmond who was a Democrat who claimed he wasn’t racist, but was to opposed to excessive federal authority which he called communist agitation. I am trying to wrap my mind around how that makes sense. Save this name Strom Thurmond in your mind, there is a twist.
Civil Rights act of 1964 — The Truth of today’s Republican Party
Lyndon B. Johnson pushed for a comprehensive Civil Rights Act and that was probably the landmark step in achieving racial equality making it illegal for the government to discriminate. The passage of this, as expected was not favored by Southern Senators and House members. In the litmus test for the Republican party, it failed this time. Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater voted against the bill, undoing the 100 year effort Lincoln’s Republican Party made to bring the country together.
Remember Strom Thurmond from the last section? He switched parties from Democrat to Republican and continued to be one of the longest serving Senators until 2003. As a Republican he continued to have a dismal record voting in matters of racial equality in the U.S. Senate.
The Birth of Nixon and The Southern Strategy
The Democrats paid a price for their Civil Rights Act. In the 1968 election, a breakaway Democrat George Wallace with his famous “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” won electoral votes in the South, taking a vote share of Herbert Humphrey and paving way for a Richard Nixon victory in 1968.
Nixon on the other hand decided to break into the Southern United States, where he and Barry Goldwater pushed a series of narratives and campaigns to woo conservative voters in the South who had traditionally supported the Democrats. This also pushed the Republican Party further to the right
1980–2016: Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43 — The Era of Nothing
The short clip will describe much better than in words about Ronald Reagan’s attitude towards people of color.
There was a different severity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Misguided drug laws and draconian sentencing requirements, especially pertaining to crack cocaine, had produced profoundly unequal outcomes for people of color. The results had decimated minority families — black men in particular continued to be victims of the wars on drugs and on crime.
2016–2020: The Trump era of Tyranny
From the start of President Trump’s campaign in 2015 all the way till the 3rd debate of the 2020 election, his message clearly stoked a sense of deep division. While fake cases like Jussie Smollett was used to downplay the racial injustice, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others facing police brutality were in the tough times.
Starting to talk about the last four years would go for pages, but I am sure there are various amazing articles on Medium highlighting the last 4 years While I absolutely will never downplay the lives lost on 9/11 and the trauma the country as a whole faced, 1/6/2021 storming of Capitol Hill was an equally dark day.
The Last Word
Republicans, you are no longer the party of Lincoln, but the party:
- Of Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon’s racist Southern Strategy
- A party that Strom Thurmond sought refuge to further his racist beliefs
- That every confederate battle flag flyer supports
- That African Americans have no trust in
- That gave a platform for the Donald J Trump’s toxic rhetoric
- That held relief back when millions needed it during a pandemic
- That is not in touch with your average American