Friday, June 25, 2004

U.S.: A little history lesson for black Democrats

From a Bruce Bartlett article comes this

...Roosevelt's economic policies actually hurt black farmers. His plan to raise farm prices mainly involved reducing production. Moreover, the method he chose to do this was particularly injurious to tenant farmers, rather than landowners. Since only 20 percent of black farmers owned their land, the effect of this policy was to push many blacks out of farming. This led to the great northern migration of blacks from the South to the industrial cities of the North.

Unfortunately, many blacks found that other New Deal policies hurt them in the North as well. The most important was legislation greatly strengthening the power of labor unions, which often excluded blacks. The American Federation of Labor, which mainly represented skilled craftsmen, was especially hostile to black membership. The CIO was more hospitable, but was still not entirely receptive.

Throughout the Roosevelt era, blacks pressed for civil rights laws to open voting, end poll taxes and lynching. But FDR strenuously resisted such measures, fearing a loss of Southern support. As historian Paul Moreno put it, "Roosevelt's unwillingness to antagonize his Southern white supporters was the chief limitation on New Deal racial policy."
John at Discriminations writes that
It is often forgotten, in short, that the Democrats had a "Southern Strategy" before the Republicans did. And it is also often forgotten that just as all those Southerners, including the Southern racists, who supported the New Deal were not conservatives, so the later Republican "Southern Strategy" contained more than an appeal to race.

Indeed, the Republicans would do well to publicize aspects of their civil rights history that are little known today. A nice beginning is made by a letter in today's Wall Street Journal.
[T]he actual voting record for both Houses of Congress shows that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed the Senate on a 73-to-27 vote. The Democratic supermajority in the Senate split their vote 46 (69%) for and 21 (31%) against. The Republicans, on the other hand, split their vote 27 for (82%) and 6 against (18%). Thus, the no vote consisted of 78% Democrats. Further, the infamous 74-day filibuster was led by the Southern Democrats, who overwhelmingly voted against the act.

An examination of the House vote shows a similar pattern. The House voted 290 to 130 in favor. Democrats split their vote 152 (61%) to 96 (39%) while Republicans split theirs 138 (80%) to 34 (20%). The no vote consisted of 74% Democrats. Clearly, lthe 1964 Civil Rights Act could not have been passed without the leadership of Republicans such as Everett Dirksen and the votes of Republicans.

Since 1964 the Democratic Party lost its Southern opponents of civil rights -- through defeat, retirement, and party switching. Very few commentators hold its former "Southern Strategy" against it now. The Republican Party has changed, too. No prominent Southern Republicans that I know of now oppose colorblind equal treatment, the core of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In fact, Democrats now oppose colorblindness, and accuse Republicans of racism for not going along with their switch.

But no one ever said History was fair.
Okay, you plantation lackeys out there, what say you? Shall you remain with a Democrat party that is opposed to Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of colorblindness and equality of opportunity or shall you opt for freedom and throw off the shackles of fear, affirmative action, and bigoted condescension?


H'tip to John.


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