No, the Parties Didn't 'Switch'
It's time to debunk a popular myth about the Republican and Democrat Parties.
Is there any basis to the oft-repeated claim that the Republican Party essentially switched with the Democrats from the Old South? A brief look at the historical facts will show that this is an unsupported leftist theory. Racist Democrats who were in power as the Dixiecrat Party, founded in the 1940s, did not became today’s Republicans.
The split in the Democrat Party in 1948 was between supporters of President Harry S. Truman’s military integration and those who rejected minorities in America’s Armed Forces. The Dixiecrat Party resulted, largely comprised of Southern Democrats devoted to racial segregation and supporting Jim Crow laws to deny American blacks voting, educational, and accommodation rights. The Dixiecrat Party ran on the Democrat Platform with the added plank of legalizing racial segregation.
Contrast this divide with the 1948 Republican National Committee Platform, which stated, “Constant and effective insistence on the personal dignity of the individual, and his right to complete justice without regard to race, creed or color, is a fundamental American principle. We aim always to unite and to strengthen; never to weaken or divide. In such a brotherhood will we Americans get results. Thus, we will overcome all obstacles.”
In this document, member beliefs are clearly defined: “Lynching or any other form of mob violence anywhere is a disgrace to any civilized state, and we favor the prompt enactment of legislation to end this infamy. One of the basic principles of this Republic is the equality of all individuals in their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This principle is enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Constitution of the United States; it was vindicated on the field of battle and became the cornerstone of this Republic. This right of equal opportunity to work and to advance in life should never be limited in any individual because of race, religion, color, or country of origin. We favor the enactment and just enforcement of such Federal legislation as may be necessary to maintain this right at all times in every part of this Republic.”
As the Dixiecrats of 1948 worked for codified segregation, Republicans proclaimed, “We favor the abolition of the poll tax as a requisite to voting. We are opposed to the idea of racial segregation in the armed services of the United States.”
Following Truman’s presidency, Dwight Eisenhower won Tennessee, Virginia, and Florida in 1952, running on the Republican National Committee Platform with a full-throated condemnation of racism and prejudice: “We condemn bigots who inject class, racial and religious prejudice into public and political matters. Bigotry is un-American and a danger to the Republic. We deplore the duplicity and insincerity of the Party in power in racial and religious matters. Although they have been in office as a Majority Party for many years, they have not kept nor do they intend to keep their promises.”
Republicans also refused to use identity politics: “The Republican Party will not mislead, exploit or attempt to confuse minority groups for political purposes. All American citizens are entitled to full, impartial enforcement of Federal laws relating to their civil rights.”
These words were animated with belief and proof of action. The Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Education decision to integrate schools was not just supported in the 1956 RNC Platform, but President Eisenhower ran on that set of issues and picked up Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia in his 1956 reelection campaign. The very next year, Eisenhower deployed the 101st Airborne into Arkansas to protect the “Little Rock Nine” who entered Little Rock Central High School under armed protections despite the best efforts of the Left. Eisenhower went on to form the Civil Rights Commission in 1957, which further established the center-right stance toward integration by addressing racism. Georgia Democrat Senator Richard Russell responded by comparing the 101st Airborne servicemen to “Hitler’s storm troopers.” Despite the presidency being held by Republicans actively working toward equal rights, local southern governments were overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats that practiced what the now-defunct Dixiecrats of the 1940s had preached.
While John F. Kennedy led the Democrats nationally to a White House victory, George Wallace (D) became Alabama’s governor and promised, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Wallace’s inauguration speech was written by Ku Klux Klan leader Asa Carter.
It was Lyndon B. Johnson (D) who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but he also oversaw the massive expansion of the federal government in his “War on Poverty” that placed hundreds of thousands in the role of dependents receiving financial support. President Johnson was known to have berated black employees and staff as “furniture” and, as NBC News noted in 2014, was a “Civil Rights hero but also a racist,” using the N-word as regularly in his everyday conversations. His motives for the “Great Society” were arguably racist.
In Congress, 78% of Democrats, including Senator Robert Byrd, a former KKK exalted cyclops, opposed the Civil Rights Act while 82% of the GOP senators voted to support it. Of the nay votes in the House, 74% came from the Democrats. Without the support of the Republicans, the Civil Rights Act would have died. And as for a “great switch,” only ONE of the 21 Democrats who voted against the CRA in the Senate later became a Republican.
The Republican Party grew in the South after the failed policies of the Jimmy Carter era and the renewal of economic freedom by President Ronald Reagan, himself a former Democrat who stood against the evolving policies of the Left that abandoned the family, promoted abortion, embraced communism, and gutted our military for the purpose of government welfare. More GOP growth was seen in Congress in 1994 with the “Contract with America” that balanced our nation’s budget using the principles of Reaganomics even during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
In 2005, Dr. Thomas Sowell, highly educated, conservative, and black, penned these words that transcend time: “Liberal Democrats, especially, must keep blacks fearful of racism everywhere. … Not only must the present be distorted, so must the past — and any alternative view of the future must be nipped in the bud. That is why prominent minority figures who stray from the liberal plantation must be discredited, debased.”
It was Johnson’s “Great Society” that effectively enslaved generations of poor Americans on urban poverty plantations that remain to this day, while tearing down statues, rewriting history, and silencing critics are tactics and tools of the Democrats who desperately want to promote divided politics. So why is the Republican Party now called the party of hate and racial prejudice?