“The Republican Party is the Root of all Evil” – me
Early racists were members of the Democratic Party, which was the party of the South. They were slave owners, and they did not believe that their slaves were equal to white people. Eventually people who sympathized with those who were once slave owners switched to become members of the Republican Party. Now most racists are members of the Republican Party and they still believe that intelligence relies on skin color.
Contemporary Republicans have been inviting racist hate back into our daily lives. For this they have become a party of evil. For this and reasons I will discuss in future articles, the Republicans need a timeout from governing, for perhaps the next 50 years.
The party of Southern slave owners was not the Republican Party. In the 1860’s and beyond the Democrats ruled the South – but the party was not at all like today’s Democratic Party. However it is true that in the 1850’s and 1860’s leading up to the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and slave owners. When the Democrats decided to leave the Union and become the Confederate States of America they controlled everything south of Washington, DC (and a few states north of that city); they controlled all of the Southern states to the Mississippi River and also Texas and Louisiana. When the Confederacy (the Democrats) were beaten in the Civil War (with huge loss of life) these states once again became part of the USA. And their slaves were freed. The South erupted in anger and fear. Freed slaves were terrorized by the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Tens of thousands were killed outright.
But we have to go back further. The racism that underlies our country was there from the moment the first slave was abducted from a village or town in Africa and imprisoned on a ship to American (or anywhere). People (white people) reasoned that slavery did not go against their Christianity by arguing that black people were more savage and therefore obviously far less intelligent than white people.
The slave states in the South were not, therefore, starting from a place that allowed for any equality between black folks and white folks.
By the time the United States became the United States of America, the Southern economy was built around slave labor. Wealthy southerners grew cotton and tobacco. To pay well, fields had to be expansive. Plantation life developed around these labor-intensive farming operations. Slaves were brought to America as early as 1619-20 even before America’s founding. So, given all this, it is obvious that Plantation/slave culture was firmly established in the South by the time colonists won their independence and wrote our founding documents. Our forefathers in non-slave states found themselves having to include laws that suited Southern slave states or the South was ready to walk away from the new nation. We might have been two nations from the beginning. Perhaps we should have been. The compromises our forefathers made with Southerners have not been good for America.
Parties Switch Ideologies
When America passed the Civil Rights act in the 1960’s, the Democratic Party had a more mixed membership, was no longer full of only Southerners who harbored resentments and who did not want people of color to mix with white people in any way – even to vote. We had been through two World Wars by then and the parties were more diverse in terms of ideologies. But the remnants of the original Southern white supremacists were violently opposed to ending Jim Crow in the South and they came to be called the Dixiecrats. Many Dixiecrats migrated to the Republican Party, but some held out (e.g. George Wallace) and continued to embarrass a Democratic Party, that was now made of mainly of people who favored Civil Rights legislation.
Reasons for white Southern resentment:
The South lost a lot when they lost the Civil War, at least from their point of view:
- They lost a way of life
- They lost their booming agricultural economy
- They lost their slaves who they considered property and so this represented an additional financial loss
- They lost their excuses, which had saved them from being sinners, and morally reprehensible, and yet their pride would not allow them to confess their sins or make reparations
- They feared that there would be retribution against whites by the freed slaves
- They needed to continue to believe that black folks were still and always would be inferior to white folks
- They needed freed slaves to be very scared
However, wars have consequences, or they should.
The Great Migration – Racism moves North
Americans move around. When freed folks realized that in the South they were not really free, many moved North. Northerners were not always happy when black folks moved into their neighborhoods, competed for their jobs, sent kids to their schools. The Northerners found they had some racism of their own. Factories and white families headed off to the suburbs and left black folks, separate once again, and poor in a new way because they could not easily go back to farming. City life often required skills that had not yet been learned and which hardly anyone was offering to teach. Black skin set Americans of African Descent apart, made them easy to isolate as a group, and set up the false duality we struggle with to this day. This is our shameful racist dichotomy:
White skin Black or Brown skin
Intelligent Limited intelligence
Genetically superior Inferior Genes
Creative and innovative Physical
Gentlemanly Loose control of sexuality
And on and on.
Republican Party is now the Party of Racism
Until very recently self-identified racists could be found in both political parties. But with the advent of the Tea Party, the Conservative talkers, the web of organizations, and the deeply partisan divide the Republicans are no longer mixed in terms of racism v. tolerance. Even if they claim they are not racist they have to be to go along with that party. Rachel Maddow always says, “Don’t go by what they say, go by what they do.” Accept as evidence what we saw as we celebrated the 50thanniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, which was a resurrection of the racist behavior harbored in white hearts during the Reconstruction, and dim echoes of the terrorism, hate, and resentment that was born in our post-Civil War days.
The Supreme Court celebrated 50 years of voting fairness by gutting the most important section of the Voting Rights Act. The states who had used unfair voting practices, like poll taxes and literacy tests, had been required to preclear voting changes with the federal government. The Court overturned the preclearance procedure because, they argued, voting rights belonged to the states. (This is a Republican talking point – to put the federal government back in the place the forefathers intended. This is a states’ rights argument.) And here is what began to happen as soon as the voting rights act was disemboweled.
- Voter suppression through voter ID’s, closing polling places, putting polling places where they were hard to get to, purging voter rolls.
- Gerrymandering into black and white districts.
- The rise of in-the-open white supremacy.
- A push for nationalism over globalism.
- Continuing to nurse resentment at the outcome of the Civil War.
- Continuing to venerate the Confederacy.
- Backing guns.
- Urging the formation of militias.
- Bringing back the “posse comitatus” bone thrown to placate Southerners near the end the Reconstruction, laws that gave away federal powers to local sheriffs.
If our American government did have a referee or an overarching organization, like the NCAA for college basketball, the Republican Party might be penalized for keeping racism alive. They might even be forced to stay out of governing for the next 50 years, to take a long timeout. The only thing hopeful about this whole side trip we are being manipulated into taking is that this might represent the last hurrah for racism and even for white supremacy.
We the people can be the referee. We can put the GOP in a timeout. Vote for Dems in 2018.