Bruce Bartlett seeks to convince us that the GOP is the party of civil rights, based on a McCain-esque timeline that treats 1865 like it was just yesterday:
Everyone knows this, but it’s worth repeating: The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and was established in 1854 to block the expansion of slavery. The Democratic Party was the party of slavery: Its two founders, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, owned large numbers of slaves, and every party platform before the Civil War defended the institution unequivocally.
After the war, it was the Republican Party that rammed through the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution over Democratic opposition. Republicans also enacted a series of civil-rights laws that culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which basically did what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 accomplished.
Of course, were we basing electoral decisions in 2008 on the composition of our political landscape circa the 1860s, I hereby request we strip California (pop. 380,000 as of 1860) of 51 of its undeserved electoral votes. How dare such a tiny state hold such massive political sway!
As we progress through the history of Republicans and race in America (touching on the Klan, of course, as well as the bitter legacy of the Democrats), we come to the seemingly entirely-missed revelation at the end: the story stops with Richard Nixon. Well, sort of:
Richard Nixon is said to have developed a “Southern strategy” of using racial code words like “law and order” to gain votes in the South. Yet he did more to desegregate southern schools than any president in history. Nixon also created affirmative action to help break the power of racist labor unions, and minority set-asides for government contracts to aid black entrepreneurs.
Nixon didn’t create affirmative action, by the way. Kennedy did, and was followed up by LBJ’s enforcement of it. Nixon helped expand the program, but he by no means “created” it. He also fought school desegregation on some fronts. After the blatant oversell of Nixon’s role in civil rights history, the article simply ends. After 1974, Bartlett can’t come up with a single defense of the GOP – it’s like how your American history class stopped during Vietnam and you were apparently supposed to fill in the blanks by watching Platoon, Wall Street and Forrest Gump. There’s a reason that black people don’t vote for Republicans in significant numbers. It’s because black people aren’t idiots. Nobody making an informed voting decision votes because of shit that stopped happening, under your best case scenario, thirty-four years ago. LaShawn Barber puts the nail in the coffin, first declaring that black people are drooling, greedy sycophants who lack the resolve to move past their infantile dependency on the Democratic Party (always a great start in persuading a voting bloc that’s pretty sure you’re a racist jackass to begin with), but then reinforces Bartlett’s case that the Republican appeal to the black community should be to remind them that the Congressional Black Caucus is a middle-of-the-night vote away from forcing them all back onto a plantation in Alabama.
Reading both Bartlett and Barber, you get the feeling that the appeal isn’t motivated by a desire to see the GOP become the party of civil rights – the giant-ass blank spot from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush pretty much puts the kibosh on that – but instead by a patronizingly nasty belief that black Americans simply lack the ability to peer past their welfare-granted Playstations and understand the simple truth screaming in their faces. A truth, incidentally, that’s incredibly weak, poorly reasoned and decidedly irrelevant to the modern-day composition of the GOP, but apparently good enough for the simpering masses of Negroes waiting in line outside of William Jefferson’s office for some of that freezer money, or waiting impatiently to fetch some organic lemonade for Nancy Pelosi.