Is the government shutdown caused by racism?

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:58 EDT
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American conservative tea party voters, fighting mad. Isolated on white via Shutterstock
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The roots of the current government shutdown are based in the racial political dynamic created by the New Deal, argues a liberal blogger.

Zack Beauchamp, a reporter for Think Progress, argued Wednesday that the seeds of the modern conservative movement were planted during legislative wrangling within the Democratic Party over the New Deal.

The Democratic Party had long been the party of racist southern whites, but “the Depression-caused backlash against Republican incumbents” swept Franklin D. Roosevelt into the White House along with other northern Democrats.

“The southerners were all of a sudden a minority, and the deal the southern Democrats made with the northern Democrats is the northerners would get their New Deal if the southerners got, essentially, racist exclusions and other racial policy inserted into the New Deal and no things like anti-lynching (laws),” Beauchamp explained Wednesday on “The Thom Hartmann Program”.

Despite this bargain, the New Deal started turning blacks away from the Republican Party, he said.

“The New Deal brought black people into the Democratic coalition because it benefitted them substantially,” Beauchamp said. “This led northern Democrats to become more and more supportive of raced-based legislation.”

This shift eventually brought about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is generally credited with driving white southerners away from the Democratic Party.

Beauchamp said the modern conservative movement, which was started during the failed presidential campaign of Republican Barry Goldwater that same year and crystalized by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, was rooted in this racist backlash.

“They found a way to make arguments against the type of activist economic policy that led to integration and uplift for African-Americans economically in race-neutral language when they started losing, really losing, the civil rights fight,” Beauchamp said. “So they could make arguments like, ‘It’s not the government’s role to forcibly integrate businesses.’”

That view still persists among some present-day Republican lawmakers.
Beauchamp said those new Republican converts were extremely economically conservative, and he said the new party dynamic tended to drive away moderates.

“The birth of the modern conservative movement began partly, at least politically, out of a reaction to racial progress, and it’s very hard to separate in the long run of American history the modern conservative movement and the backlash of the New Deal and to things like the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Beauchamp said.

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