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  1. #1
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    The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism

    Under pressure from fellow Republicans, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott recently stepped down from his post as Senate Majority Leader because of racially offensive comments he made earlier in the month. He was persuaded to take this step by Republicans who believed that his comments were at odds with the principles of their party.

    Of course, Democrats have used the Lott affair to pillory the Republicans as racists. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who had first dismissed the idea that Sen. Lott was a racist, later claimed that his stepping down did not really address the Republican Party’s inherent racism. "Republicans have to prove, not only to us, of course, but to the American people that they are as sensitive to this question of racism, this question of civil rights, this question of equal opportunity, as they say they are," Senator Daschle told CNN. Among high-profile Democrats, Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer offered similar comments.

    It’s about time that Republicans quit *****-footing around on the issue of race. They need to point out that in both principle and practice, the Republican Party has a far better record than the Democrats on race. Even more importantly, they need to stress that on the issues that most affect African-Americans today, the Democratic position represents racism of the most offensive sort—a patronizing racism that denigrates Blacks every bit as badly as the old racism of Jim Crow and segregation.

    Republicans can begin by observing that their Party was founded on the basis of principles invoked by Abraham Lincoln. He himself recurred to the principles of the American Founding, specifically the Declaration of Independence, so we can say that the principles of the Republican Party are the principles of the nation. In essence these principles hold that the only purpose of government is to protect the equal natural rights of individual citizens. These rights inhere in individuals, not groups, and are antecedent to the creation of government. They are the rights invoked by the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—not happiness, but the pursuit of happiness.

    We should remember that the Republican Party was created in response to a crisis arising from the fact that American public opinion on the issue of slavery had drifted away from the principles of the Founding. While the Founders had tolerated slavery out of necessity, many Americans, especially within the Democratic Party, had come to accept the idea that slavery was a "positive good." While Thomas Jefferson, the founder of what evolved into the Democratic Party, had argued that slavery was bad not only for the slave but also for the slave owner, John C. Calhoun, had turned this principle on its head: slavery was good not only for the slave holder, but also for the slave.

    Calhoun’s fundamental enterprise was to defend the institution of slavery. To do so, he first had to overturn the principles of the American Founding. He started with the Declaration of Independence, arguing that "[the proposition ’all men are created equal’] as now understood, has become the most false and dangerous of all political errors....We now begin to experience the danger of admitting so great an error to have a place in the declaration of independence." Thus Calhoun transformed the Democratic Party of Jefferson into the Party of Slavery.

    The most liberal position among ante-bellum Democrats regarding slavery was that slavery was an issue that should be decided by popular vote. For example, Stephen Douglas, Lincoln’s opponent in the 1858 Illinois senate race and the 1860 presidential campaign, advocated "popular sovereignty." He defended the right of the people in the territories to outlaw slavery, but also defended the right of Southerners to own slaves and transport them to the new territories.

    The Democratic Party’s war against African-Americans continued after the Civil War (which many Democrats in fact opposed, often working actively to undercut the Union war effort). Democrats, both north and south fought the attempt to implement the equality for African-Americans gained at such a high cost. This opposition was often violent. Indeed, the Ku Klux Klan operated as the de facto terrorist arm of the national Democratic Party during Reconstruction.

    Democrats defeated Reconstruction in the end and on its ruins created Jim Crow. Democratic liberalism did not extend to issue of race. Woodrow Wilson was the quintessential "liberal racist," a species of Democrat that later included the likes of William Fulbright of Arkansas, Sam Ervin of North Carolina, and Albert Gore, father of Al, of Tennessee.

    In the 1920s, the Republican Party platform routinely called for anti-lynching legislation. The Democrats rejected such calls in their own platforms. When FDR forged the New Deal, he was able to pry Blacks away from their traditional attachment to the Party of Lincoln. But they remained in their dependent status, Democrats by virtue of political expediency, not principle.

    As the incomparable Ann Coulter has observed, when Strom Thurmond, the praise of whom landed Sen. Lott in hot water, ran a segregationist campaign in 1948, he ran as a Dixie-CRAT, not a Dixie-CAN. When he lost, he went back to being a Democrat. He only repudiated his segregationist views when he later became a Republican

    Even the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which supposedly established the Democrats’ bona fides on race, was passed in spite of the Democrats rather than because of them. Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen pushed the bill through the Senate, despite the no-votes of 21 Democrats, including Gore Sr. and Robert Byrd, who remains a powerful force in the Senate today. In contrast, only four Republicans opposed the bill, mostly like Barry Goldwater on libertarian principles, not segregationist ones.

    Indeed, the case of Sen. Byrd is instructive when it comes to the double standard applied to the two parties when it comes to race. Even those Democrats who have exploited the Lott affair acknowledge that he is no racist. Can the same be said about Sen. Byrd, who was a member of the KKK and who recently used the "n" word on national TV?

    "Ah, but this is all in the past," say the Democrats. "Now we push a pro-African-American agenda." But the reality differs significantly from the claim.

    Take the issue of education. The single biggest obstacle to the achievement of true equality in the United States is not poverty, but education. If Democrats sincerely wished to help the minority children on whose behalf they claim to labor, they would embrace school choice to help such children escape the trap of sub-standard schools. But that would offend the teachers’ unions upon which the Democrats depend for financial and "in-kind" support. So as has often been the case with the group politics of the Democratic party, African-American interests are sacrificed to other groups who have more pull.

    "Affirmative action" has become the touchstone of Democratic racial politics. Democrats portray anyone who opposes affirmative action as racist. But affirmative action, as currently practiced, is racist to the core. It is based on the assumption that African-Americans are incapable of competing with whites. It represents the kind of paternalistic racism that would have done honor to Calhoun. For the modern liberal Democratic racist as for the old-fashioned one, blacks are simply incapable of freedom. They will always need Ol’ Massa’s help. And woe be to any African-American who wanders off of the Democratic plantation. Ask Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, or Ward Connerly. Although they echo the call for a "color-blind society" that once characterized the vision of Martin Luther King Jr., they are pilloried as "Uncle Toms" of "Oreos" by such enforcers of the Democratic plantation system as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.

    If we need the perfect symbol for the true character of the Democratic Party when it comes to race, we need look no farther than Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Rep. Kennedy portrays himself as a friend of African-Americans. But his touching solicitude for African-Americans as a group is gross hypocrisy. When inconvenienced by a real African-American woman trying to do her job, Rep. Kennedy shoved her out of his way, giving her arm a yank for good measure. In practice, the Democratic Party as a whole cares as much about real African-Americans as Rep. Kennedy does.

  2. #2
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    Re: The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism

    Republicans can begin by observing that their Party was founded on the basis of principles invoked by Abraham Lincoln.
    That's interesting, since Lincoln was racist:

    "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything."

    -- Abraham Lincoln, Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858

    "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause."

    -- Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862

  3. #3
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    Re: The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    That's interesting, since Lincoln was racist:

    "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything."

    -- Abraham Lincoln, Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858

    "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause."

    -- Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862
    I guess thats the true definition of a leader. He acted based on what was good for the cause, not his own personal beliefs. Thankfully abolishing slavery was good for the Union.

  4. #4
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    Re: The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism

    I disagree. The true definition of a leader is a person who acts based upon a set of moral principles, not who does what's good for some "cause". Only if the "cause" is consistent with such moral principles would this be otherwise.

    In this case, he acted with disregard for the moral principles that all men are created equal. It's a popular myth that the war was fought to free the slaves.

  5. #5
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    Re: The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    I disagree. The true definition of a leader is a person who acts based upon a set of moral principles, not who does what's good for some "cause". Only if the "cause" is consistent with such moral principles would this be otherwise.

    In this case, he acted with disregard for the moral principles that all men are created equal. It's a popular myth that the war was fought to free the slaves.
    I have to disagree with you also, to a degree anyway. You can't let moral principles get in the way of making decisions. I'm anti-abortion, but as a leader could I deny a womans right, give her time off, etc? Would I even try? No. Not because I'd be afraid of the legal issues, but because I know good order and discipline demands it. I may not like it, but thats tough. I'm not a big fan of profanity, I especially don't like to be cursed at (especially take the Lords name in vain (we can debate that at another time). If I have a sailor that works for me gets mad and cusses at me while I'm counseling him, I let it go. Why? I let him get it off his chest, let him say his thing. Later, I'll remind him that I don't like to be cussed at. If I do this while I'm counseling him, that might make him even more mad, or withdrawn, whatever, you get the point. I put my personal feelings aside for a few minutes and do my job. Morals can be a guide, but they shouldn't be your only source of making the right choice. Sometimes you have to act against your own beliefs for the good of the "cause". Leaders do it on a daily basis.

    Also, he didn't act in disregard for his moral principles. Maybe yours or mine, but not his own. Bottom line, he made the right choice

  6. #6
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    Re: The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Racism

    Quote Originally Posted by SubSailor
    You can't let moral principles get in the way of making decisions.
    On the contrary, your decisions should be based upon moral principles.

    I certainly agree that moral principles aren't the only consideration when making decisions, but it morality should certainly be one of them.

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