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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The return of the Dixiecrats

    For those readers who are younger than 50 you will not remember the Southern Democrats of the US Congress in the 1950's and 60's.   These Dixiecrats were always opposed to any socially progressive legislation during this time in our history.  Civil rights legislation was always going to be filibustered when it was brought up in the Senate.
    The readers of this blog maybe surprised that I once was a Republican.  A liberal Republican.  In the 1960's and 70's liberal Republicans existed in substantial numbers.  In the Senate there were Senators like Mark Hatfield, Chuck Percy, Ed Brook, Mac Mathias, Jacob Javits, Bob Packwood and Hugh Scott who joined with liberal Democrat Senators to pass much of the progressive agenda of that era.   What changed that reality was the civil rights legislation of the 1960's promoted by a Democrat, Lyndon Johnson.   The progressive Republican Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and at that time Nelson Rockefeller was transformed when the Dixiecrats found a new home in the Republican Party. They not only joined the Republican Party but slowly their ideology pushed out the moderate and liberal Republicans.  Nixon's Southern Strategy was only one of the first one to take advantage of this transformation.  With this reality many liberal Republicans shifted to the Democrat Party (as I did) and conservatives followed the Dixiecrats to the Republican Party.  The culmination of this shift is what we see in the two parties today--parties divided along clear ideological lines.
      For those Republicans who are horrified to hear Donald Trump talk about preventing Muslims from entering the Country you are 45 years late in being disappointed in hearing this rhetoric from the leading candidate in your party.  The rhetoric we hear today came with the baggage you inherited when you welcomed the Dixiecrats into your party.  The Tea Party and today's Republican ideology is simply a throwback to the xenophobic ideology of the old Dixiecrats.  Muslims and immigrants have simply replaced African Americans as the target for their fears.  Donald Trump is just the reincarnation of George Wallace.
     So as I listened to the Republican candidates for President debate last night I couldn't help but think that "the chickens have come home to roost" for the choices the Republican Party made 45 years ago.  The bigotry (immigrants are rapists), fear (America is at war) and anger (take my Country back) that defined the Dixiecrats of the past has metastasized in the current Republican Party.  When these candidates talk about taking our Country back and restoring our Country to its past I can't help but think that the time they are talking about is when the Dixiecrats existed in the Democrat Party.  Testosterone fueled bravado seems like a poor substitute for a rational foreign policy that will leave our Country in a continue state of war and conflict.

    William Grieder of the Nation has this take on the battle in today's Republican Party.

P.S. 1
    This could have also been mentioned at the debate last night.  Obama got blamed for everything else. I guess he was still growing up in Kenya.


1 comment:

edblisa said...

We need a big "Do Over". No one gets along, the lobbyists control the money flow, and the lawyers write law that no common man could ever hope to understand. I think Obama has had great ideas, but the implementation has been hijacked by lobbyists and lawyers and back room deals and then signed into law that the American public has to deal with for years to come. I really think that the only way this country will be able to recover is to have a "Great Depression"....I'm not wishing it, but the foundation of our country is cracked beyond repair and is collapsing from the top down.