The Party Of Kennedy V The Party Of Nixon In The Civil Rights Era
Two things started happening at the same time:
- Racist Democrats were getting antsy
- Neither party could afford to ignore civil rights anymore
In 1960 Kennedy defeated Nixon. At the time of his election, the both parties unevenly supported civil rights. But President Kennedy decided to move forward.
After Kennedys assassination in 1963, Johnson continued Kennedys civil rights focus.
As you can imagine, that did not sit particularly well with most Southern Democrats. This is when Strom Thurmond flew the coop for good.
In fact, a greater percentage of Congressional Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than did Democrats. Support for the Act followed geographic, not party, lines.
Soon after, the Republicans came up with their Southern Strategy a plan to woo white Southern voters to the party for the 1968 election.
The Kennedy and Johnson administrations had advanced civil rights, largely through national legislation and direct executive actions. So, the Southern Strategy was the opposite states rights and no integration.
As in the Civil War, the concepts of states rights and tradition, were codes for maintaining white supremacy.
Starting with Thurmond in 1964, and continuing throughout the Johnson and Nixon administrations, Dixiecrats left the Democrats for the Republicans.
The Parties Change Course
After the war, the Republican Party became more and more oriented towards economic growth, industry, and big business in Northern states, and in the beginning of the 20th century it had reached a general status as a party for the more wealthy classes in society. Many Republicans therefore gained financial success in the prosperous 1920s until the stock market crashed in 1929 initiating the era of the Great Depression.
Now, many Americans blamed Republican President Herbert Hoover for the financial damages brought by the crisis. In 1932 the country therefore instead elected Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to be president.
The Democratic Party largely stayed in power until 1980, when Republican Ronald Reagan was elected as president. Reagans social conservative politics and emphasis on cutting taxes, preserving family values, and increasing military funding were important steps in defining the modern Republican Party platform.
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The Dixie Democrats seceding from the Democratic Party. The rump convention, called after the Democrats had attached President Trumans civil rights program to the party platform, placed Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Governor Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi in nomination.
Up until the post-World War II period, the partys hold on the region was so entrenched that Southern politicians usually couldnt get elected unless they were Democrats. But when President Harry S. Truman, a Democratic Southerner, introduced a pro-civil rights platform at the partys 1948 convention, a faction walked out.
These defectors, known as the Dixiecrats, held a separate convention in Birmingham, Alabama. There, they nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, a staunch opposer of civil rights, to run for president on their States Rights ticket. Although Thurmond lost the election to Truman, he still won over a million popular votes.
It was the first time since before the Civil War that the South was not solidly Democratic, Goldfield says. And that began the erosion of the southern influence in the Democratic party.
After that, the majority of the South still continued to vote Democratic because it thought of the Republican party as the party of Abraham Lincoln and Reconstruction. The big break didnt come until President Johnson, another Southern Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
The Parties Did Not Switch Platforms
From a business perspective, Rauchway pointed out, the loyalties of the parties did not really switch. Although the rhetoric and to a degree the policies of the parties do switch places, he wrote, their core supporters dont which is to say, the Republicans remain, throughout, the party of bigger businesses; its just that in the earlier era bigger businesses want bigger government and in the later era they dont.
In other words, businesses needed things that a bigger government could provide, such as infrastructure. Once these things were in place, a small, hands-off government became better for business. The parties did not switch in the 1960s either. The changes started decades earlier.
When Did The Democratic And Republican Platforms Switch
As noted above, the planks, platforms, ideologies and even the names of the American political parties switched often, and at many different points. We call these changes: the first party system, second party system, third party system, fourth party system, and todays fifth party system .
Some changes stick out like a sore thumb, but most of the changes between party systems happened slowly over time. Its hard to summarize or detail every issue, but the keys are names like Free Soil, Free Silver, Bourbon Democrats, anti-slavery Republicans, Stalwarts, Half-Breeds, American Independent, and other telling titles of factions or third parties whose members inevitably have gravitated toward a major party over time.
When we cant cut through the rhetoric, we can look at voting records to see which party favored what.
Its important to note, that the current parties werent established until the 1850s . From this point forward is when the major switching happens, but it is also when issues we consider important today take center stage for the first time. When Lincoln takes office, the Republican party is only a few years old, prior to this the ideology is roughly the same and they are called Federalists, and then Whigs. The same is true for anti-Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, and Jacksonian Democrats.
Perhaps the best answer to, when did the platforms switch, is: under Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and LBJ.
An Overview Of Platform Switching Between Republicans And Democrats
Above we gave a summary of the party systems, below we will look at key changes, key voter issues, and provide more details and justifications .
With the above said, there isnt one change that results in the political realignments and platform switches that define the Party Systems; instead, there are many.
Below is an overview of the most important changes alongside a quick history of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
Why Did Parties Switch Platforms And Members
The common thread of each major switch, aside from war, was civil rights. Or maybe we could more fairly say, state-enforced social and economic justice versus individual liberty as is illustrated by the charts on this page.
Civil rights aside, since before the first party was formed, our founding fathers have fought each other tooth and nail over the direction of the country. The biggest issues have been: big business versus small business, big government versus small government , big government versus small government , whether or not to have a central bank, and how much local and foreign credit and debt was the right amount.
We can see how some of the above values are consistent for a given quadrant of the political sphere, but not for a specific party in a two party system or even a faction or member of a party at a given time! We can also see how specific groups have shifted their interpretation of these things over time, and how some groups simply pay lip-service to the overarching ideals.
The planks and platforms of each opposing group have changed over time, as specific stances on these issues were taken, and as public opinion changed with the times.
A Response To The Claim Welfare Is Equatable To Slavery
In the 1850s, inequality in the Northern big government cities, northern immigration in the big cities , and African slavery in the small government south all existed side-by-side. and in ways, so it is today . Northern cities still favor bigger government, and they still have problems of racism and inequality, Rural South still favors small government . This does not make the North of today equatable to the slave economy of the South of yesterday however.
There is this idea that welfare is equatable to slavery in this respect, as in both cases a societal structure is providing basic essentials for a class of people . This argument, often presented in tandem with the claim the parties didnt switch/change is essentially a red herring that misses the nuances we describe on this page .
The southern conservatives who held slaves and fought for the Confederacy essentially switched out of the Democratic party starting in the 1960s, and even continuing to the modern day , in response to LBJs welfare programs . In other words, if the southern conservative had wanted to oppress a class of people with welfare, one would logically assume they wouldnt have switched out of the Democratic party over time in response to welfare programs.
Today it is a Southern Republican who flies to Confederate flag, today it is a Republican who champions small government in America. Yesterday, it was a Southern Democrat.
The Third Party System: Reconstruction And The Gilded Age
Post-Civil War era politics in the United States can be understood by examining the Third Party System factions of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age.
In the Gilded Age things change in a major way due to both parties embracing cronyism but before we get there we need to understand Reconstruction.
The changes in the Republican party in this era are best explained by looking at the conservative, moderate, and radical Republicans of Reconstruction . Meanwhile factions like carpet baggers and ex-Southern Unionist scallywags are illustrative of different reconstruction Democrats.
Here it is vital to note one of the hardest things to talk about in American history, but Ill say it plain. The South didnt want to lose the war, they wanted to win, they didnt want to stop slavery, they wanted to continue it. They did not respond well to losing the war. Lincoln was immediately executed, Andrew Johnson took over, he was impeached, and the military had to occupy the south while the KKK committed what was frankly genocide against Freedmen.
As noted above, Reconstruction was part rebuilding, part Civil Rights , part enforcing actual law and order and preventing forced slavery under different names and murder , and part .
The Redeemers completely changed the Democratic party by unifying the non-racist factions and moving the Democratic party toward business interests .
What Year Did The Democrats And Republicans Switch Platforms
After the end of Reconstruction the Republican Party generally dominated the North while a resurgent Democratic Party dominated the South. By the late 19th century, as the Democratic and Republican parties became more established, party switching became less frequent.
Beside above, when did the South become Republican? Via the “Republican Revolution” in the 1994 elections, Republicans captured a majority of Southern House seats for the first time. Today, the South is considered a Republican stronghold at the state and federal levels, with Republicans holding majorities in every Southern state after the 2014 elections.
Similarly one may ask, when did Republicans and Democrats switch colors?
Since the 1984 election, CBS has used the opposite scheme: blue for Democrats, red for Republicans. ABC used yellow for Republicans and blue for Democrats in 1976, then red for Republicans and blue for Democrats in 1980 and 1984, and 1988.
What were the views of the Democratic Republican Party?
Democratic–Republicans were deeply committed to the principles of republicanism, which they feared were threatened by the supposed monarchical tendencies of the Federalists. During the 1790s, the party strongly opposed Federalist programs, including the national bank.
How Republicans Gave Up On Reforming The South
As mentioned above, Republicans had done a lot to help former slaves in the South, but many of the gains they had made existed more on paper than in practice, and others were in danger of being rolled back.
And indeed, the backlash soon arrived. In the South, whites were dead set against what Radicals had done, and were willing to use violence to fight it.
In the North, whites essentially thought theyd done more than enough for black Southerners at this point. Businessmen wanted their own interests to take center stage. Some intellectuals worried about the federal government squelching states rights.
And public opinion turned there was little appetite among white Northerners for an indefinite violent federal occupation of the South.
But most Republicans no longer cared. The party had achieved its founding aim and had gone quite a bit further, since the Slave Power was now a thing of the past, and that provided a handy rationalization for not doing more. The cause of equal rights for black citizens would now essentially vanish from national American politics for decades.
How The Democrats Became Socially Liberal
The Third Party Democrats began to change from social conservative to social progressive in the 1890s at the end of the Gilded Age under the progressive populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Under Bryan, the Democratic Party became increasingly socially progressive and necessarily authoritative. From Bryan to Wilson, to LBJ, to Clinton the Democratic Party increasingly favored progressive social liberalism regarding government enforced social justice and economic intervention over governance, this attracted progressive Republicans and drove social conservatives from the party over time.
Third Party System: Republicans Versus Democrats The Battle Begins 1854
The Democrats of this era were against big government telling states whether or not they can own slaves, and they dont want big banks. See the Democratic Party Platform of 1856. The Democrats still saw themselves as the Liberal party of Jefferson and Jackson, the small business farm owning libertarians. Meanwhile, the Republicans were a new iteration of the parties of Hamilton and Clay, but with different factions supporting them then when they were Whigs.
The Republicans are for modernization. They are against slavery, for central banks, and for bigger industrialized business. They embrace ideas of taxes, credits, and debts in the interest of prosperity and social justice. They embrace many of the economic policies of the Whigs, such as national banks, railroads, high tariffs, homesteads, and aid to land grant colleges .
The Republicans also become known as a pro-business party at the time . The Republican coalition consisted of businesspeople, shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted to the partys modernization policies.
Meanwhile, the race issue pulled the great majority of white southerners into the Democratic Party as . The Republicans want a more northern style of commerce and banks, and Democrats want a smaller farmer-based economy, with less government and no central bank. See the Republican Party Platform of 1856 here
The Switch that Starts With Civil War
The Republican Sixth Party Strategy Where The Tea Party And Alt
Everything noted so far leads up to one other thing that needs to be discussed on its own .
After Voting Rights 1965 it wasnt just a matter of switching the South, it was a matter of taking that 1930s conservative coalition to the next level and the Republicans switching themselves .
No social conservative faction was strong enough on its own to win an election, not after Voting Rights, but together, under a strategically planned big tent, the social conservatives and establishment conservatives could create a siren-like Frankensteins monster to push for free-enterprise and socially conservative values against the progressive state an increasingly progressive Democratic Party .
This story involves:
The Powell memo, the southern strategy, the John Birch Society, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Norquist, Roger Aisle, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Fox News, Reagan, Right-Wing Radio, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, and a vast right-wing conspiracy aimed at getting the many different social conservative and establishment conservative factions to adopt each others ideology .
Essentially, the Conservative Coalition in their fight against Communism and liberal democrats since WWI, but especially when their hand was forced post 1965, have created the modern right-wing populist political machine to counter the lefts own political machine .
Neither Party Is Completely Blameless
The political history of African-Americans is often proved Douglas right. Yet, no one from any background whether a political, religious, or racial background should ever love any political party above principle. Although, history is clear that there have been major differences in how political parties treated black Americans. Neither party is completely blameless in all of its actions, nor have all the leaders in a party always been good or always been bad.
Understanding this truth, Representative Robert Brown Elliot, even though he was a strong Republican leader in his day, wisely advised, I am a slave to principles. I call no political party master. I have ever most sincerely embraced the democratic and representative ideal. Not indeed, as represented or professed by any political party but by its true significance, as transfigured in the Declaration of Independence and in the injunctions of Christianity.
Elliots admonition is wise. A line with political candidates that conform to what he called, The Injunctions of Christianity.
Those Racist Dixiecrats Create Mainstream Republican Policy
But their ideas formed modern GOPs core platform.
In a campaign ad, Democrat-turned-Republican Jesse Helms said racial quotas prevented white people from getting jobs. The lie of racial quotas persists in the GOPs rejection of affirmative action. Racial quotas are illegal.
Take the idea of special interests. Heres Helms view, as a Republican:
Are civil rights only for Negroes? While women in Washington who have been raped and mugged on the streets in broad daylight have experienced the most revolting sort of violation of their civil rights. The hundreds of others who have had their purses snatched by Negro hoodlums may understandably insist that their right to walk the street unmolested was violated. Television commentary, 1963, quoted in The Charlotte Observer.
But you would think that Ted Cruz would have a clearer understanding of the connections between the Dixiecrats and the Republican Party.
Looking to do your part? One way to get involved is to read the Indivisible Guide, which is written by former congressional staffers and is loaded with best practices for making Congress listen. Or follow this publication, connect with us on , and join us on Facebook.
The Myth Of The Republican
When faced with the sobering reality that Democrats supported slavery, started the Civil War when the abolitionist Republican Party won the Presidency, established the Ku Klux Klan to brutalize newly freed slaves and keep them from voting, opposed the Civil Rights Movement, modern-day liberals reflexively perpetuate rather pernicious myth–that the racist southern Democrats of the 1950s and 1960s became Republicans, leading to the so-called “switch” of the parties.
This is as ridiculous as it is easily debunked.
The Republican Party, of course, was founded in 1848 with the abolition of slavery as its core mission. Almost immediately after its second presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won the 1860 election, Democrat-controlled southern states seceded on the assumption that Lincoln would destroy their slave-based economies.
Once the Civil War ended, the newly freed slaves as expected flocked to the Republican Party, but Democrat control of the South from Reconstruction until the Civil Rights Era was near total. In 1960, Democrats held every Senate seat south of the Mason-Dixon line. In the 13 states that made up the Confederacy a century earlier, Democrats held a staggering 117-8 advantage in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party was so strong in the south that those 117 House members made up a full 41% of Democrats’ 283-153 advantage in the Chamber.
So how did this myth of a sudden “switch” get started?
It would not be the last time they used it.
Did The Democrats And Republicans Switch Parties
The US political parties, now called and , switched platform planks, , and many times in American history. These switches were typically spurred on by major legislative changes and events, such as the Civil War in the 1860s, and Civil Rights in the 1960s. The changes then unfolded over the course of decades to create what historians call the Party Systems.
What Does Democratic Mean
Starting alphabetically, the word means pertaining to or of the nature of democracy or a democracy.
Simply put, the lowercase democratic is a word used to refer to anything that resembles or has to do with a , a form of in which the supreme power rests with the people and is exercised by them directly or by politicians that they elect to them. In practice, this is usually accomplished through a fair, organized system of voting, in which or cast votes in support of political or societal issues .
So, the word democratic is used to describe government systems that are or resemble democracies and the people that run these types of governments. The United States of America is a representative democracy in which the people elect representatives to perform the demands of politics on their behalf. This is why we say that the US is a democratic country or that we have a democratic form of government.
The English word democratic dates all the way back to the late 1500 and early 1600s. It is derived from the Greek word dmokratía . The government system of the ancient Greek of Athens, in which the people held the power , is considered the worlds first democracy. Considering that Athens was a slave-owning society, its form of democracy was much different than the democratic governments of today.
The South And The House Go Republican
I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come, President Johnson said shortly after signing the Civil Rights Act, according to his aide . And indeed, Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican specifically for this reason.
Yet party loyalties take a long time to shake off, and the shift of white Southerners from being solid Democrats to solid Republicans was in reality more gradual.
And while race played an important role in this shift, other issues played roles too. White evangelical Christians became newly mobilized to oppose abortion and take stands on other culture war issues, and felt more at home with the conservative party. There was that suspicion of big government and lack of union organization that permeated the region. And talented politicians like Ronald Reagan promised to defend traditional values.
Still, Democrats continued to maintain control of the House of Representatives for some time, in large part because of continued support from Southerners, as shown in this map by Jonathan Davis at Arizona State University. But in 1994, the revolution finally arrived, as Republicans took the House for the first time since 1955. And many of the crucial pickups that made that possible came in the South.
Understanding The Basics: How The Parties Changed General Us Party History And Why The Big Switch Isnt A Myth
Above we did an introduction, this next section takes a very general look at how the major parties changed and how factions changed parties.
To sum things up before we get started discussing specific switches, both major U.S. parties used to have notable progressive socially liberal left-wing and socially conservative right-wing , and now they dont.
Originally, like today, one party was for big government and one party was for small government .
However, unlike today, party lines were originally drawn over elitism and populism and preferred government type more than by the left-right social issues that define the parties today, as the namesake of the parties themselves imply .
In those days both parties had progressive and conservative wings, but the Southern Anti-Federalist, Democratic-Republican, and then Democratic Party was populist and favored small government, and the Northern Federalist, Whig, and then Republican Party was elite and favored bigger central government.
However, from the lines drawn during the Civil War, to Bryan in the Gilded Age, to Teddy Roosevelt leaving the Republican Party to form the Progressive Party in 1912, to FDRs New Deal, to LBJs Civil Rights, to the Clinton and Bush era, the above became less and less true.
Instead, today the parties are polarized by left-right social issues, and each party has a notable populist and elitist wing.