Those like Dinesh D’Souza, Ted Cruz, Will Ricciardella, Donald Trump, Townhall, The National Review, and many other conservative outlets have been pushing this comically inaccurate portrayal of history, trying to align modern Democrats with the KKK and Jim Crow. Certainly, the party called the Democrats in the 1800’s was the racist party that brought Jim Crow. But that was the conservative party of the day. They wanted to maintain the “traditional” way of life, of economics, and they romanticized the rural over the urban. Even complaining about federal overreach (while paradoxically supporting it in many areas) was a cornerstone of their ideology.
Promulgator in-chief of the history revision
The irony is President Trump has joined in this fallacious method to attack the Democrats, despite the fact that “president Donald Trump has placed a painting of [founding Democrat] President Andrew Jackson in his Oval Office, in a symbolic affirmation of the… similarities between the newly elected president and the former chief executive.”
So Trump preferred the Democrats before the switch, when they were still the party of racism?
And yes, there was a switch. If you research the respective actions, statements, and platforms of the various parties and their representatives over time, the “switch” of the Republican and Democratic parties on the majority of their philosophies from the 1800’s to now is impossible for any sane person to deny. The Democratic party of the Jim Crow era was on the political Right, where the conservatives resided. Indeed, the person Right-wingers see as the Leftist king, Karl Marx, was a firm supporter of the North over the Confederacy.
“The workingmen of Europe,” continued Karl Marx, felt a kinship with Abraham Lincoln, “the single-minded son of the working class. . . . As the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American anti-slavery war will do for the working classes.”Karl Marx as quoted by historian James McPherson
The Racists of Today
In modern America, racists and white supremacists are almost exculsively aligned with the Republican Party in opposition to the Democratic Party or the “Left” in general.
Today’s KKK and all of the most prolific white supremacy sources, including the Daily Stormer, Stormfront.org, the American Nazi Party [a][b][c], David Duke, and the white nationalist coiner of the term “Alt Right,” Richard Spencer [a][b – video][c], all universally attack all modern Democrats, and support almost exclusively modern Republicans, and are usually supporters of Trump. So at the very least, the white supremacists have certainly switched which party they support.
Jeff Schoep was, until February 28, 2019, the leader of the American neo-Nazi movement, and he could hardly be mistaken for a leftist. He’s anti-immigrant, anti-Marxist, anti-Feminism, pro-Tradition, and more. Even the topics where he deviates slightly from the common conservative position, he puts a distinctly Right-wing spin on it.
- On universal healthcare, he says “our approach would differ from the weak kneed and outright criminal proposals being put forth by… ‘leaders’ that seek only to maintain their control over the continued Marxist redistribution of wealth in this nation as they continue to lead the Nation into a Globalist system that will ultimately destroy not only our National Sovereignty but the White majority in this nation.”
- On illegal immigration, “Consider this a call to action, a call to duty, a final call to stand up and defend your Nation against those who would see us demoralized, defeated and our way of life decimated in favor of cheap illegal immigrant labor. Illegal immigration is only one of the problems our Nation faces, but I consider it our Achilles heel regarding the current state of our Nation.”
David Duke is a white supremacist and former Grand Dragon of the KKK. Duke is also a holocaust denier, and a believer in a Jewish conspiracy against Trump and white people. Like Richard Spencer, he considers himself a “white nationalist,” and like Spencer, he is a huge fan of Trump. During the election he said “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.” He served in the Louisiana House as a Republican in 1989, and in his most recent campaign he ran for US Senate as a Republican in 2016. Duke even demonstrates the tail end of “the switch” of the ideals of the two parties, as he ran as a Democrat in his pre-89 years. As his official website lays out his positions, he clearly aligns drastically less with the Democratic platform than Republican.
Former America Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones in 2018 ran as a Republican in an Illinois congressional race. Indeed from 1984 to date he has run as a Republican. His platform positions certainly couldn’t be construed as liberal or Democrat.
At the very least, the white supremacists have certainly switched which party they support, and it is pretty unanimously the Republicans. This is clear and indisputable.
Comparing the positions of the parties
It is almost exclusively conservative Libertarians and Republicans who minimize the issue of slavery in the Civil War; who call Lincoln’s actions government overreach; and look fondly back on the racist old South—it is in the comment section of every Civil War post on facebook!! [a][b][c]. If the Dems are really the party of the KKK and Jim Crow in any meaningful way, it’s really strange how modern Dems hold the greatest disdain for the racist Democrat old south while modern conservatives have the most sympathy and make the most excuses for it.
The founder of the Democratic party Andrew Jackson was desperately against a national bank. Modern Dems now support the Fed while most opposition to it comes from Republicans and Libertarians, including Being Classically Liberal, Alex Jones, The Conservative Daily Post, Ron Paul, Western Journalism, and most of the rest. This position is incontestably a reversal.
Geography of the parties and ideologies
The Democratic Party dominated the rural south and promulgated a “small government” platform which southern social conservatives embraced; the Republican party was favored in the citied North and had a “big government” platform which northern progressive liberals embraced. Although, even then the “small government” southerners were hypocrites since they favored a national slave code that forced free states to accept “slave property” brought in from slave states.
Today the parties occupy the opposite territories while the ideologies, conservative/liberal, in most respects promulgate the same places. Although what happened is complex and some voter bases and factions never switched, most did. Lincoln and his Republicans were in favor of subsidies and publicly funded work projects (building of the Capitol dome, construction of the Potomac Aqueduct, telegraphs, the Transcontinental Railroad, etc.), while modern Republicans generally oppose subsidies and publicly funded work projects because it would violate their belief in a free market.
Historic Party platforms:
The 1840 Democratic party platform sounds like a manifesto for the most conservative Libertarians and Republicans of today!
- 1. Resolved, That the federal government is one of limited powers, derived solely from the constitution, and the grants of power shown therein, ought to be strictly construed by all the departments and agents of the government, and that it is inexpedient and dangerous to exercise doubtful constitutional powers. 2. Resolved, That the constitution does not confer upon the general government the power to commence and carry on, a general system of internal improvements. 3. Resolved, That the constitution does not confer authority upon the federal government, directly or indirectly, to assume the debts of the several states, contracted for local internal improvements, or other state purposes… 5. Resolved, That it is the duty of every branch of the government, to enforce and practice the most rigid economy, in conducting our public affairs, and that no more revenue ought to be raised, than is required to defray the necessary expenses of the government. 6. Resolved, That congress has no power to charter a national bank; that we believe such an institution one of deadly hostility to the best interests of the country, dangerous to our republican institutions and the liberties of the people… 7. Resolved, That congress has no power, under the constitution, to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states, and that such states are the sole and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own affairs…
The Democratic platform of 1876 sang the same states rights and small government tune while throwing in complaints about northern Republican carpetbaggers (the same carpetbaggers conservatives complain about on Facebook today).
- Reform is necessary… [to save the country] from a corrupt centralism which, after inflicting upon ten States the rapacity of carpet-bag tyrannies, has honeycombed the offices of the Federal Government itself with incapacity, waste and fraud… We denounce the improvidence which… has taken from the people in Federal taxes thirteen times the whole amount of the legal-tender notes and squandered four times their sum in useless expense… Reform is necessary to put a stop to the profligate waste of public lands [a common complaint of modern conservatives] and their diversion from actual settlers by the party in power, which has squandered two hundred millions of acres upon railroads alone, and out of more than thrice that aggregate has disposed of less than a sixth directly to the tillers of the soil.
There was also in the same year the argument of religion and public schools.
- The Democrats thought it should be left up to the states, and the Republicans supported a federally enforced amendment protecting the separation of church and state on the topic. The Dems said “[the Republicans] would enkindle sectarian strife in respect to the public schools, of which the establishment and support belong exclusively to the several States,” whereas the Republicans wanted “an amendment to the constitution of the United States, forbidding the application of any public funds or property for the benefit of any school or institution under sectarian control.” Modern theocratic Republicans would have screamed bloody murder.
Women’s rights? Again, the Republicans of 1876 were more akin to modern Democrats than modern Republicans.
- 12. The Republican party recognizes with approval the substantial advances recently made toward the establishment of equal rights for women, by the many important amendments effected by Republican legislatures in the laws which concern the personal and property relations of wives, mothers, and widows, and by the appointment and election of women to the superintendence of education, charities, and other public trusts. The honest demands of this class of citizens for additional rights, privileges, and immunities should be treated with respectful consideration.
Signal of the Switch.
The most obvious sign that the switch was in full swing was when the two-term Republican president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt ran for a third term via his newly created Progressive Party. Roosevelt left behind a Republican party to choose William H. Taft who, according to the conservative heritage foundation, supported Conservatism. It was not, however, Roosevelt that changed but the Republican party. Indeed, throughout both of Roosevelt’s terms as a Republican, he acted in ways that modern Democrats would be envious of:
- He engaged in vigorous trust-busting,
- got coal miners more pay with fewer hours,
- prosecuted those thought to have cheated native Americans,
- and regulated railroads and affixed maximum prices they could charge.
- He also championed more regulation with the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act of 1906, which banned misleading labels and preservatives that contained harmful chemicals, and banned food and drugs that were impure or falsely labeled from being made, sold, and shipped.
- Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, which he used to proclaimed 18 new U.S. National Monuments. Additionally he established the first 51 bird reserves, four game preserves, and 150 National Forests. The area of the United States that he placed under public protection totals approximately 230,000,000 acres, enough to give modern conservatives a stroke.
After leaving the GOP, while Addressing the National Progressive Party convention, Roosevelt had interesting points to make:
- “The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly what should be said on the vital issues of the day… Our fight is a fundamental fight against both of the old corrupt party machines, for both are under the dominion of the plunder league of the professional politicians who are controlled and sustained by the great beneficiaries of privilege and reaction… Their real fight is for either, as against the Progressives. They represent the allied Reactionaries of the country… Industry, therefore, must submit to such public regulation as will make it a means of life and health, not of death or inefficiency… In no commonwealth, in no trade, and in no establishment should industry be carried on under conditions inimical to the social welfare. The abnormal, ruthless, spendthrift industry of establishment tends to drag down all to the level of the least considerate… Rational Progressives, no matter how radical, are well aware that nothing the Government can do will make some men prosper, and we heartily approve the prosperity, no matter how great, of any man, if it comes as an incident to rendering service to the community; but we wish to shape conditions so that a greater number of the small men who are decent, industrious and energetic shall be able to succeed, and so that the big man who is dishonest shall not be allowed to succeed at all… Our aim is to control business, not to strangle it… The cost of living in this country has risen during the last few years out of all proportion to the increase in the rate of most salaries and wages; the same situation confronts alike the majority of wage-workers, small business men, small professional men, the clerks, the doctors, clergymen… Now, grave though the problem is, there is one way to make it graver, and that is to deal with it insincerely, to advance false remedies, to promise the impossible. Our opponents, Republicans and Democrats alike, propose to deal with it in this way.”
His description of Democrats and Republicans indicate that epoch as the crossroads where the Republican party had drifted towards conservatism, and the Democrats had drifted towards liberalism, both to the point where they were nearly the same. Of course, we know that this trend continued until both had switched on the vast majority of their positions by the 1970’s.
Absolutely none of this is to make the counter-assertion that modern Republicans are actually the one’s who gave us Jim Crow and the KKK, or to imply that they are all racists. If the information presented proves anything it’s that making guilt-by-association arguments connecting any modern party to any 1800’s one is absolutely unreasonable. That said, social conservatism (as distinguished from fiscal conservatism) does seem to connect modern racists to 19th century racists, and help to explain why almost all modern Klansman and white nationalists vote Republican. Irrespective of that, even if the parties never switched (which they did), calling modern Democrats bad because what their ancestors did would be as fallacious as condemning all modern southerners for what their ancestors did to the slaves, or condemning all modern Americans for what their ancestors did to the native Americans. If you have a problem with what a modern group of people is doing, address that, rather than making ad hominem attacks about their ancestors.
Modern conservative Libertarians and Republicans who shout as often as they can that the “Democratic party” is responsible for Jim Crow and the KKK are leaving out key qualifying facts that drastically change the picture. They are leaving out the information intentionally to mislead, and they are further doing all of this in order to suggest that the modern Democrats are in some insidious way akin to the the racists of the 1800’s. Otherwise, what’s the point in constantly pointing it out? Moreover, much of the time, this is tied to a conspiracy where the conservatives suggest that the modern Democrats are actually intentionally keeping black people in poverty by “encouraging laziness” through the welfare safety net. A discussion can be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the “war on poverty,” or how it could be improved, but suggesting any ineffectiveness in it was deliberately put there by the conspiratorial design of Democrats is beyond delusional.
It truly is astounding to see conservatives make the mutually exclusive arguments that the Democrats are the party of the KKK and Jim Crow, while simultaneously making excuses and sympathizing with the Civil War era Democrats—the Democrats most tied to racism. It just demonstrates how narrow and deceptively calculated their (mis)understanding of history is.