We must stop the revisionist history
To the editor:
I am writing because I once gave our president the benefit of the doubt and started considering his ideas. After awhile, I no longer will consider the ideas of the conservative right in America because they don’t seem to own their extremes once their ideology goes out of hand. I left the left because I didn’t like their version of identity politics, which is the social justice warrior concept of intersectionality. Once I joined the conservative right, they were pushing identity politics too, except their version of the nationalistic concept of “America First.”
Identity politics on the right, consisting of nationalism is why denial is their main tool to push a narrative that the right wing, conservative Trump Train is perfect. I am referring to the belief that the Democratic Party is still the party of slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK and segregation and the Republican Party is still the party of Civil Rights. That is misinformation that the right pushes today. In reality, there was a massive switch in the parties, it took time, but most importantly it happened.
When the Democratic Party first originated in 1829, it was the “America First Party” and the party of “states’ rights.” Democratic President Andrew Jackson wanted to do away with national banking and opposed tariffs to fund internal improvements. They pushed the concept of “manifest destiny,” which meant that the white race was entitled to dominate the entire North American continent. This led to annexing the West Coast under Democratic President James K. Polk and a Mexican War over the Southwest and Rocky Mountain areas. These policies were based on ethno-nationalism, an extreme version of the far right ideology of nationalism. This ideology was used to justify slavery that existed in the South, which southern Democrats supported.
The original GOP when it was founded in 1854 was the party of “big government.” Under the first Republican President Abraham Lincoln, he prohibited southern states from secceeding due to wanting to keep slavery. That would be referred to neo-Confederates as a “government overreach.” Lincoln also implemented social welfare programs like the Homestead Act and re-established national banking.
Fast forward to the very beginning of the 1900s, you had the Republican President Teddy Roosevelt who compares to Bernie Sanders considering that he implemented environmental policies, pushed for an inheritance tax, advocated for worker’s compensation, pushed policies that urged monopolistic powers like that of the railroads and was in favor of increases in wages for workers. These are all things the modern GOP would be against.
The majority of African Americans belonged the Republican Party because they looked to Lincoln and the GOP as the bringers of their freedom. This started to change when Democratic President FDR put into place the New Deal, which benefited poor minority communities, and that began the exodus of the majority of African Americans becoming Democrats. The majority of southern whites remained Democrats, too, oddly until the presidencies of JFK and Lyndon Johnson.
Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower implemted policy that the modern GOP would be against, too. He made cuts to defense spending to fund the interstate highway system. The top marginal tax rate was 90% and the corporate tax rate was 52% too. Under his presidency, health care was cheap, tuition for four years of college was cheap, the average working class employee had stellar pensions and union bargaining power was high.
Democrats JFK and LBJ were the final straws for southern white Democrats. The Civil Rights Act was more of a regional issue at the time than partisan issue considering that the majority of southerners from both parties opposed it, and the majority of northerners from both parties favored it. Democratic President JFK was a firm ally of the Civil Rights Movement and signed an executive order establishing affirmative action. Eventually Democratic President LBJ signed the The Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
LBJ’s opponent in the 1964 election, Republican Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and invented the “Southern Strategy.” He did this because he felt that the Republican Party couldn’t win a presidential election by appealing to the better nature of the country, they could only do so by appealing to the worst.
Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan incorporated it into their presidencies. They pushed the identity politics of “welfare queen” and “law and order,” too. How could the parties have never changed ideologies if one of the southern Democrats who filibustered the Civil Rights Act, Strom Thurmond, became a Republican and remained in office as recent as 2003?
When people on the right claim the British Empire was a humane one, that the alt-right is closer to the progressive left than the conservative right, that the KKK were left wing democrats and that Hitler was a left-wing socialist, they are denying the extreme nature of their nationalistic tendencies which can turn into. They do this so that way they can continue their identity politics.