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June 08, 2004

Republican Antipathy to Civil Rights

In domestic American political talk, it is a token of faith that the GOP is hostile to non-whites and against Civil Rights in general. There are many reasons for this talk, but I won't go into them at length. Most of them focus on the 'Southern Strategy' and I want to get a little bit closer to that logic.

I can't recall when I first heard about Glenn Loury, but it was probably back in the early 80s when he was cited as one of the first black neocons. I didn't pay much attention to, nor was I familiar with his work, but I did know that he was a member of the Heritage Foundation. He famously quit that organization upon the publication of Dinesh DSouza's 'The End of Racism' a book with with Loury has serious questions along with many other Americans. In particular it was DSousa's failure to examine the history of the Republicans' race baiting tactics in the South that angered Loury. The details of this controversy are somewhere.

In my own anti-racist activism it was precisely this kind of disrespect from both parties that I sought to highlight. My own Race Man's Home Companion stands as an attempt to dig below the politics of identity to the common values of Americans of all races who would, properly informed, act in concert to remove racism from American politics. I believe I found a solution but it is a situation many consider not to be a problem. In light of that, I have begun to think of American politics in terms of the amount of racism inherent in its states of equilibrium. There is a certain amount of lip service required of both parties which pacifies the majority of Americans. It is only when events overtake the casual discussions of race that the party figures (and chatting classes) feel motivated to debate with some force.

It is because I recognize those tipping points that I feel that both parties must be racially integrated. Whether or not people believe it, Loury's resignation represented a stinging reproach to conservatives. After all, his academic credentials far outstrip those of the young D'Souza, and if after all you need credibility on economic issues a Loury is worth several D'Souzas. Be that as it may, politics is politics and that means sentiment often trumps reason. But when it does and policy is made the arguments on both sides are well worth examining.

It was in the spirit of tipping points and political argument that I have decided to examine the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I will refer to it in this light as HR7152 or 7152 (which is, if you ask me, a very l33t tag). It is when you begin talking about HR7152 that you must inevitably confront the work of Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Republican who famously said that Civil Rights guarantees was 'an idea whose time had come'.

Joining the Republican party has been a salutory experience for me because it has forced me to face doubt, cynicism and hostility. And in meeting those critics I have refined my understanding of my own ideas as well as the merit of those opposing mine. One of the arguments I have found particularly useful in countering much kneejerk opposition is the acknowledgement of bipartisanship. If Republicans were all racist, why would they ever vote for things that benefitted blacks. I can already hear "they don't". But instead of going into all of the other bills which have become law that benefit African Americans I think the point is best made by the granddaddy HR7152. To that end I have established as a permanent part of my website, artifacts of that historic Congressional session.

At the Free Republic, I found these words a challenge to conventional wisdom. There was just enough information to get me started.

Mindful of how Democrat opposition had forced the Republicans to weaken their 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts, President Johnson warned Democrats in Congress that this time it was all or nothing. To ensure support from Republicans, he had to promise them that he would not accept any weakening of the bill and also that he would publicly credit our Party for its role in securing congressional approval. Johnson played no direct role in the legislative fight, so that it would not be perceived as a partisan struggle. There was no doubt that the House of Representatives would pass the bill.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Everett Dirksen had little trouble rounding up the votes of most Republicans, and former presidential candidate Richard Nixon also lobbied hard for the bill. Senate Majority Leader Michael Mansfield and Senator Hubert Humphrey led the Democrat drive for passage, while the chief opponents were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, of later Watergate fame, Albert Gore Sr., and Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd, a former Klansman whom Democrats still call "the conscience of the Senate", filibustered against the civil rights bill for fourteen straight hours before the final vote.

The House of Representatives passed the bill by 289 to 124, a vote in which 80% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats voted yes.

The Senate vote was 73 to 27, with 21 Democrats and only 6 Republicans voting no.

Check out the site. I'll continue with more later.

Posted by mbowen at June 8, 2004 04:39 PM

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Tracked on June 10, 2004 10:37 PM


This is absolutely correct. Take a look at V.O. Key's SOUTHERN POLITICS if you get the opportunity. In the thirties up until the sixties the most progressive party in the south was the Republican Party. The question though...is what happens NEXT? Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond are both Democrats when the bill is passed.

What do they finish as? Your central argument about the necessity of integrating both parties is right as it always was. But the details have to be right as well.

Posted by: Lester Spence at June 8, 2004 09:36 PM

This is a key reason why, even though I agree with 65% of Republican ideology, I hesitate to register as a Republican (but I ain't a Democrat either). When even Glenn Loury, Robert Woodson, and J.C. Watts grow exasperated by their party peers, then I know it ain't for me. That stuff doesn't get overlooked by black folks either, and is often brought up in discussions about Republican politics.

One thing that I've never understood is that the moderate Republicans appear to be under siege right now. This would not be so if they made a serious effort to draw in black and Hispanic folks.

Posted by: shay at June 8, 2004 10:10 PM

Well I think the Republicans who are responsible for the current tilt of the party can be identified and ultimately isolated. But so long as African Americans reject all Republicans whole cloth, then they won't be able to tell the good from the bad. Right now a whole lot of blackfolks are saying to the GOP, 'you all look alike', even in the face of Condi and Colin.

I think it's clear today that Goldwater is part of the current trend. But as I look at California Republican politics, what I see is that the trend is reversing. That is to say that in the wake of Pete Wilson, both Mayor Riordan and Arnold Schwartzeneggar are steps in the moderate direction.

What I originally wanted to do was to get the names of the Republicans who voted for 7152, but you have to pay for that kind of detail. Still, it makes sense to identify the strands.

Today, clearly the radical Republicans are of the ilk of Grover Norquist, whereas Mark Racicot is actively involved in outreach to blackfolks. Thursday evening, I'm going to meet with one of Schwartzeneggar's staffers. Today, most everyone agrees that GWBush isn't half the man Reagan was.

I am confident that as we mill through, we'll find not only Republicans who are not hostile but are actually embracing and champions of most things middleclass blackfolks want politically.

Posted by: Cobb at June 8, 2004 11:45 PM

What the Free Republic author wrote about the Voting Rights Act's votes is correct. However, he or she conspicuously fails to note that many of those Dixiecrats (Southern Democrats) who voted against the Act later switched to the Republican Party and some form its backbone today.

Posted by: shay at June 9, 2004 12:32 AM

That's a bold claim without specifics, and it's the specifics I'm after. Name names. Trent Lott we know, who else? Let's have a roll call.

Also as regards tipping points, consider this note:

Posted by: cobb at June 9, 2004 07:16 AM

black people have never had a problem with voting republican in state elections. never.

michigan's john engler who was positively draconian pulled in at least 30% of the black vote in the election before last.

new jersey's christine todd whitman pulled similar numbers.

but legislators are a different story.

Posted by: Lester Spence at June 9, 2004 07:35 AM

The argument that the republican stance on HR7152 speaks well of their bipartisanship (or, at least, sinks the thought of their antipathy toward civil rights) is something of a straw man. Your Free Republic excerpt even more so.

The Democratic and Republican parties were very different then than they are today. The "Dixiecrats" were the ones who kept torpedoeing civil rights legislation of any sort. These were democratic party members mainly because the memory of reconstruction was still quite fresh (especially in the 40s and 50s). As this memory faded (especially in the 70s and 80s) they gradually moved to the "other" party, profoundly changing its makeup. It can be argued that this migration marked the point when the Republican party leadership was "highjacked" by reactionaries and fundamentalists, creating its modern perception as racist and/or anti-civil rights.

Using pre-70s republican attitudes to help explain away post-80s republican words is, in my opinion, a weaker argument than it would at first appear. It would be much better, in my opinion, to note the current perception of Republicans is the result of a migration of a-political hate, an infestation of attitudes and ideas if you will, that in fact originated in the heart of the Democratic party's original power base.

Posted by: Scott at June 9, 2004 09:55 AM

That there is a now a group of irrational haters nested in the bowels of the republican party seems beyond dispute. My experience of conservative politics in Kansas, Missouri, and among academics indicates quite clearly that dixiecrats have not and do not hold a monopoly on hate.

Frankly, I'm just as concerned about the Birch Society, Cato Institute strain of social darwinian praxis that exerts a possibly stronger influence than anything the former dixiecrats could muster.

A dixiecrat you can see coming miles and miles away. A Spencerian Cato-ite can operationalize antipathy far more destructively, institutionally and infrastructurally, effecting far more of the subjects of his scorn - and all the while smiling in their faces and paying lip service to free and fair markets. This is a technique that the Koch brothers of Wichita KS, founders and funders of Cato and principles in Koch Industries - have absolutely perfected.

Posted by: xavier moon at June 9, 2004 10:56 AM

The pre 70s Republicans are not a template for adherance, rather a demonstrable crack in the stereotype. It is absolutely true that the parties change. The question is, are African Americans initiating any of that change? The answer I keep hearing is 'but look what they did to my daddy'. That's understandable but I know for most of us that's a metaphorical daddy.

My point is not to look at Republicans past, nor Republicans present so much as Republicans yet to come. And I am not so willing to suggest that African Americans cannot and will not make an impact on the part in the future.

If I told you 15 years ago that Ralph Reed and Newt Gingrich would be completely out of power, you would have freaked. If I told you Halle Berry would win an Oscar, you wouldn't have believed me.

Over time, given sufficient pressure and participation the Republican party will yeild to African American influence. History is my guide. There has never been any part of this society that hasn't.

I know everyday ordinary black golfers. You stayed away from all the courses until Tiger won the Masters. Who knows more about golf?

Posted by: Cobb at June 9, 2004 11:26 AM

Let me add one more thing. What kills me is that so many black commentators keep ranting about the influence of Hispanics on politics, when it is clear beyond a doubt that Hispanic clout is only a fraction of black clout. This was proven when Villaraigosa and Bustamante failed in California. Hispanic political organizations simply are not as mature and sophisticated as what blacks have in place. That may change, but its the motion that makes the difference. Black Democrats are standing still, that's why they are nervous. They have been singularly unable to articulate a new vision since the death of the Rainbow Coalition. That's a problem.

Posted by: Cobb at June 9, 2004 11:31 AM

"Hispanic political organizations simply are not as mature and sophisticated as what blacks have in place."

In my experience working in SoCal politics, the exact opposite is true. Latino political organizations are highly mature and sophisticated. Much more sophiticated than I have seen among Africna American ones which seem to have calcified in the comfort of the status quo. The reason that Latinos don't have more clout is voter participation. Once that hurdle is jumped look out. Of course, they could make the same mistake as blacks and become complacent

Posted by: walter at June 9, 2004 12:00 PM

I wrote about the issue of liberal lies about conservatives in a piece that was linked to from BlackElectorate. It generated a lot of hate mail from black liberals. Included in the discussion was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jim Crow laws and Reconstruction. The article is called "Why Courting the Black Vote Won't Work." If you google it with quotation marks, it should pop up.

One of the best things that happened when I became conservative is that I actually began to use my brain, my criticial thinking skills, to examine controversial issues for myself. Rather than merely persuading someone to my side, I just want them to think about what they believe and why.

Posted by: La Shawn Barber at June 9, 2004 12:52 PM

It will be a long time before I seriously consider the GOP. There are a lot of historical reasons and idealogical differences. But I am willing to be persuaded on those but the main reason is this. I don't feel the GOP really wants to deal with ME. Glenn Loury, Robert Woodson, and J.C. Watts were mentioned, and they ALL left. These guys where true believers but at the end of the day, (and I am only giving opinion here) the GOP only needed them for window dressing. And that is because as the "Dixie-crats" are still running the show, at least this is my perception.

Posted by: BH at June 9, 2004 02:22 PM

LaShawn I had a discussion with one of my fraternity brothers about the iraq occupation. He argued that much of the press on Bush was filled with "liberal lies." I like my brother a lot. He's a hard worker, and very dilligent.

But you know what? There really isn't a shred of truth in any of his objective statements.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. The Republican Party SHOULD be integrated. I applaud Michael for leading the way.

But you've got to do a whole lot of work to convince me that you're worth counting on in this effort. Your arguments are specious, your understanding of history is severely truncated. We don't really need black republicans in this battle. What we really need are Republican blacks.

Posted by: lks at June 9, 2004 02:51 PM

Perhaps useful: A copy of "About Face," Adam Shatz's January 2002 profile of Glenn Loury from the New York Times

Posted by: George at June 9, 2004 08:50 PM

So where did Loury end up? Not -- and this is what makes him distinctive -- as a traditional liberal. Despite his new appreciation of racial solidarity, Loury remains fiercely independent. His outlook today is an unclassifiable, pragmatic blend of entrepreneurialism, black nationalism, Christian faith and social egalitarianism.

... sounding strangely familiar.

Posted by: George at June 9, 2004 10:50 PM

what i don't like about the piece, or loury's conversion for that matter, is that it appears to be focused on the same dynamic that led him out of the liberal bag in the first place--individual psychological transformation. so it isn't reason that causes him to leave--I thought about my arguments, thought about people who supported my arguments, realized that my arguments were wrong and most of my supporters were racist SO I CHANGED MY MIND. it is rather--i've been psychologically scarred and in dealing with my personal issues i've come to realize that my ideas were a byproduct of my issues.

this troubles me.

Posted by: lks at June 10, 2004 06:35 AM


"But you've got to do a whole lot of work to convince me that you're worth counting on in this effort. Your arguments are specious, your understanding of history is severely truncated. We don't really need black republicans in this battle. What we really need are Republican blacks."

You're making big assertions that you need to back up. First of all, I'm not trying to convince you or anyone else of anything. I'm just telling it as I observe it, and you use your own brain to make the decision yourself. Second, point out one of my "specious arguments" and let's talk about it. And clarify why you believe my knowledge of history is "truncated."

I can't wait for my edification.

Posted by: La Shawn Barber at June 10, 2004 06:41 AM

Good stuff on Loury (haven't finished the piece but I'm sure I read it before) True it sounds very much like he arrogantly bulled his way into a corner and now is trying to pick up the pieces. What it gains him to make friends with Jackson is unclear, but my guess is that Loury wants to see himself as making a visible contribution to black society through his person and work. Whereas Orlando Patterson and Walter Williams don't seem to have the existential problems bestting Loury. I wonder how it is socially for Sowell and whatshisass.. er Shelby Steele out at Hoover.

Loury may have some demons to extinguish in his head, but something about the conversation I had yesterday leads me to believe that all of these think tankers are walking very narrow lines with nothing but grant money and ideological goodwill. Their ideas are too big for their britches and they have to live on somebody else's property in order to keep crowing. (Dare I say somebody else's plantation?)

I think this is the sizeable reason that many big black dogs hang with Democrats - for the sake of safety and comfort, even if that comes at the expense of true independence and practical benefit to the masses they purport to serve. Nobody is going to tar and feather Julian Bond (except us right wing wackos, who have yet to prove our home with Republicans is as comfy and safe as their home with the Dems).

This is the crux of the problem BH speaks of above. Watts, Loury and Woodson are not made at home, what chance is there for little old me?

But is it really all about comfort and safety?

Posted by: Cobb at June 10, 2004 09:44 AM

It has always confounded me how many Black Americans in their personal life are quite conservative and extol the virtues of self reliance, yet, in their political existence they continue to place their loyalty in an organization that, in many ways, appreciates them not as individuals but for their part as a monolithic block. While I can see the effects historical feelings and events such as the Dixicrat realignment have played on perception of the Republican party, it seems to me a very significant reason for the general mistrust evidenced can be traced to concerted efforts on behalf of those with a vested interest in perpetuating the sentiment. Am I the only one who remembers the NAACP adds run extensively in Texas during the 2000 election depicting slaves in chains with words to the effect of "He didn't have a choice. You do."

I'm not a die hard Republican, but after the 2000 election I came to the conclusion that the future of the party lay in recasting it not as the party of the rich man, but as the party of opportunity. Actively working for inclusiveness in welcoming all Americans who just want the chance to work hard and succeed. Of everything I hoped to see out of Bush, that is the one area I have been most disappointed. Granted, he's been busy, but I still think they could have put more conscious thought into opening up the party and making it a more inviting place for all people of all colors.

Posted by: submandave at June 10, 2004 07:06 PM

sud, it isn't perceptions...or elite manipulation that causes the majority of blacks to support the democratic party. it is the effect of lived public policy. to assume otherwise is to assume that blacks are extremely gullible when all the evidence i'm aware of says the exact opposite.

la shawn, check out visioncircle.org.

Posted by: lks at June 10, 2004 10:36 PM

lks, has it correct. It is highly patronizing and insulting to all blacks to say they are merely Democrats because they are duped and manipulated by Jackson and the NAACP or "limousine liberals" into voting Democratic. Just as it is insulting to say a black man or woman is a sell-out for supportitng Bush. It is the lived experience. My grandmother was a Democrat becuase of Truman, FDR, & JFK. Her words to me on my first election day were "vote straight Democrat". I didn't, I cast one vote for a Republican Supreme Court Justice (in Texas they are popularly elected) I regret that vote to this day.

The reason Mrs Cole, as culturally conservativeas she was, identified with the Democrat are not the same reasons I am one today. Her life experience between the years 1910 and 1991 are so far removed from mine that it's almost incomprehensible. I have my reason and they are mine alone. Possibly the same reasons Cobb is a Republican.

The way I see it, many blacks, who are on the whole extremely conservative, do not vote Republican is because their conservatism is highly regulated by a deep sense of commitment and compassion for their fellow man. Probably more than any other group, Black people practice the teachings of Jesus in showing compassion for their neighbor. They know that that compassion goes further than a $300 early tax rebate. No matter what their tagline says, that's not how the Republican Party markets itself or is perceived. Until they are seen as less the party of me and more the party of we, they will never make inroads into the black vote

Posted by: walter at June 11, 2004 01:07 AM

Funny you should mention it. Last night when I attended the Republican club meeting, I was the only one who said the word 'business' in the whole period.

Posted by: Cobb at June 11, 2004 07:14 AM

Ilks and Walter: It certainly wasn't my intent to imply that "all blacks ... are merely Democrats because they are duped ... into voting Democratic" and tried (apparently unsuccessfully) to not offer that impression. It is clear to me, however, that the effects of such concerted efforts cannot be completely dismissed. Just as the "Fear of a Black Planet" tactic has sometimes (to my great shame) been used to solidify support among White voting groups, it seems a result of the strong Democrat base present in Black communities that the impression of Republicans as being an "outside group" or "other" is easier to enhance. It is only human nature to instictively place greater trust and confidence in those with whom we share commonalities and with whom we are familiar. "Better the devil I know" and such. If I chose my words poorly and offered offense I am sincerely sorry, as that was not my intent.

I can appreciate your coment, Walter, about the Republican party being seen as "the party of me and [not] the party of we". From my more libertarian position, I see the empowerment of "me" as a means to better allow a free choice about who the "we" are for that individual. I often think that many liberals feel that without the government to keep watch over the people they will degenerate into petty, uncaring, selfish hermits. I, however, feel that people choose to join groups and form societies because that is the nature of man. The biological ascendancy of the human race is entirely a result of this tendency to band together. Imparting greater freedoms to the individual (including financial freedoms) simply allows people to more freely associate. After all, without a buch of individual "me" there is no "we".

Posted by: submandave at June 11, 2004 10:43 AM


My duped comments were aimed not so much at you personally but at those Republicans and so-called conservatives who throw that line around. They make this claim not because of any serious analysis of influences on voting behaviors, but as a way to de-legitimize the black, and other minority, vote. Dont worry about offending me. Even if you had meant offense, my skin is not so thin as that.

I do want to speak to your comments on the party of we vs. party of me. I agree in many ways when you state, I see the empowerment of "me" as a means to better allow a free choice about who the "we" are for that individual, and we may share some of the same libertarian values. I see myself as a libertarian, a left libertarian but a definite libertarian. Although I think they take it too far, I even share the Objectivist view on the importance of selfishness. If my primary motivation isnt providing and caring for my immediate family, and myself what right do I have to care and feed others? It is the height of hypocrisy. To me my liberalism is all about the liberty and freedom to be selfish but I also realize that my mere presence these 34 years in the United States is an affirmation by default of the social contract created by the Founders. I affirm that contract, and give up s little liberty, because my knowledge of history is not so truncated that I dont know what the alternative holds.

All governments are corrupt, collectivist and capable of tyranny, but I also know that mankind created civil society, and thus governments, out of necessity. As I have chosen to live under that contract called the US Constitution, I am duty bound to support it in many ways and that includes taxes. I also think that means some amount of aid to those who are less fortunate, incapacitated, and the elderly. Now, I dont for example believe in some contemporary liberal ideas. For example, I do not believe Americans have a right to heath care but I do believe that we need a universal healthcare systen in this country. In the long run it will make us a stronger nation.

This is where I think we honestly diverge in viewpoints.

In my view, taken from the Enlightenment philosophers, man created societies for two distinct reasons: to protect himself from the state of nature and the state of war (the cruelty of his fellow man). Unlike you, I think mans nature is to flee association with those who are unfamiliar (outside the clan). Societies and civilizations developed because man was compelled by those two unpredictable and deadly states to band together, not because he wanted was naturally inclined to do so. The rewards of civilization, the ascendancy that you speak of, are great and varied, but they are essentially beneficent results, not primary reasons for banding together.

Posted by: walter at June 11, 2004 01:31 PM

"...For example, I do not believe Americans have a right to heath care but I do believe that we need a universal healthcare systen in this country. In the long run it will make us a stronger nation..."

But who pays? Simple fact is that some of us don't take as good care of ourselves as others do. Some of us require more healthcare service than others. Part of the difference is in our genes, part is behavioral.

To the extent the difference is hereditary, I can understand sharing the burden. But the dude who brings it on himself, from barehead motorcycle riding to ingesting toxic substances, deserves to pay his own freight, or else suffer unaided. It's Darwinian, isn't it, and who are we to interfere with natural selection?

Posted by: True_Liberal at June 11, 2004 06:04 PM

but if the bottom line is still who pays, we pay a lot more in the latter case don't we? so are you saying that you'd rather have a darwinian system that results in higher costs to you as the consumer, than a system that results in lower costs?

Posted by: lks at June 12, 2004 01:48 PM

Who pays? We all pay already. I don't have time to find the stats but you would be surprised what we could save. On a level I agreew ith you about individuals responsibilityt o their own health. If one is too dumb to stop drinking and gets liver disease should I pay for that? Well, that's part of the social contract I spoke of. We are all in this together. I think the question above is as irrelevant as asking why should I pay for the LAPD to investigate a burglary becasue the homeowner wasn't smart enough to pay for a security system. No matter how much it costs, its good to have publicly funded fire and police. I would say the same goes for a some sort of system that at least provides a minimum of healthcare to all.

Posted by: walter at June 12, 2004 02:47 PM

"...If one is too dumb to stop drinking and gets liver disease should I pay for that? Well, that's part of the social contract I spoke of. We are all in this together. I think the question above is as irrelevant as asking why should I pay for the LAPD to investigate a burglary becasue the homeowner wasn't smart enough to pay for a security system..."

The social contract that I'm aware of -- my contract with my government -- is the Constitution. It is not a Robin Hood document. If a dude is unable to keep from drinking himself to death, why should my hard-earned dollars be forcibly extracted from me to keep him alive, and for what purpose?

And the LAPD investigates a crime for the purpose of BRINGING THE PERP TO JUSTICE. The PD CANNOT prevent all crime (or even a significant percentage). It's the citizen's job to protect his own life and assets; To think otherwise is delusional.

Ergo, the Second Amendment.

Posted by: True_Liberal at June 13, 2004 06:45 AM

"...No matter how much it costs, its good to have publicly funded fire and police. I would say the same goes for a some sort of system that at least provides a minimum of healthcare to all."

Spoken like a true Socialist. Get over the "blank check" attitude.

Posted by: True_Liberal at June 13, 2004 06:48 AM

Get over the stupid attacks. Get over the uncontolable desire to pigeon hole. Most people's personal ideas and beliefs are a lot more complicated and nuanced than the boring old left/right, socialist/capitalist meme. If that's the game you wish to play then you I will do my best to ignore you.

Posted by: walter at June 13, 2004 01:01 PM

Your words, not mine:
"...No matter how much it costs..."

Posted by: True_Liberal at June 14, 2004 04:56 AM

Posted by: link- at August 19, 2004 10:25 AM