Question: Which political party brought an end to slavery? If you said “the Democratic Party,” you’d be wrong. Question: To which party did John Wilkes Booth belong? If you said “the Republican Party,” you’d be wrong. Question: Which party supported civil rights legislation? If you said “the Democratic Party,” you’d again be wrong. Let’s talk about it – the inconvenient truth for the Democratic Party.
The fact is, since its founding in 1829, the Democratic Party has opposed every major civil rights legislation, and has a long history of discrimination. The Democratic Party defended slavery, started the Civil War, opposed Reconstruction, founded the Ku Klux Klan, imposed segregation, and fought against the civil rights acts of the 1950s and 1960s.
In contrast, the Republican Party was founded as an anti-slavery party in 1854. Its mission was to stop the spread of slavery into the new western territories. They were dealt a blow with the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the Supreme Court found that slaves weren’t citizens, but were property. The seven justices who ruled for slavery were all Democrats; the two in opposition were both Republicans.
John Wilkes Booth, a Democrat, assassinated President Lincoln. Then the Democratic Party opposed the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery), the 14th Amendment (giving blacks citizenry), and the 15th Amendment (giving blacks the right to vote). All three amendments passed because of strong Republican support.
The Ku Klux Klan was founded by Democrat Nathan Bedford Forrest. Historian Eric Foner – himself a Democrat – wrote, “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party.”
It was the Democrats who opposed civil rights legislation in 1964. Eighty percent of Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act, while less than 70 percent of Democrats did. Democratic senators filibustered the bill for 75 days, until Republicans mustered the votes to break the logjam.
Let’s carry this forward to 2017. Black unemployment is less under President Trump than it was at any point in President Obama’s eight years. The number of food stamp recipients is down, while black home ownership is up. Republicans support school choice, which would free inner city blacks from the failing schools in so many of their neighborhoods. Democrats oppose school choice.
Let’s review. It was Republicans who freed slaves, gave them citizenship, gave them the right to vote, and passed the Civil Rights Act – against Democratic opposition in each case. It is under Republican leadership that black unemployment has dropped and home ownership is up.
For the Democratic Party, none of this is convenient. But it’s still the truth.