Gary is an author, trial lawyer, Mequon-area resident and town of Cedarburg supervisor. He is a columnist for the News Graphic and writes for several Wisconsin area magazines and is a national columnist with The American Thinker and PJ Media. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and has three sons ages 18 to 28. Gary won Ozaukee County in his bid for the Wisconsin Assembly's 60th District in 2011, but came up just 58 votes short.
On April 10, President Barack Obama and two former Democrat presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the legacy of former President Lyndon B. Johnson at Johnson’s presidential library in Austin. Never one to let facts get in the way or pass up an opportunity to mislead his country, the president cast LBJ and the Democrat Party as champions of civil rights and said that without LBJ’s push to end legal segregation he himself wouldn’t be in the White House. Racism, political correctness, and a civil rights struggle without end are all seemingly essential to the survival of the Democrat Party. But it was Dwight D. Eisenhower and Republicans who are to be credited with the advance of modern civil rights – not LBJ and the Democrats who fought it every step of the way. In fact, the depth of Johnson’s strong opposition to civil rights is a convenient fact lost to political history. Honoring the success of civil rights in America and reminding ourselves how far we have come is important and laudable. Rewriting history is not.
As time shifts, so does the political landscape. Memories fade and history is rewritten for political purposes. It has been this way from time immemorial. The use of time is an extremely important tool for shaping public opinion. Nowhere has this been more successful than with the history of civil rights in America. The struggle for civil rights in America is storied and well-documented, yet its history is has been completely misunderstood, intentionally distorted, and rewritten for political expediency. You wouldn’t know it from watching MSNBC, but throughout history it was been the Republican Party which has spearheaded and championed civil rights for both minorities and women, while the Democrat Party has fought and obstructed efforts to end segregation and discrimination. That over 93% of blacks have allowed themselves to be co-opted by a party that has oppressed them for nearly 150 years is a political mystery even the brightest minds have yet to figure out. It’s time to change that. Cut out this article and give it to just one African-American family.
Civil War and Early Civil Rights Movement
The movement to extend equality to African-Americans began with and was the chief reason for creation of the Republican Party. Slavery ravaged the country during the 19th Century. In 1854, the Republican Party emerged for the sole purpose of combatting the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which threatened to extend slavery into the territories. With such a noble purpose, it took only six short years for it to land a president in the White House. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, ran and won election on an anti-slavery platform, and was bitterly opposed by the Democrats who supported slavery. The Civil War cost more than one million casualties and more than 350,000 deaths, but culminated in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Republican’s 1865 passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. The 13th Amendment was passed with 100% Republican support and Democrat opposition so strong a movie was made about it. In 1866, after the war, Democrats defeated a Republican “40 Acres and a Mule” proposal for distributing land to former slaves. Republicans were able to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866 – which conferred rights of citizenship on African-Americans – over the veto of Democrat President Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln after his assassination by John Wilkes Booth, a pro-slavery copperhead Democrat. In 1866, every Republican in Congress voted for and successfully passed the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing due process and equal rights to all citizens. Meanwhile, the 1868 Democratic National Convention inserted a clause in the party platform declaring the civil rights laws were "unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void."
In 1870, Hiram Revels and Jeannette Rankin, the first African American man and the first woman to be elected to Congress, were both Republicans. The Republican Party Platform of 1872 provided that "Neither the law nor its administration should admit any discrimination in respect of citizens by reason of race, creed, color or previous condition of servitude." The Democrat Platform of that same year called for “universal amnesty” for the South, and the first black Democrat wasn’t elected to Congress until 1934.
Horrible things happened in the decades following the Civil War. Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote in 1876 but struck a deal with Democrats by agreeing to withdraw federal troops from the South. The result was that many freed slaves who tried to vote in the South were beaten, jailed, and lynched by angry Democrats. Jim Crow laws passed in Democrat states and the Ku Klux Klan, established by Democrats, prevented thousands from registering. The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white. An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 white Republicans died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964. Republicans often led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws but Democrats successfully blocked those bills. The first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention.
President Hayes supported voting rights and education for young blacks throughout his term, but was opposed by Democrats. In his inaugural address, Republican President James Garfield said, "The elevation of the Negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. No thoughtful man can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions and people." The Democrat Party remained racist and still opposed to emancipation, nominating and electing dozens of Ku Klux Klan members, passed Jim Crow laws, and successfully defeated the Republican 1890 Federal Election Bill (Lodge Bill) which would have ensured fair election and guaranteed blacks the right to vote in the South. Almost all blacks and freed slaves voted Republican. During a canvassing the state of Mississippi in support of the 13th and 14th Amendments, poll workers could find only one black, out of a population of 444,000, who admitted being a Democrat. African-Americans shouldn’t be surprised that the current version of the "History" page on the Democrat Party website lists a number of accomplishments from 1792 through 1832, but then skips to the 20th Century.
By 1912, Republicans were still getting 93% of the black vote. Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, during his campaign, promised fairness and justice to blacks, but after his election he replaced 15 of 17 blacks appointed to federal jobs with whites, segregated the Civil Service, and brought Jim Crow laws to the North. The NAACP launched public protests against the Democrats. Even the Marxist black leader W.E.B Dubois, disgusted with the Democrat Party, supported Republican Charles Evans Hughes over Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Only after six years of persistent pressure by the NAACP did President Wilson finally make a short public statement against the lynching of blacks.
At the 1920 Republican National Convention, which nominated Warren Harding, all Republican state and district conventions were required to be open to blacks. The same was not true for Democrats. In fact, the Democrat National Convention of 1924 was host to one of the largest Ku Klux Klan gatherings in American history.
Blacks suffered hard during the Great Depression. Right or wrong, the Republican’s pro-business stand during the 1920’s was discredited in comparison to the government handouts and programs represented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and his message of relief. Blacks were still used to being ignored by the government and less than 25% of blacks voted for FDR in 1932. Still, FDR defeated Hoover easily after the Depression, and in his 1933 inaugural address he focused on putting people back to work – a message which resonated with blacks. The implementation of the New Deal was prejudiced, but liberals within the FDR administration worked to court the black vote and place blacks in positions of authority. In 1936, the Democratic National Convention publicly embraced African-Americans for the first time. Despite the failures of the Roosevelt Administration to actually help blacks, and wooed by the continued promise of government largesse, 76% of northern Blacks voted Democrat for the first time in history. But then again, the entire country voted overwhelmingly for FDR in 1936.
Northern America had little to offer the new urban blacks in the way of job opportunities, but much in the way of civil rights. It was the beginning of a Democratic hold on increasingly large group of new urban dwellers which includes African-Americans. Black newspapers and black celebrities began endorsing Democratic Party and FDR, even though he was a self-proclaimed “adopted son of the South.” Eleanor Roosevelt gave a speech entitled, “the Negro and Social Change” in which she spoke of injustice and racial handicaps. Black newspapers took notice. While the First Lady was championing civil rights, Republicans were singularly focused on avoiding FDR’s entitlement deficit spending and a New Deal which they saw as a left-wing plot to take the United States down the path of socialism. Sound familiar? Just as with Barack Obama, it was political misdirection at its finest.
Modern Civil Rights Movement
The modern Civil Rights Movement officially began in Topeka, Kansas in 1950, where the parents of a young black girl named Linda Brown insisted on her attending the white elementary school within walking distance of their home as opposed to the having to walk across railroad tracks and take a bus to the “Negro” school across town. Thirteen families challenged the local school board by filing suit in federal court. Listed alphabetically, Linda’s father, Oliver Brown, became the first name on the complaint. Little was heard of their efforts, which were rebuffed at each turn, until May 17, 1954, when the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and ruled that "in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place." The nation was stunned.
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, ninety-nine members of Congress signed the "Southern Manifesto" denouncing the court's ruling. Two were Republicans. Ninety-seven were Democrats. In 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate the Little Rock, Ark., schools over the resistance of Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus, a friend of Bill Clinton’s.
In 1957, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which signaled a growing federal commitment to civil rights. Only 20% of blacks at that time were registered to vote and the bill contained not only protected civil rights, but it contained a number of important provisions for the protection of their voting rights. It established the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and established the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. The bill was ultimately signed into law by President Eisenhower, but not before Democrats gutted it of much of its voter protection. Democrat Strom Thurmond, a strong segregationist, sustained the then-longest filibuster in history in an effort to block the bill. Lyndon Johnson supported, and convinced John F. Kennedy to support, an amendment which would require all violations to be tried by all-white juries in the South. Even after Democrats watered down the bill, it was still opposed by 18 senators -- all Democrats. Democrat Senator John F. Kennedy - who later as president would oppose Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington, D.C. , tap his phones, and have him investigated by the FBI - voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act.
The same Lyndon Johnson held up by President Obama as the paragon of civil rights voted against every civil rights bill brought to the floor during his terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, including anti-lynching, anti-poll tax, and Fair Employment Practices Committee measures. The real LBJ voted against these same measures during his early career in the U.S. Senate. Speaking with regard to the 1957 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson said:
“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them, we’ll lose the filibuster and there’ll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.”
Lyndon Johnson, who represented the state of Texas and had been propelled into office by Southern Democrats precisely in order to block civil rights legislation, had a strong record of opposition to all civil right. But he wanted to be president, and after dragging his feet on the civil rights bill throughout much of 1957, Johnson finally came to the conclusion that he had no choice but to turn in favor of civil rights and be on the right side of the issue.
The 1960 Civil Rights Bill established federal inspection of voter registration polls and introduced penalties for voter obstruction, but it was passed over fierce Democrat obstruction. Republicans in the Senate faced strong Democrat efforts to derail the bill, but a Republican president signed it into law only after Democrat amendments in the Senate which significantly weakened the bill. It passed the House by a vote of 295-288. No Republican Senators voted against the Bill. Eighteen Democrat Senators opposed it.
In 1963, Alabama’s Democratic National Committeeman and Birmingham Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor, resisted Dr. Martin Luther King’s decision to make Birmingham the center of his civil rights movement. It was a Democrat who used fierce police dogs to make sure black crowds were kept in check and television images of Connor’s dogs attacking blacks in the streets made the city notorious around the world. Alabama’s Democratic Governor, George Wallace, in his 1963 inaugural address, spoke the immortal words, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” It was Wallace who stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 declaring there would be segregation forever. It was a democrat - Arkansas Governor Faubus - who tried to prevent desegregation of the Little Rock schools.
June 10, 1964, was a watershed moment in American history. The 1964 Civil Rights Bill was being debated. For the first time in Senate history, cloture was invoked on a civil rights bill, ending a record-breaking filibuster by Democrats that had consumed fifty-seven working days. The hero of the hour was Republican minority leader Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen. Fierce Democrat opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act three Democrat presidents crowed about at the Johnson library recently was led by Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Byrd, who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, spoke against the bill for fourteen straight hours. Democrats still call Robert Byrd “the conscience of the Senate.” In his cloture speech to end Democrat opposition to the bill, Dirksen called on Democrats to end their filibuster and accept racial equality. “More than any other single individual,” the New York Times acknowledged of Dirksen, “he was responsible for getting the civil rights bill through the Senate.” His name was not mentioned by Obama in Austin.
For Democrats, history is either lied about or forgotten. In 2009, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a swipe at Republicans who were filibustering Obamacare by comparing them to those who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill opposed primarily by Democrats. Although Democrats had a large majority in the House with 259 members to 176 Republicans, almost as many Republicans voted for the civil rights bill as Democrats. The final vote was 290 to 130. Of the 290, 152 were Democrats and 138 were Republicans. Of those opposing the bill, three-fourths were Democrats. The same is true in the Senate. On the critical cloture vote to end the filibuster by Democrats, 71 senators voted to invoke cloture. With 67 votes needed, 80% of Democrats voted “nay”, including Robert Byrd and former Vice President Al Gore’s father, who was then a senator from Tennessee.
When Republicans pointed out the meaningless symbolism of the smoke and mirrors Paycheck Fairness Act recently, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said, “Republicans object to this strenuously, using the same arguments that conservatives used when they objected to every bit of progress made on civil rights for women and minorities over the past many decades, and they were wrong then and they’re wrong now.” It seems Carney, like most Democrats, has a problem remembering history. So let me help him.
Democrats fought to expand slavery while Republicans fought to end it. Democrats passed the discriminatory Black codes and Jim Crow laws. Democrats supported and passed the Missouri Compromise to protect slavery. Democrats supported and passed the Kansas Nebraska Act to expand slavery. Democrats supported and backed the Dred Scott decision. Democrats fought the education of African-Americans. Democrats fought anti-lynching laws. Democrats personally filibustered the civil Rights Act of 1964 for 14 straight hours to keep it from passing. Democrats passed the Repeal Act of 1984 that overturned civil rights laws enacted by Republicans. Democrats declared they would rather vote for a “yellow dog” than vote for a Republican, because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks. Democrat President Woodrow Wilson reintroduced segregation throughout the federal government upon taking office in 1913. Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt’s first appointment to the Supreme Court was a life member of the Ku Klux Klan, Democrat, Hugo Black. FDR opposed integration of the armed forces.
The chief opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were Democrats, including Senators Sam Ervin, Robert Byrd, and Al Gore, Sr. Democrats supported and backed Judge John Ferguson in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Democrats supported the school board in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Democrat Georgia Governor Lester Maddox wielded an ax hammer to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant.
In Austin last month, Obama said that LBJ "fought" and "bullied" and "persuaded" until the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Obviously, that isn’t exactly true, but not much our president says is true.
Over the last fifteen years, more and more blacks have woken up to the fact that the Democratic Party has used them politically, but has done little to actually help them. They are beginning to see the deception over the years. African-American preacher E.W. Jackson created a powerful video in 2012 in which he said:
“They have insulted us, used us, and manipulated us. They have saturated the black community with ridiculous lies,” he said, speaking directly to the black community. ”They think we are stupid and that these lies will hold us captive while they violate everything we believe as Christians.”
The tide is turning, but it is turning slowly. Today’s African-Americans are stuck in a political time warp and a blind allegiance to a political party which has fought against their best interests for 150 years. The result? The black nuclear family is all but extinct. It’s time for a change. One good organization for blacks who want to remember real history – instead of the lies they are told by the Democratic Party - is the national “Black Republican Association.” Another, known as the “Frederick Douglass Republicans”, was inspired by the life of Frederick Douglass, a self-educated slave who escaped to freedom and later became the abolitionist mouthpiece for the Republican Party.
Conservatives today, as they were at the time of the New Deal, find themselves at the crossroads. One the one hand there is the fight against a $18 trillion national debt, wild deficit spending, a growing federal government, and an entitlement program which is not only spinning out of control, but is being used by a president seeking to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse. On the other hand, there is the strong illusion of compassion and hope which big government programs, entitlements, and policies provide many blacks. It will take time for all African-Americans to see through the lie that conservatism is racist simply because it provides a way out of poverty that involves education and individual responsibility rather than reverse racism, entitlements, and life-long dependency on government. It will take time to defeat the well-entrenched political lies and liberal sound bites claiming it was Republicans who vetoed and fought civil rights instead of championing them. It will take education to convince many blacks that affirmative action was, is, and will always be racial justice on the cheap. Conservatives should keep in mind that if blacks had voted in 2012 as they did in 2004, or if conservatives had turned out to vote in 2012 as they did in 2008, Mitt Romney would be president.
The truth is that while the notion of a “black conservative” remains somewhat of an oxymoron, a conservative revolution is on the horizon, and African-Americans will play a big role in it. The election of a half-black president in 2008 with overwhelming support from African-Americans is understandable. More and more blacks understand that true help for the African-American community is found in the conservative message strongly communicated by Dr. Ben Carson at the 61st Annual Prayer Breakfast while Barack Obama sat just to his right. In the longest 27 minutes of our president’s life, Ben Carson said nothing new. He simply reiterated the same principles held by Frederick Douglass 150 years earlier: respect for the Constitution, respect for life, belief in individual responsibility, and a belief in limited government.
The real racists have always been, and still are, on the left. Democratic heroes say things no Republican could get away with. It was Bill Clinton who said, “A few years ago [Barack Obama] would have been getting us coffee.” Dan Rather was quoted saying, "(Obama’s) a nice person, he’s very articulate this is what’s been used against him, but he couldn’t sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic." Harry Reid described our president as “a 'light-skinned' African American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
That the mixture of blackness and conservatism is looked at as an oddity by liberals and the media is, unlike the empty accusations of racism today which have left the word utterly meaningless, the worst kind of racism – the kind that destroys and leaves people dependent and helpless. This point was made quite clear when Dr. Ben Carson compared Obamacare to slavery. In American society, people marvel at the sight of a black person who “astoundingly” supports limited government, entrepreneurialism, and social values rooted in absolute moral truth.
In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” Over the next 50 years, U.S. taxpayers have spent nearly $25 trillion expanding government in the name of implementing so-called “anti-poverty programs.” If you adjust for inflation, this unfathomable amount of money (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is over three times the amount spent on all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Fifty years later, these programs have not only bankrupted the richest nation on earth, but they have trapped in cycles of dependency and destitution the very people they were intended to help. The official poverty rate, as calculated by the Census Bureau, has fallen only modestly, from 19% in 1964 to 15% in 2012 (the most recent year available). But it has made the left feel good about themselves. Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, has failed completely. An overwhelming portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.
The left will have you believe that African-Americans with conservative values are conservative because they are successful – thus, all the “Uncle Tom” slurs you hear in response to such talk. But the truth is that they are successful because of their conservative values. They wait for no man and depend on no check to magically show up in their mailbox. Ward Connerly, Allen West, Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas, Angela McGlowan, Tim Scott, Larry Elder, Michael Steele, Shelby Steele, J.C. Watts, Thomas Sowell, Ken Blackwell, Walter Williams, and millions of other incredibly successful blacks share a similar philosophy. As Condi Rice put it, “Self esteem comes from achievements. Not from lax standards and false praise.”
The Republican tidal wave in the 2014 midterms reflects a repudiation of big government “handouts” and social solutions which do more harm than good. Blacks are choking on the donkey and are only now beginning to swallow the elephant. President Obama made a last-minute push to inspire the black vote, seen as his last hope to hold on to the Senate. But it was not to be. The tide is turning. The historic 2014 Republican landslide saw Tim Scott (R-SC) as the first black senator elected by a popular vote in the south. He won handily (61.2%) against Democrat Joyce Dickerson. It also saw the first black Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives. Mia Love (R-UT) and her conservative message hit the limelight in 2012 when she spoke at the Republican National Convention. She lost her first bid to represent Utah's 4th Congressional District in 2012, but was successful on her second try, winning 50% of the popular vote against Democrat Doug Owens in 2014. The first female veteran – Joni Ernst (R-IA), the hog-castrating, gun-toting, motorcycle riding Republican from Iowa – was elected to the Senate. We saw the first female senators from Iowa and West Virginia, the first female governor of Rhode Island, the first U.S. governor in a wheelchair, the first openly gay state attorney general, the youngest woman elected to Congress, and the first openly gay Republican in Congress. History is being made and African-Americans are playing a big role in making that history.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently noted that northern liberals are more racist than southerners are. A lot has changed in 50 years, racist comments by my former hero, Hank Aaron, to the contrary. It seems Bill Cosby was right all along. Working hard in school, keeping a family intact, and taking individual responsibility for their lives and actions will help African-Americans more than all the government handouts, affirmative action, and nation-bankrupting welfare combined. These aren’t conservative principles and they’re not “white” principles. They are common sense principles, and all Americans, no matter their skin color, will prosper if they are followed.