In his column in the Sunday Chicago Tribune, John Kass makes what appears to be a latter day "modest proposal". Essentially, he suggests we disband the Democratic Party, since it too harbors a long and sordid association with slavery and slave holders. His reasoning is clear and succinct, as long as liberals are out to ban all things Confederate, then it stands to reason that the Democratic Party ought to go too! And, will wonders never cease, I agree with him.
There is no question but that the Democratic Party for most of its existence has been a "Southern" political party. The Solid Democratic South was a fundamental given in any discussion of national and presidential politics. And for the most part this has meant that a large segment of the Democratic Party supported slavery, states' rights, Jim Crow segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings and last but certainly not least, the Confederate States of America. This is an historical fact and cannot be denied. Now I'm sure Mr. Kass expected to elicit an over-wrought and overly emotional response from some refugee of the 1960s, wearing a tie-dyed shirt and shouting "Power to the People!". Then, of course, the rugged defender of freedom of speech could pull out the hypocrisy card and smack liberals over the head with it. And I'm pretty confident that somewhere out there was a sanctimonious pinhead who was ready, willing and able to give Mr. Kass the ammunition he needed. I am NOT one of those pinheads!
Oh, to be sure, I'm a self-confessed liberal and a long-time Democrat. If you read this blog more than three times you'd know that. So there's no mistaking either my political leanings or party affiliation. But John Kass is absolutely right, historically the Democratic Party has a LOT to answer for. They represented some of the darkest, meanest aspects of American politics. But let me also point THIS out, too. In 1948 Hubert Humphrey put his political career on the line when he virtually demanded that the Democratic Party put a civil rights plank in its party platform. A great many of the delegates to that convention opposed Mr. Humphrey's proposal, including future Republican U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. But the Democrats ignored the opponents of civil rights and adopted Mr. Humphrey's civil rights platform, which caused Mr. Thurmond to storm off the convention floor, and later to form his own segregationist political party, the Dixiecrats.
Yes, the whole Southern bloc of Democrats in the Senate successfully filibustered every consequential piece of civil rights legislation brought before that august body all throughout the 40s, 50s and well into the 1960s. In fact, it took the votes of 27 brave Republican senators to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, over the strenuous objections of the entire Southern Democratic bloc. So Mr. Kass is quite correct when he states that the Democratic Party has a lot of nerve to point accusatory fingers at present day Republicans, or he would have save for one thing. Over time, both political parties changed and evolved. Democrats, yes even Southern Democrats, saw the error of their ways and committed themselves to the concept of equal protection under the law. In the meantime, Republicans lead by Richard Nixon and the self-same Strom Thurmond, adopted a "Southern Strategy" for the Republican Party, a Southern Strategy that effectively opposed civil rights initiatives and invited those segregationist Democrats to come on over and join the "new" Republican Party, the party that became the party of Donald Trump and the Alt.Right. And so, through his words and actions, Mr. Trump has made it crystal clear that the haters and bigots of this world now have a happy home in the party of Lincoln.
It's apparent that John Kass' political sensitivity has lead him to the conclusion that the title "Democratic Party" ought to be eliminated, and that suits me just fine. By all means, let's consign the Democratic Party to the scrap heap of history. Maybe we can re-brand the Democratic Party in the same way that Richard Nixon and Strom Thurmond re-branded the Republican Party, up to and including the name itself. Maybe we can call ourselves the Peace, Justice and Prosperity Party. Then there'll be no mistaking what WE stand for in contrast with the Party of Trump!
Filed under: Politics