Shorter Martin Cothran: How Whiteliberaldemocrats voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
Rand Paul can’t be a racist for opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in 2010 because there were racist Democrats who opposed it in 1964.
Cothran doesn’t know why everyone is beating up on Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul for saying he’d vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I mean, sure, the Civil Rights Act does a bunch of stuff that Cothran has no intention of actually discussing, but look how the voting pattern in 1964 doesn’t tell a clean story about how one party is a bunch of Freedom Riders while the other is the party of secessionists.
In 1964, there were functionally four parties. There were 1) liberal Democrats, who were more liberal than the 2) liberal Republicans, who were more liberal than 3) conservative Republicans, some of whom were more liberal than 4) Dixiecrats, who were fairly conservative in various ways, but who mostly just wanted to keep black people subjugated, and stick it to the Yankees if they could. The passage of the Civil Rights Act caused a realignment among the two umbrella groups containing those four parties.
Guess which of those four “parties” switched coalitions?
Yep, the racists left the Democratic party, and the Republican party has never done anything that might offend those racists for the last 45 years. As I pointed out in a comment on an earlier post of Cothran’s:
When [President] Johnson (D-TX) signed the Civil Rights Act, he declared that doing so would cost Democrats the South for a generation. Nixon followed up on that opportunity with his famed “Southern strategy,” a tactic that conservasaint Ronald Reagan gleefully embraced. Even the current RNC chairman, asked what reasons African-Americans had to vote GOP, acknowledged: “You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True.”
If the current discourse was about whether there were racist Democrats in 1964, Cothran’s post would be germane. But the current conversation is about whether Rand Paul is a racist or whether he’s only such a shill for the racist sector of the Republican base that he feels the need to defend other people’s ability to enforce racist policies which he himself finds abhorent.
What relevance has the politics of 1964 got to that debate?
Cothran maunders about Robert Byrd, the oldest serving Senator, a Democrat who used to be in the KKK. As I wrote to Cothran before:
I’ve never met, voted for, or lived in the same state as George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, or Robert Byrd. I know Thurmond left the Democratic Party precisely because of racial politics, Wallace ran for President as an Independent for the same reason, and Byrd has expressed deep regret for and repudiated his early ties to the KKK.
When Rand Paul apologizes for his actions as vigorously and honestly as Byrd has – writing “I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times… and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened” – then we can have a different conversation. …
Democrats 60 years ago were awful on race, but in the 30 years I’ve been alive, it’s a very different story. Some day conservatives might decide to catch up. What I’m seeing of Rand Paul’s “intellectual” leadership” won’t help that happen.
And I’ll close by repeating a point from that earlier comment as well: “The Civil Rights Act is a good thing. If you disagree, make an argument. If you agree, then take it up with your nominee for US Senate. He dug his own hole on this matter, and he just keeps on digging.”
Who voted for what bill 45 years ago isn’t among the more important questions today. The parties as we think of them now didn’t exist in 1964, so trying to ascribe the views of 1964′s Democrats to modern Democrats simply doesn’t make sense. If the vote were held today, how would Cothran’s Republican party vote?