Former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent dust-up with fellow Democrats over his past work with segregationists highlights a sad history members of their party would like Americans to forget.
Appearing to work in complicity or ignorance, multiple mainstream media outlets characterized Biden’s comments about working with former Democratic segregationist Sens. Herman Talmadge of Georgia and James Eastland of Mississippi in the 1970s as his efforts to reach across the aisle.
“Reaching across the aisle” is a phrase used when lawmakers find common ground with those of the opposing party. Biden clearly wasn’t doing that in the examples he offered at a New York fundraiser this week.
MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt corrected the record on Wednesday after she mistakenly referred to Talmadge and Eastland as Republicans.
Earlier today, I inaccurately said Sens. James Eastland & Herman Talmadge were Republicans. They were, of course, both Democrats. We regret the error. We’ll make sure to correct it on the show tomorrow, but wanted to correct the record here in the meantime.
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) June 19, 2019
Democrats, including Biden himself, are persistent in their efforts to brand President Donald Trump, and Republicans more broadly, racist. They played the same card against Republican presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan when they were in office.
Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who serves as Biden’s campaign co-chair, drew a parallel between his candidate partnering with “unsavory and racists characters” in the past to what Richmond and fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus are doing now in working with Trump, in some instances.
“(W)hether it’s the black caucus working with President Trump last year to get criminal justice done or working with some very unsavory, racist characters back in the day, the goal is to get things done,” Richmond said.
The tenacity with which Democrats push the narrative that Trump and Republicans are racist calls to mind the famous Shakespeare-inspired line: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”
African-American conservative commentator Brandon Tatum told The Western Journal, “The Democrats love to project their past and present sins onto the Republican Party and Donald Trump.”
“Racism, bigotry, and hatred are all a part of the fabric of the Democratic platform,” he added. “The party of the Klan, Jim Crow, segregation, and now genocide by socialism, belong exclusively to the Democratic Party.”
In contrast, the Republican Party was founded in the 1850s to stop the growth of slavery into the newly admitted states and territories. Democrats opposed that effort.
The Democratic Party ran two candidates in 1860 (both of whom supported allowing slavery to grow into the new lands), but Republican Abraham Lincoln prevailed.
In response to the Illinoisan’s election, Democratic lawmakers in the Southern states took the nation to war to preserve their “rights,” the most prominent of those being the right to own slaves. More than 600,000 Americans died in the ensuing four-year conflict.
During and in the years immediately following the war, the Republican-led Congress passed three key constitutional amendments freeing the slaves, guaranteeing them equal protection under the law and securing their right to vote.
Democrats almost unanimously opposed these measures.
Democratic politicians in the southern states responded to blacks’ new freedoms by passing Jim Crow, segregationist laws starting in the late 1800s.
They also populated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan, formed to terrorize African-Americans and keep them in subjugation.
Lest one think this is ancient history, the nation’s longest serving senator, Democrat Robert Byrd led a Ku Klux Klan chapter in his native West Virginia when he was a young man. When Byrd passed in 2010, Hillary Clinton lauded him as her “mentor” and “the heart” of the Senate.
Byrd was repentant about his activities with the Klan later in his life, but it again highlights the links between the Democratic Party and extreme racism.
Meanwhile in the years since the Civil War, Republicans stayed true to their roots of supporting the rights of African-Americans.
President Ulysses Grant, a Republican, sent the Army into the southern states to protect African-Americans from Klan and other white supremacist-inspired violence.
He also championed passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870 guaranteeing blacks the right to vote, as a means to help them secure political power.
Decades later, it was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law, the first such legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1875 under Grant.
Eisenhower also sent the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which mandated integrating public schools.
By way of comparison, Biden in the 1970s, opposed student busing programs, which was a primary means used to desegregate public schools.
In the 1960s, Republicans supported passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending Jim Crow laws in a greater percentage than Democrats in Congress, thus making possible the legislation’s passage.
Seventy-six percent of Republicans in the House voted for its passage versus 60 percent of Democrats, who controlled the chamber. A total of 91 Democrats voted against the law.
In the Senate, the breakdown was similar, as 82 percent of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act versus 67 percent of Democrats.
In current times, Trump has often proudly touted that African-American unemployment has fallen to its lowest point in U.S. history as one of the signature achievements during his time in office.
The 45th president also is not shy about highlighting the proud heritage of African-Americans.
In remarks at the White House commemorating Black History Month last year, Trump spoke of the legacy of Frederick Douglass, describing him as a “great American icon,” and black soldiers who have fought in the nation’s wars as heroic.
Trump also celebrated the leaders of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, noting, “they lifted up the conscience of our nation and made America more just, more equal and more free.”
“From the pews to the picket lines, African-American civil rights champions have brought out the best in America, calling us to live out our founding creed and to the truth that we are all made equal by God,” the president said.
The Republican Party has a strong record on race.
When Democrats do their best to label Trump and Republicans as racists, interpret it as overcompensation for a not-so-distant past for which they should not be proud.
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