Democrats, Republicans, and civil rights: let’s look at the record.

One of the standard glibertarian/Republican lies (recited frequently by some RBC commenters) is that, in the Civil Rights struggles of the early 1960s, Republicans stood for equality and Democrats stood for racism. They’ve even managed to fool PolitiFact on the first half of the claim, ignoring the little detail that in 1964 the Republicans nominated an opponent of the Civil Rights Act of that year for President. Yes, back then there were still lots of racist Southern Democrats, and some liberal (and a bunch of moderate) Northern Republicans: you know, the same people the Red Team has spent the last thirty years purging from the Republican Party. In the meantime, all the [next generation of] Southern racists moved into the welcoming arms of the GOP, creating today’s lineup.

Even back then, a four-way breakdown (by party and region) shows that non-Confederate Democrats (despite the presence of Robert Byrd) were more supportive of civil rights legislation than non-Confederate Republicans, and that even Confederate Democrats were slightly better, on average, than the small number of Confederate Republicans.

One way to disentangle region from race is to look at state-level legislation. Today’s column by Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee retells the story of equal-housing legislation in California, backed by Pat Brown and opposed by Ronald Reagan because “property rights” and “freedom of association.” It passed the legislature but was overturned by an initiative, and the Brown Administration refused to defend the initiative in court; the Supremes eventually overturned it. Here’s Morain’s account of the passage of the bill:

The Assembly approved Rumford’s bill easily. The Senate struggled, passing it at the end of the session, with 22 Democrats voting for it, 12 Republicans joined by one Democrat against it, and five senators ducking the vote.

So, just as you thought, Democrats and liberals by and large did the right thing, while conservatives (including libertarians) and Republicans did the wrong thing. And it should come as no surprise that it’s the Republican majority on the Supreme Court that just voted to gut the Voting Rights Act, or that it’s the Republican majority in the House that will refuse to pass a replacement that would interfere with the Republican plan to retain a voting majority in the face of demographic change by preventing Democrats, including of course blacks and Latinos, from voting to the maximum extent the courts will hold still for.

Footnote Even before there was fair housing legislation, there was Shelly v. Kraemer. The federal courts held that the courts could not enforce restrictive covenants under which land was sold on the condition that it not be resold to blacks or Asians (or, in many cases, to Jews), reasoning that while the Constitution was silent as to private discriminatory action, enforcing a discriminatory contract would constitute “state action.” I’m not sure I know the official “libertarian” take on this. It would seem, at first blush, that the right of property ownership includes the right to sell the property, and, in doing so, to impose any condition on the buyer that the buyer will accept. In purely economic terms, in a racially divided society, a restrictive covenant solves a collective-action problem; the “taste for discrimination” is a taste like any other. So once you fetishize “private property” and “freedom of association” and ignore the history of race in this county, it’s hard to see why a bargain that individuals are free to make should be negated by the state’s refusal to enforce it.

I’m not arguing here that this should have been a hard case, only that the theory that makes it a hard case is, to that extent, a very dubious theory. Liberty can be threatened by private as well as by state action, and we need courts and governments to defend it on both fronts.

Comments

  1. max says

    It would seem, at first blush, that the right of property ownership includes the right to sell the property, and, in doing so, to impose any condition on the buyer that the buyer will accept.

    Or so I have heard. I’m not sure how you inflict ANY kind of deed restriction without state action. (In fact, now that I have thought about it for a minute, it seems to me that any covenant inflicting post-sale conditions should be out as restricting the property rights of the purchaser. Why should the first mover get rights that the second (etc.) owner doesn’t have?)

    max
    ['But then Jim Crow was always about surface plausibility.']

    • says

      Or so I have heard. I’m not sure how you inflict ANY kind of deed restriction without state action.

      The Court agreed with you.

      I think Shelley is a fairly easy case on state action. The problem is line-drawing– it definitely isn’t the case that every time the state enforces a purely private right, the substantive prohibitions of the Constitution apply to the private conduct. For instance, if a bigot calls the police to chase off a black trespasser, that doesn’t become governmental race discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment.

      The key reason Shelley comes out the way it does is that state-backed COLLECTIVE action is different than state-backed INDIVIDUAL action. The former is much more analogous to the government itself acting.

  2. Manju says

    all the Southern racists moved into the welcoming arms of the GOP

    This unsubstantiated assertion could theoretically be possible if you exclude the most powerful segregationists in the land. By virtue of the role the Senate Filibuster played in maintaining the Regine, here they are…

    Below, every Dem Senator who voted against the 1964 cra, or the 1965 vra, or cloture on either (let be thorough and sophisticated here) on either:

    AL Nay [D] Joseph Hill
    AL Nay [D] John Sparkman
    AR Nay [D] John McClellan
    AR Nay [D] James Fulbright
    FL Nay [D] George Smathers
    FL Nay [D] Spessard Holland
    GA Nay [D] Herman Talmadge
    GA Nay [D] Richard Russell
    LA Nay [D] Russell Long
    LA Nay [D] Allen Ellender
    MS Nay [D] John Stennis
    MS Nay [D] James Eastland
    NC Nay [D] Samuel Ervin
    NC Nay [D] Benjamin Jordan
    SC Nay [D] Donald Russell (against ’65, was not in 64 Senate)
    SC Nay [D] Olin Johnston
    SC Nay [D] Strom Thurmond
    TN Nay [D] Herbert Walters
    TN Nay [D] Albert Gore
    VA Nay [D] Absalom Robertson
    VA Nay [D] Harry Byrd
    AZ Nay [D] Carl Hayden (against cloture only)
    NV Nay [D] Alan Bible (against cloture only)
    WV Nay [D] Robert Byrd

    I defy you to find more than one who became a Republican

    • Mark Kleiman says

      Post edited to clarify. Most of the elected Dixiecrats died as Dixiecrats. (Thurmond was the great exception.) But their voters, and their political heirs, became, and remain, Republicans. For example, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, a graveyard of civil rights legislation second only to Senate Judiciary, was William Colmer. He retired (still a Democrat) in 1972, and endorsed as his successor his longtime aide, running as a Republican: Trent Lott.

      Note that not a single Southern Republican in either house voted for the 1964 bill on final passage. And, as noted in the post, while the Southern Democrat then in the White House pulled out all the stops to pass the ’64, ’65, and ’66 acts, the GOP decided to nominate Barry Goldwater for President.

      I’m glad that Manju and his friends are still paying the tribute of vice to virtue. But honest to God, that old dog won’t hunt. Anti-black politics is the past of the Democratic Party; it is the present and the future of the Republican Party.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        So, now you’re reduced to saying that the new Republicans who had never been Demonrats were really Dixicrats? On the basis that they were getting elected instead of Demonrats? “But their voters, and their political heirs, became, and remain, Republicans.” Why not just admit your claim has been falsified?

        The glibertarian (Which is why I will, for the duration of this thread, refer to you as “Demonrats”.) position would be that, given a choice between a party that supports racial equality under the law, (The Republicans, then and now.) and a party which is actually supporting racial discrimination against everybody but blacks, (The Demonrats, after swapping clients.) OF COURSE pro-white racists are going to vote for the former, as the least, from their perspective, ‘evil’. Just as pro-black racists will be loyal supporters of the latter. And political affiliation being largely passed on by parents, that change of loyalty continued into subsequent generations, though the basis for it may have shifted.

        And Republicans are no more going to turn down those votes, than you lift a finger to urge Sharpton and Farakan’s voters to take a hike. (Though I at least hope you’re squicked out a bit about having them on your side.)

        Further, I’m fairly confident that Goldwater’s stated rationale for opposing the 1964 civil rights act as drafted, that it went beyond the power given the federal government under the 14th and 15th amendments by presuming to reach individual, and not just state, discrimination, was sincere. Some people actually care about that rule of law stuff, even if it’s long been passe among Demonrats.

        • James Wimberley says

          “Demonrats” is feeble. It starts well, but then why rats? The general impression created is low-low-budget horror movie with closeups of spiders and the like in lieu of special effects. In metaphor, rats jump ship or betray confederates to the cops. If your objection is to consistent lefties, try Ochlocrats. Throw in “nympholeptic”, which nobody will understand but sounds evil.

        • says

          Brett, “supporting racial equality under the law” alone and 25 cents would buy you a cup of coffee in a Woolworth’s in Montgomery in 1963– but only if you were white.

          Civil rights is a problem for libertarian ideology, because it wasn’t just government that did it. The private sector did it. They did it explicitly through things like the racially restrictive covenants in Shelley, and in various more subtle ways as well (such as just telling blacks that there were no rooms for rent).

          Had libertarian ideology won out in 1964, what we would still have now is a ton more racial discrimination than we have now, because only the government would be restricted from engaging in it (and even that would have been much more ineffective because without a fair housing act, we would be even more segregated than we are).

          So yeah, I don’t like affirmative action programs all that much (though not because they are discriminatory in favor of blacks– I just don’t think they work very well), but if the choice is between real civil rights laws and some affirmative action versus libertarian delusion and the legalization of right-wing racism and white supremicism, yeah, i will go with the liberals.

        • Manju says

          Further, I’m fairly confident that Goldwater’s stated rationale for opposing the 1964 civil rights act as drafted, that it went beyond the power given the federal government under the 14th and 15th amendments by presuming to reach individual, and not just state, discrimination, was sincere

          Emaphasis mine. I’m libertarian(ish-sorta), so it pains me to inform you that you are wrong.

          Goldwater opposed Brown v Board. That’s state discrimination and thus doesn’t pass the libertarian smell test. From “Conscience of a Conservative”:

          “It may be just or wise or expediant for Negro children to attend the same schools as white children, but they do not have a civil right to do so which is protected by the federal constitution…”

          http://tinyurl.com/myc98ws

      • Manju says

        Most of the elected Dixiecrats died as Dixiecrats. (Thurmond was the great exception.)

        Thank you for acknowledging the fact.

        But their voters, and their political heirs, became, and remain, Republicans.

        Here’s the problem with that. Below, the final vote on the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006…restricted to the 22 Senators from the 11 former confederate states:

        AL Aye Sessions, Jefferson [R]
        AL Aye Shelby, Richard [R]
        AR Aye Lincoln, Blanche [D]
        AR Aye Pryor, Mark [D]
        FL Aye Martinez, Mel [R]
        FL Aye Nelson, Bill [D]
        GA Aye Chambliss, Saxby [R]
        GA Aye Isakson, John [R]
        LA Aye Landrieu, Mary [D]
        LA Aye Vitter, David [R]
        MS Aye Cochran, Thad [R]
        MS Aye Lott, Trent [R]
        NC Aye Burr, Richard [R]
        NC Aye Dole, Elizabeth [R]
        SC Aye DeMint, Jim [R]
        SC Aye Graham, Lindsey [R]
        TN Aye Alexander, Lamar [R]
        TN Aye Frist, William [R]
        TX Aye Hutchison, Kay [R]
        TX Aye Cornyn, John [R]
        VA Aye Warner, John [R]
        VA Aye Allen, George [R]

        needless to say, this is not how one would expect the heirs to Fullbright, Smathers, Stennis, etc to vote.

        http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/109-2006/s212

      • Manju says

        But their voters, and their political heirs, became, and remain, Republicans. For example, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, a graveyard of civil rights legislation second only to Senate Judiciary, was William Colmer. He retired (still a Democrat) in 1972, and endorsed as his successor his longtime aide, running as a Republican: Trent Lott.

        Ok, but then it should be noted that folks like Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour took on all out Southern Dem Segregationists (John Flynt and John Stennis, receptively. Newt drove the despicable Flyint into retirement in 1978 (Flynt even signed the Southern Manifesto) not to mention Speaker of the House Jim Wright (opposed the 1964cra).

        I have no illusions about what “welfare president” is designed to convey, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dems were running Pure Evil very late into the game.

      • Manju says

        But their voters, and their political heirs, became, and remain, Republicans. For example, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, a graveyard of civil rights legislation second only to Senate Judiciary, was William Colmer. He retired (still a Democrat) in 1972, and endorsed as his successor his longtime aide, running as a Republican: Trent Lott.

        Also, it’s worth noting that Strom Thurmond’s monumental ’64 switch has drowned out an important narrative in the Southern realignment. Many of the early (late 60’s, early 70’s) Republican gains in the South knocked out Segregationists who were still being supported by Democrats.

        Winthrop Rockefeller replacing Orville Faubus as Governor of AR in ’67 was a massive civil rights victory. He became the only governor of one the 11 former confederate states to publicly mourn the death of MLK. The rest were Democrats.

        Howard Baker of TN fit this mode too. He won in ‘67 while being married to Dirksen’s Daughter! Thats a name populist southerners hate more than Winthrop.

        Linwood Holton of VA was a rather extceptional figure (for a white southerner) as well. He became Gov in 1970 and voluntarily sent his kids to a Af-Am school…during a time when busing was the major contentious issue.

        The otherwise goofy Spiro Agnew of MD also took the Govenors mansion on a pro-civil rights platform. (MD is a borderline confederate state, like WV) while running against an anti-civil rights Dem.

      • Manju says

        Note that not a single Southern Republican in either house voted for the 1964 bill on final passage.

        This is terribly deceptive and ahistorical. It denies the reality of “tantamount to election”, of one-party region, not to mention some of the lesser reasons why voting rights were necessary.

        I mean, in the Senate, not a single Southern Republican voted against the 1957 and 1960 cras. Why? Because not a single one got elected!

        Why couldn’t they get elected? Because in many states they weren’t allowed to run. Or if they were, they were subjected to voter fraud. See Faubus v Rockefeller in 1964 for AK Gov for example. And why was Faubus able to get away with Voter Fraud?

        Because in 1964 Southern Democrats were worse on civil rights than Southern Republicans.

        The fact that a higher % of southern republicans voted against the 1964cra than their democratic colleagues is utterly meaningless when put in context.

        (To be fair, comparing northern r’s to northern d’s is ok. I mean, I wouldn’t rely on that wiki page…i would look at the entire history of civil rights, including procedural votes…but at least it doesn’t completely flip fundamental attributes of the Jim Crow system)

  3. Manju says

    That should’ve read; “This unsubstantiated assertion could theoretically be possible only if you exclude the most powerful segregationists in the land.

    Lets do the House now. Below, every House Dem from the 11 former confederate states who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    AL Nay [D] George Andrews
    AL Nay [D] Carl Elliott
    AL Nay [D] Kenneth Roberts
    AL Nay [D] George Grant
    AL Nay [D] Robert Jones Jr.
    AL Nay [D] George Huddleston Jr.
    AL Nay [D] Albert Rains
    AL Nay [D] Armistead Selden Jr.
    AR Nay [D] James Trimble
    AR Nay [D] Wilbur Mills
    AR Nay [D] Oren Harris
    AR Nay [D] Ezekiel Gathings
    FL Aye [D] Claude Pepper
    FL Nay [D] Robert Sikes
    FL Nay [D] Don Fuqua
    FL Nay [D] Donald Matthews
    FL Nay [D] James Haley
    FL Nay [D] Paul Rogers
    FL Nay [D] Charles Bennett
    FL Nay [D] Dante Fascell
    FL Nay [D] Sam Gibbons
    FL Nay [D] Albert Herlong Jr.
    GA Nay [D] Robert Stephens Jr.
    GA Nay [D] James Tuten
    GA Nay [D] Charles Weltner
    GA Nay [D] George Hagan
    GA Nay [D] John Flynt Jr.
    GA Nay [D] John Pilcher
    GA Nay [D] John Davis
    GA Nay [D] Elijah Forrester
    GA Nay [D] Carl Vinson
    GA Nay [D] Phillip Landrum
    LA Nay [D] Otto Passman
    LA Nay [D] Joseph Waggonner Jr.
    LA Nay [D] Theo Thompson
    LA Nay [D] James Morrison
    LA Nay [D] Felix Hébert
    LA Nay [D] Thomas Boggs Sr.
    LA Nay [D] Gillis Long
    LA Nay [D] Edwin Willis
    MS Nay [D] John Williams
    MS Nay [D] William Winstead
    MS Nay [D] Thomas Abernethy
    MS Nay [D] William Colmer
    MS Nay [D] Jamie Whitten
    NC Nay [D] Roy Taylor
    NC Nay [D] David Henderson
    NC Nay [D] Ralph Scott
    NC Nay [D] Basil Whitener
    NC Nay [D] Herbert Bonner
    NC Nay [D] Lawrence Fountain
    NC Nay [D] Harold Cooley
    NC Nay [D] Horace Kornegay
    NC Nay [D] Alton Lennon
    SC Nay [D] Albert Watson
    SC Nay [D] William Dorn
    SC Nay [D] Lucius Rivers
    SC Nay [D] Robert Ashmore
    SC Nay [D] Robert Hemphill
    SC Nay [D] John McMillan
    TN Nay [D] Robert Everett
    TN Nay [D] Thomas Murray
    TN Nay [D] Joseph Evins
    TX Nay [D] Ovie Fisher
    TX Nay [D] Robert Casey
    TX Nay [D] George Mahon
    TX Nay [D] Lindley Beckworth Sr.
    TX Nay [D] James Wright Jr.
    TX Nay [D] Omar Burleson
    TX Nay [D] Graham Purcell Jr.
    TX Nay [D] Olin Teague
    TX Nay [D] John Dowdy
    TX Nay [D] William Poage
    TX Nay [D] John Patman
    TX Nay [D] Joe Kilgore
    TX Nay [D] John Young
    TX Nay [D] Joe Pool
    TX Nay [D] Walter Rogers
    TX Nay [D] Herbert Roberts
    VA Nay [D] William Tuck
    VA Nay [D] Julian Gary
    VA Nay [D] Porter Hardy Jr.
    VA Nay [D] William Jennings
    VA Nay [D] Thomas Downing
    VA Nay [D] John Marsh Jr.
    VA Nay [D] Watkins Abbitt
    VA Nay [D] Howard Smith

    Who switched? I’ll start you off with Albert Watson.

    I won’t hold you to 100%. I won’t even hold you to 50%. Not even 25%.

    Now Reps are more obscure than Senators so I have to rely on less reliable sources than academic. So I don’t want to commit to precise number like I did with the Senators (one, is the correct number there).

    But I’ve gone thru these names. If you do too, I think it will soon dawn on you that only a handful switched (I’d be surprised if you could find more than 5). The vast vast majority stayed.

  4. Manju says

    non-Confederate Democrats (despite the presence of Robert Byrd) were more supportive of civil rights legislation than non-Confederate Republicans,

    Only if you ignore previous civil rights legislation along with the all-important procedural votes, where civil rights really went to die.

    So take the 1957cra. The bill entering the Senate is defacto the 1964 one. One way to kill it is to make sure the Senate Judiciary Committee gets its…becaue they’ll keep it bottled up in committee. Why? its run by vicious racist James Eastland of Mississippi. Here is the procedural vote in question, Ayes only b/c (obviously, if you look at how the southern senators vote) Aye = Evil

    AL Aye [D] John Sparkman
    AL Aye [D] Joseph Hill
    AR Aye [D] James Fulbright
    AR Aye [D] John McClellan
    AZ Aye [R] Barry Goldwater
    AZ Aye [D] Carl Hayden
    DE Aye [R] John Williams
    DE Aye [D] Joseph Frear
    FL Aye [D] George Smathers
    FL Aye [D] Spessard Holland
    GA Aye [D] Herman Talmadge
    GA Aye [D] Richard Russell
    LA Aye [D] Allen Ellender
    LA Aye [D] Russell Long
    MA Aye [D] John Kennedy
    MS Aye [D] James Eastland
    MS Aye [D] John Stennis
    MT Aye [D] James Murray
    MT Aye [D] Michael Mansfield
    NC Aye [D] Samuel Ervin
    NC Aye [D] William Scott
    ND Aye [R] Milton Young
    NM Aye [D] Clinton Anderson
    NV Aye [D] Alan Bible
    NV Aye [R] George Malone
    OH Aye [D] Frank Lausche
    OK Aye [D] Robert Kerr
    OR Aye [D] Wayne Morse
    SC Aye [D] Olin Johnston
    SC Aye [D] Strom Thurmond
    SD Aye [R] Karl Mundt
    TN Aye [D] Albert Gore
    TN Aye [D] Carey Kefauver
    TX Aye [D] Lyndon Johnson
    TX Aye [D] Ralph Yarborough
    VA Aye [D] Absalom Robertson
    VA Aye [D] Harry Byrd
    WA Aye [D] Warren Magnuson
    WY Aye [D] Joseph O’Mahoney

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/85-1957/s67

    Pro-civil rights forces were able to defeat this one. But look who is in collusion. (BTW, James Esatland woudl beomce an early supporter of JFK’s presidential comapiogn, playing a role for JFK that strom Thurmond played for Nixon. Now you see can see why.

  5. Manju says

    You might think I’m cherrypicking above (with the 1957 cra). I have comprehensive data taht includes all civil rights legislation. But it bears some explanation and even I am skeptical.

    its Dw-Nominate dimension II. It appears to show that republicans where better on civil rights than Norhtern Dems (i think the 2 were about even). I’ll try to get to this tonight or tomorrow.

  6. Mike says

    Manju,
    You may not be cherry-picking, but you’re living in the past — and it’s one that makes things out to be more, pardon the term, black-and-white than they were.

    Both major parties in the US have really atrocious histories of racism. There’s only one that is still substantively adding to that sordid history currently. That said, do African-Americans have concerns about the Democrats? Heck yeah, given the fact that Dems these days tend to run toward Republican positions far too often since Bill C. started the Great Triangulation.

    But it’s definitely not because of the Republican record since the 1960s as being somehow enlightened on race. Given Republicans truly do believe in a government small enough to make sure they retain their rights, but not strong enough to defend yours, I wouldn’t expect any different. Talking about equality in the context of freedom and liberty brings accusations of socialism from them, although I’ve seen none of that breaking out in DC since Nov. 2008.

    I will agree that Obama has been a great wake up call for African-Americans about how much the Democrats really are on their side. In the long run that may do more for American politics than anything else, as a president who can remember his race is less than paradoxically one who is just as able as some white guy to forget all about the class differences that grow starker every day in this country. That’s a message that remains shot through with race, one most Americans including virtually all Republicans are inarticulate about, but which includes a subject most Americans of every ethnic and racial background find difficulty even articulating the concept of class — although they understand how the everyday economy increasingly excludes them. Our leaders mostly no longer care about most of us, despite whatever comments President Obama may make today. Judge by how many bankers are in jail today versus how many weed dealers, if you want a metric that is a reasonable one to posit the Obama record against the Obama rhetoric.

    You will know them truly by their deeds, not their words.

    • says

      Yeah, one big thorn in the “Democrats are the real racists” BS is that if Democrats were the real racists, wouldn’t blacks vote for Republicans (as they did, by the way, for a long time)? Of course, these guys might argue that the blacks are too dumb to know who the real racists are, but that would point us back to who the real, real racists are. :)

      • Brett Bellmore says

        Not if the Democrats, (I agree, “Demonrat” is about as stupid as “Glibertarian”) simply switched their racism from anti-black, to pro-black. There’s nothing about racism which requires it to be anti-black, after all.

        While Republicans get accused of racism, amusingly, simply for not going along with the Democrats’ new polarity of racist policy.

        • Mike says

          Brett,
          Racism isn’t color-coded. It’s about power, who has it and who doesn’t. Conservatives don’t like considering it in those terms, because questioning racism tends to indict long-established power structures that — guess what? — have historically benefited from racism. I know your head just exploded if you think about that seriously…nevermind.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            No, racism is not about power. Not even in the slightest. It’s about how you reason about people in the context of race. The most powerless person in the world can be a racist. They might not be able to do much damage with their racism, but that’s a separate matter.

            Not that you’re talking about actual power, as opposed to assigning people nominal power relationships based on skin color.

            No, this is how Democrats attempt to immunize certain minorities against being identified as racist. You say racism is about power, and then assign the power to somebody else. So blacks can’t be racist, even in cities where they’re the majority, and control the levers of power. They can’t be racist, on a dark street where they may have the physical advantage. And you can’t be racist, yourselves, because you conceive of yourselves as working for the ‘powerless’, even as you’re the one voice in this country demanding legally enforced racial discrimination.

            They can’t be racist, you can’t be racist, because you have to think of your party as the good guys, and tendentious definitions of racism is one of the ways you perpetuate that self image.

          • Mike says

            Brett,
            Well, guess I was right. Here’s the towel, I’m sure you can clean up after yourself…

  7. Eli says

    To any honest political observer, there is a clear correlation between right wing politics and authoritarianism, bigotry, xenophobia, traditionalism, nationalism, etc. that holds just about anywhere throughout time and place. This is why anti-immigrant, sexist, homophobic, hostility to minorities will always come from the illiberal sectors of society. To pretend otherwise is to deny a basic fact of political psychology. Of course, not every member of the right will have these attitudes, and many on the left will have them. But the correlation is undeniable. In the modern era, when explicit bigotry is unacceptable, the unconscious biases that before could be expressed in plain political language must now largely be expressed via code. Although the biases in many respects have not changed.

    • Sebastian H says

      “…Correlation between right wing politics and authoritarianism, bigotry (etc)… that holds just about anywhere throughout time and place…”

      More than one billion people in China are living under a rather gaping Maoist exception to your alleged rule. And that isn’t even mentioning the history of Russia. Come to think of it, the French history that we get the left right labelling from illustrates the falsity of your statement.

      Unless by correlation you mean “something that doesn’t distinguish it from left wing politics throughout time and space”, which would be weird.

      If you want to say that modern Republicans in the US are lurching in an ugly direction (and have been for quite a while) that’s accurate. But the pretense that left wing politics have some sort of inherent resistance to the problems of authoritarianism, bigotry, racism and homophobia is to write off much of recent history.

      • Eli says

        That’s a fair point, and I should have more specifically focused on the cultural left/right axis. “Right-wing” is about maintenance of social hierarchies, right? So communism is indeed interesting because of the way that authoritarian, illiberal values become are attached to a system that in principle was trying to do away with social hierarchies to begin with. It would be interesting to look at political groups in communist countries, yet unfortunately there aren’t many. Yet in countries where political organization around different ideologies is possible, you see clear link between authoritarianism and bigotry. Whether in France, Japan, Uganda or the US, right-wing groups will almost always be nationalistic, anti-immigrant, pro-tradition, religiously intolerant, etc.

        You point out that the modern Republican party has gone in an “ugly direction”, and I agree. But I try and imagine modern liberals going in an ugly direction – anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, etc. I suppose we could try and imagine a populist, cultural right embracing left-wing economic politics, and splintering off from a cultural left. But they would likely be doing so not out of a sense of empathy but out of craven in-group-interest. The difficulty of this conceptualization seems less to do with the unpredictability of political coalitions and more to do with a global shift towards liberal social values and a basic social temperament that is in-group, self oriented and has a natural affinity with free market principles that thrive on the removal of any capital critique that forces one to grapples with structural inequality across ethnic and gender lines (which leads naturally into a deconstruction of other traditional institutions of privilege). It is much easier for them to discount, ignore or de-empathize the disenfranchised plight of those without capital for cultural reasons, which then translates into an affinity with economic policy which relies on a lack of empathy. Sadly, I think it goes in the other direction too, where a free market economic position makes it easier to de-empathize (“greed is good, etc.”).

        • Eli says

          Sorry, this behemoth of a sentence should have read: “The difficulty of this conceptualization seems less to do with the unpredictability of political coalitions, and more to do with a global shift towards liberal social values *that causes those with* a basic social temperament that is in-group, self oriented *having* a natural affinity with free market principles that thrive on the removal of any capital critique that forces one to grapples with structural inequality across ethnic and gender lines (which leads naturally into a deconstruction of other traditional institutions of privilege)”

        • James Wimberley says

          “More than one billion people in China are living under a rather gaping Maoist exception to your alleged rule.” This is like saying the British are governed by a hereditary monarchy.

        • says

          I think left wingers are just as capable as being authoritarian as right wingers are, and there are also some non-authoritarian right-leaning libertarians as well.

          But the rest of your list– tribalism, xenophobia, nationalism, traditionalism– yeah, that’s basically the right wing axis. And anyone who thinks about it for 5 seconds can see why both why racists would align with the group that espouses those values and why people who espouse those values might often be racist.

  8. Manju says

    the [next generation of] Southern racists moved into the welcoming arms of the GOP, creating today’s lineup.

    Is this accurate? Below, I the 33 Governors and Senators from the 11 former confederate states in 1964. Then their heirs, along with the year the incumbent was no more.

    AL
    1967 George Wallace [D] Lurleen Wallace [D]
    1969 J. Lister Hill [D] James Allen [D]
    1979 John Sparkman [D] Howell Heflin [D]

    AK
    1967 Orval Faubus [D] Winthrop Rockefeller[R]
    1975 J. William Fulbright [D] Dale Bumpers [D]
    1977 John L. McClellan [D] Kaneaster Hodges, Jr.[D]

    FL
    1967 W. Haydon Burns [D] Claude R. Kirk, Jr. [D]
    1969 George Smathers [D] Edward J. Gurney [R]
    1971 Spessard Holland[D] Lawton Chiles [D]

    GA
    1967 Carl E. Sanders [D] Lester Maddox [D]
    1971 Richard Russell, Jr.[D] David H. Gambrell [D]
    1981 Herman E. Talmadge[D] Mack Mattingly [R]

    LA
    1972 John J. McKeithen [D] Edwin W. Edwards [D]
    1972 Allen J. Ellender [D] Elaine S. Edwards [D]
    1987 Russell B. Long [D] John Breaux [D]

    MS
    1968 Paul B. Johnson, Jr.[D] John Bell Williams [D]
    1978 James Eastland [D] Thad Cochran [R]
    1989 John C. Stennis [D] Trent Lott [R]

    NC
    1969 Dan K. Moore [D] Robert W. Scott [D]
    1973 B. Everett Jordan [D] Jesse Helms [R]
    1975 Sam Ervin [D] Robert B. Morgan[D]

    TN
    1967 Frank G. Clement [D] Buford Ellington[D]
    1967 Ross Bass [D] Howard Baker [R]
    1971 Albert Gore, Sr.[D] Bill Brock [R]

    TX
    1969 John Connally [D] Preston Smith [D]
    1971 Ralph Yarborough[D] Lloyd Bentsen [D]
    1985 John Tower [R] Phil Gramn [R]

    SC
    1971 Robert McNair [D] John C. West [D]
    1965 Donald S. Russell[D] Fritz Hollings [D]
    1964 Strom Thurmond [D] Strom Thurmond [R]

    VA
    1966 Albertis S. Harrison, Jr.[D] Mills E. Godwin, Jr. [D]
    1966 A. Willis Robertson [D] William B. Spong, Jr. [D]
    1970 Harry F. Byrd, Jr. [D] Harry F. Byrd, Jr. [I]

    31 D’s in 1964 and 2 R’s. Next Gen: 22-23 D’s and 10 R’s.

    re: figureheads: Lurleen Wallace[D] and Elaine Edwards [D]…they were followed by Albert Brewer [D] and Bennett Johnston jr [D]

    • Manju says

      Re: Next Gen: 22-23 D’s and 10 R’s.

      Harry Byrd went Independent but caucused with the D’s.

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