(Jacksonville, Fla.)—Reading The Florida Times-Union on Monday, I re-read a passage twice before accepting the reporter hadn’t misquoted his source. I even read it aloud to my hound dog to see if he was as confused as I was. The Democratic Party Chairman in Duval County made remarks about 503 Democrats “defecting” to the Republican Party during the general election. Chairman Travis Bridges said, “It’s just a suspicion that a lot of them were ‘Dixie-crats’ who were voting Republican anyway.”
I don’t know about the rest of the nation, but in the South, the term ‘Dixiecrat’ without the hyphen is usually leveled at those perceived as racist. In truth, Dixiecrats were not confined to the Republican Party and nor was the short-lived Dixiecrat/State’s Rights Democratic Party enduring. It lasted for one election. The party was a Democratic product.
Bridges can be forgiven because some public school teachers in civics classes often explain that the modern Republican Party grew because of racism when Democrats fled their own party in anger over civil rights legislation. I can make that claim about education with confidence because at times I have argued with a number of my children’s teachers about U.S. and world history.
Myth is a powerful political weapon.
Liberals are incredulous at any voter who didn’t bubble in the circle by Sen. Barack Obama’s name on the form in the last election, but it was easy for me to refrain from voting for the Democratic candidate, and my decision had nothing to do with racism. There were five simple reasons I cast a vote for Sen. John McCain: (1) Taxes, (2) Partial birth abortion, (3) Earmarks, (4) Nancy Pelosi and (5) Harry Reid. Nowhere in that string of reasons is a shred of racism.
What Bridges said verges on the reprehensible. So I am assuming he simply didn’t do his research. Media hasn’t either because no one, not even the reporter who wrote the story, asked him about his statement.
Diane Alden is a political expert who has written about Republicans and civil rights issues. Alden, writing for Newsmax in 2002, addressed former Sen. Bob Kerry’s remarks insinuating the GOP is a racist party. Kerry had made those remarks after former Sen. Trent Lott toasted the late Sen. Strom Thurmond by saying things would’ve been better had Thurmond, who ran on the States’ Rights Democratic Party ticket in 1948, won that election.
Alden said Kerry “maintained that all the Dixiecrats became Republicans shortly after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, another big lie. Richard Russell, Mendell Rivers, Clinton's mentor William Fulbright, Robert Byrd, Fritz Hollings and Al Gore Sr. remained Democrats till their dying day.”
It must be pointed out that Sen. Byrd is still alive. When he stands on the Senate floor with his eyes closed, he is taking a brief nap.
Alden goes Kerry and Bridges one further, and her statement should be inscribed in every text book in the land. She wrote, “In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.”
I think Bridges owes his “defectors” an apology. My hound dog concurs.
Source: Republicans and Civil Rights