The idea that the modern day Democratic Party is the political party that really has blood on its hands from opposing integration is being advanced more frequently these days among some conservatives, but mostly at the fringes of the Republican Party. Until now. No longer is it just fringe revisionism.
In its defense of Rand Paul’s libertarian opposition to the Civil Rights Acts, the National Republican Senatorial Committee made this “idea” an official party talking point yesterday. NRSC spokesperson Brian Walsh blasted an email to reporters, writing: “As a side note, I would point out the irony - which seems to have been lost in some of the news coverage — that the same party seeking to manufacture this issue today, is in fact the same political party which led the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act in 1964.”
So there you have it right out in the open. The modern political party with a bad track record on civil rights is … the Democratic Party.
We got in touch with Princeton historian Sean Wilentz to expound on this point. Like anyone else who knows the real history of the last half century, Wilentz isn’t buying the revisionism:
Everybody knows that in 1964, a proud southern Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson, pushed hard to secure the Civil Rights Bill, with the aid of a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans. This sent the defeated segregationist Southern Democrats (led by Strom Thurmond) fleeing into the Republican Party, where its remnants, along with a younger generation of extremist conservative white southerners, including Rand Paul, still reside.
Evan McMorris-Santoro has our report.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.