In a recent webcam commencement presentation, former-President Barack Obama ambiguously “explained” that COVID-19 has (somehow) reconfirmed deep-seated American racism. Conflating the pandemic with America’s history of racism, Obama told graduates, “No generation has been better positioned to be warriors for justice and remake the world.”
But, there is little evidence that Americans, even new graduates, want a “remade” world. Americans, generally, would prefer returning to the January, 2020, world when America’s economy was booming, unemployment was 3.5%, incomes were rising most quickly among lower-income workers, and people could freely gather.
Sadly, for Obama and many others on the left, citing “racism” is a pattern, a default setting, a cynical, bad-faith device designed to shame/silence their critics and advance liberal policy goals. Sycophantic, ideological allies may buy, even encourage Obama’s fiction, but, they’re wrong, both morally and historically.
The left constantly mocks rural Americans (“Pennsyltucky,” “deplorables,” “bitter clingers”) and dismisses the entire South as ignorant hicks, yet cannot understand why liberal Democrats lose elections in rural areas and the South.
Undaunted, liberals blame “racism,” a rationalization which allows invidious losers to “win” by feeling even more justified, self-righteous, and superior.
But, it takes irremediable ignorance – or intellectual dishonesty – to perpetuate the myths that Republicans and Democrats “switched places” on racial issues in the 1960s, that Democrats’ electoral losses in the South are its consequences, or that the South’s political realignment is evidence of Republican bigotry and racism.
Eighty percent of congressional Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 compared to only sixty-one percent of Democrats. For decades thereafter, Democrats controlled a majority of Southern governorships, Senate seats, and state legislatures.
With only one exception, Senate segregationist “Dixiecrats,” including Al Gore, Sr. and former-Klansman Robert Byrd, remained Democrats.
It’s preposterous to assert that white Southerners were so enraged by the 1964 Act that they became Republicans, but then waited thirty years until 1994 to express their “fury” in House elections.
Republican Dwight Eisenhower – a champion of civil-rights legislation who forced genuine desegregation of the military and federal agencies – won a larger share of the Southern vote in 1956 than Civil Rights Act critic Barry Goldwater did in 1964.
Mississippi elected one Republican governor during the entire 20th Century – in 1992. Alabama didn’t elect a Republican governor until 1987. Louisiana waited until 2014 to unseat its last Democratic senator, years after electing a man of color as governor.
Black voters’ party realignment began with FDR’s New Deal, but FDR also won white Southern voters. In fact, black voters continued switching to the Democrats at a time when Democratic Senator Lyndon Johnson still opposed civil rights and anti-lynching legislation.
Presidential elections from 1968 to 1988 reveal no Republican Southern dominance. Republicans won the South in 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 while doing well in the rest of the country, including two 49-state victories. Republicans lost the South in 1968 and 1976.
The Republican “Southern strategy” had no racial component. It was designed to attract Southern working-class transplants from the Midwest and Northeast – and it didn’t succeed until long after white racism became a fringe issue.
A new generation of Southern Republicans emerged only after Southern Democrats joined their Northern colleagues in abandoning traditional Jeffersonian democratic principles by granting the federal government ever-expanding powers.
Democrat George Wallace blocked a schoolhouse door. Barack Obama still encourages racial politics. For years, Democrats have exploited race to politically profit from racial divisions, yet, having controlled America’s worst cities and the African-American vote for decades, Democrats have created many, but solved no problems in black communities.
There was no 1960s Democrat/Republican party switch on racism and civil rights, nonetheless, after more than a century of party opposition, Democrats are dishonestly claiming sole credit for the difficult work of achieving black civil rights – successes impossible without historical support from white Republicans beginning with Abraham Lincoln, beyond the 1960s, that continues today.
Democrats/liberals who repeat old “racist” fiction, and attempt to equate it to unrelated matters like COVID-19, either aren’t paying attention or don’t care about facts.
Clearly, Barack Obama isn’t and doesn’t.