What Fresh Hell Is This?

January 22, 2012

Salena Zito and The Dixiecrats

Let's start, without comment, with something the Salena Zito of the Tribune-Review wrote.  Give her the first word, as it were, and then fill in the blanks:
Grantham, 47, reflects the once-proud Southern white Democrats that the party began bleeding in 1948 during a convention battle between civil-righters and Dixiecrat states'-righters. The Republican Party really didn't capitalize on that until 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower won some Southern states.

Richard Nixon developed the strategy of competing in the Deep South -- then, typically barren land for Republicans. While his results were mixed, his brilliant move marked the start of the South turning on Democrats.
Now, let's take a look at the Dixiecrat's party platform in 1948 - if only to see just what flavor of "states'-rights" it was.  There certainly won't be much controversy with how the platform begins:
- 1 -

We believe that the Constitution of the United States is the greatest charter of human liberty ever conceived by the mind of man.

- 2 -

We oppose all efforts to invade or destroy the rights guaranteed by it to every citizen of this republic.

- 3 -

We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totallitaran, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions.
Ok, maybe that last paragraph has a bit more of an edge to it than we're used to seeing, but on the other hand, who would have been in favor of a "totalitarian, centralized bureaucratic government" then? Or now, for that matter?  I think that's what you'd call a "straw man" argument.

It's in the next three sections where the Dixiecrat reality becomes strikingly obvious:
- 4 -

We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to learn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.

- 5 -

We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiatt, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.

- 6 -

We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national orgin in appreciable numbers.
This is what Salena Zito boiled down into the simple and yet oh so misleading phrase "states'-righters."  Take a look again at what those Dixiecrats were against:
  • Desegregation
  • Interracial marriage
  • Race-neutral employment and voting opportunities
In short, basic civil rights for African-Americans.  That's the tradition of "the once-proud Southern white Democrats that the party began bleeding in 1948" to the Republican Party.  And this isn't me saying it, it's an expert Zito herself quotes:
"As a new generation developed, the people who were conservative Democrats and Dixiecrats mostly became Republicans," explained Bert Rockman, Purdue University political science professor.
It wasn't until after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the South turned solidly against the Democratic Party - at a moment, as we're told:
When Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he told aide Bill Moyers that Democrats would face a backlash from the white Southerners who had been part of the Democratic coalition Franklin Roosevelt forged. "We have lost the South for a generation," he warned.
Now go back to what Zito wrote, think about all that you read above.  Who left the Democratic Party?  And where did they go?  Now imagine what Zito wanted you to think.

Now ask yourself: How different are those two ideas?


spork_incident said...

Democrats are the real racists because shut up.

(Thought I'd get that out of the way.)


Conservative Mountaineer said...

Maybe they left because they didn't AGREE with those beliefs.

Remember, the Democrats voted AGAINST the Civil Rights Act.

Conservative Mountaineer said...

Should have said Southern Democrats.. in all fairness, many Southern Republicans also voted against (albeit, the number of House/Senate Republicans was much less).

Original House Bill
House Southern Democrats 7 Y 87 N
House Southern Republicans 0 Y 10 N

Original Senate Bill
Senate Southern Democrats 1 Y 20 N
Senate Southern Republicans 0 Y 1 N

Source: wikipedia

Dayvoe said...


Glad you corrected yourself.

And as Zito's already asserted, it was those southern Democrats who left the Democratic party and joined the GOP.

Which was, if you'll check, my point.

EdHeath said...

Hmm, CM, you said "in all fairness, many Southern Republicans also voted against" (I like the "In all fairness" phrase). Your use of the word "many" implies at that some, or at least one Southern Republican Congressperson voted for the Civil Rights Act. But according to the numbers you give us, No Southern Republicans voted for the Civil Rights bill. Maybe something changed with the conference bill, but you don't tell us about it.

Maybe the word "many" was a typo.