(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
In many way the Civil War and the legacy of slavery has never left us. I was struck by this when listening to the Tea Party's glee in shutting down the government. It reminded me of a period in Democratic Party history when a retrograde faction attempted to disrupt and destroy their party and the democratic process. The States' Rights Democratic Party (usually called the Dixiecrats) was a political faction in the United States that attempted to run a candidate in 1948 to protect the southern way of life beset by an oppressive federal government.
In practice this meant opposing racial integration and retention of Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in the face of federal law and intervention. The offenses that drove southern Democrats to rebel? Truman ordered the end of racial discrimination in the U.S. Army, proposed the creation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission, supported the elimination of state poll taxes (which effectively discriminated against poor blacks and whites), and supported drafting federal anti-lynching laws–how unamerican.
"I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches." Strom Thurmond
This was the concession speech of Strom Thurmond for his candidacy based on opposing a law that white people shouldn't be allowed to hang black people. I find echos of this statement in Tea Party Republicans opposition to a minor bit of insurance reform, a tool to help consumers shop and a requirement that people who can afford insurance buy it instead of waiting to have the government pick up the tab.
Here is the difference; The Democratic Party integrated the Army within 2 years, used the federal government to prosecute lynching (granted, the first conviction under federal civil rights law in 1946 resulted in a sentence of $1,000 fine and one year in prison lynching–still a lot of work to do), and used the tools of the federal government to fight poll taxes.
Though the Democrats were slower to embrace the progressive civil rights policies that had long been the strength of the Republican party, when they were brought into the Democratic party by FDR (and maybe more so by Eleanor), leadership of the Democratic party didn't kowtow to the Dixiecrats and their threats. Leadership stated flatly this is where we are going, you can live with it or not. Some did reluctantly like Russell Long (LA), who I doubt was ever comfortable with racial integration, others more enthusiastically like William Fulbright (AR), who felt a profound guilt and changed his voting pattern in the late 60's despite having a small African American population in his state.
Instead of Leadership kowtowing to the hardline retrograde elements in the party, they allowed them the door. Needing to find a home that fed their extremist 19th century vision of the world they left the Democratic Party and joined one looking for shock troops to fight the federal government. It didn't matter that the party they were joining, the Republicans, fought the federal government because they feared federal interference with business's exploitation of workers, consumers, small competitors and the environment, not out of racial animus.
Over time, fighting the government being the one thing that bound them together, the GOP morphed from appearing as the party of northeastern bankers who wanted to screw workers, into White Hezbollah, the party of G-d for white people. Behind the scenes the Bankers still controlled the party, but put on the face it was the southern Dixiecrat of 50 years ago.
Unfortunately, today the bankers can no longer control the beast they created and the Dixiecrats, or as they are now known Tea Partiers, are not interested in the future, they are interested in things going back to the past. A past where people lived in the country, minorities were furniture or entertaining caricatures, and things were never like they imagined them to be.
I never thought I would say this, and I will fight you tomorrow for our visions of the future; but at least you have one. Bankers, for the love of the future, don't let the dixiecrats determine our destiny, because they have no vision of the future.