democrats and republicans

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

A scholar calling himself “HortonVidz!” said:

“LMFAO the parties never switched. That’s a myth the democrat leaders made up because they needed to keep power and couldn’t think of anything else. It’s funny that people are dumb enough to believe it. Look at today. Democrats are now slaving Latino’s saying some bullshit excuse like, “we need them to do hard jobs.” HA! Democrats never changed.”

I replied:

I actually feel embarrassed for you.

Southern Democrats always favored slavery because they were a working class from a different economic system so they had different interests.  They were aspiring slaveholders who worked as farmers in an agrarian economy. Northern Democrats were aspiring business owners who worked as wage laborers in an industrializing economy.

As for the mid-19th century Republicans who were working class, they didn’t see much of a difference between slavery and wage labor.  They were the American equivalent of the socialist left in Europe, to the degree that the organization of which Karl Marx was a member even wrote Lincoln a letter commending him for taking a hard line against slavery.  A member of Lincoln’s administration wrote him back.

You can read both letters here:

Just as an aside here, Ambassador Adams’s responded to this gesture of support from the International Working Men’s Association with the following:

“So far as the sentiments expressed by [the letter] are personal, they are accepted by him with a sincere and anxious desire that he may be able to prove himself not unworthy of the confidence which has been recently extended to him by his fellow citizens and by so many of the friends of humanity and progress throughout the world.

Anyone familiar with the history of the American Civil War and with the intellectual history of the Socialist and Communist Left in Europe knows that these are not hollow words.

At any rate, so, I mean, did you think Lincoln was the forefather of the modern party of “state’s rights?”  Think about it, bro.  Lincoln?  The guy who invaded the Southern States precisely because he disagreed that they had the right to secede over slavery or anything else?

There’s no mystery here about modern Republicans, nor is there some serious scholarly debate raging somewhere about this. They are the descendants of Southern Democrats, who were the supporters of slavery.

The split between both working classes surfaced even before the Civil War.  Later, in the 1930s, the Southerners were united with the Northern Democrats during the New Deal when FDR’s administration was building dams through the Tennessee Valley Authority and giving deeply backward people electricity and indoor plumbing for the first time.  Even as far back as the 1930s, the Northern States were subsidizing the far more expensive, personally responsible, hard working Southern States, just as they still do today.  The Southerners, of course, broke again with the northern working class during the Civil Rights Movement.

The post-war Northern Democrats understood that this could happen and this is why Kennedy was at first loathe to support protesters who wanted to challenge segregation.  It’s also why Johnson is reported to have said “we have lost the South for a generation” after signing the Civil Rights Act (there’s some debate about if he actually said this though).

The racist rubes in the South simmered over desegregation and flocked to a newly politicized “Moral Majority” mega church right wing religiosity after their defeat in the culture wars.  There they blubbered, wailed, danced with snakes, and read Hal Lindsey books about the coming rapture until Reagan plugged the them back into the GOP at the end of the 1970s by appealing to their resentment.  During his campaign he used dog whistles like “welfare queens” which they understood to mean “black women” and “states rights,” which they understood to mean “segregation.”  The strategy didn’t even originate with Reagan, but with Nixon.  They called it, imaginatively enough, “the Southern Strategy.”

Here, if you don’t believe me, you can listen to Lee Atwater, a political consultant to the Republican party, explaining it in 1981 when he was a member of the Reagan administration:

Ian Haney Lopez recently wrote an excellent book about this.  Since I can assume you’ll never read it, here’s a link to an interview he did with Bill Moyers in which he explains what I just explained:

So, by the end of the 1970s, the racist, embittered rubes whose ancestors lost the Civil War rallied around their reactionary savior, threw their support behind the GOP, and gave Reagan the license he needed to set the country on the course to plutocracy.

Instead of being the hoodwinked bottom feeding working class that supported the wealthy plantation owners because they believed they too would have their own slaves one day, they became the hoodwinked bottom feeding working class that supported Wall St. and corporations because they believed they would have their own wage slaves one day; instead of ending up lowly sharecroppers in debt to an elite of aristocratic landowners, they ended up lowly peons in debt to an elite of aristocratic bankers (along with the rest of us).

The South already rose again.  They won the war after all.  These are the results:

Modern working class Republicans are the political, cultural, and often biological descendants of yesterday’s working class Southern Democrats, the supporters of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and, often enough, the guys who joined the Klan and burnt the crosses.

You realize voting patterns are well studied, right?  Like… we know where people who vote live, yeah?  There was no mass exodus of people from the South to the North and from the North to South in the 1970s that went unnoticed.  This history is well known, well studied, and was even understood for what it was when it was happening by all sides.  We know that the South used to vote Democrat, now it votes Republican.  The Northern working class used to vote Republican, now it votes Democrat.

As an aside here, you realize that this is why the GOP makes taxation such an issue, right?  It isn’t simply because they want lower taxes for corporations, it’s because the taxation issue is a culture war wedge which allows them to appeal to the coded racism of their formerly Southern Democratic base.  In the same way that the rubes hear “black women” when somebody says “welfare queens,” when they hear “taxation” and “handouts” what they hear is “punishing white people” and “lazy blacks and immigrants getting free shit while I’m at work all day.”

They’ve been doing this since Reagan.  In fact, it’s the only real populist card they have to play in a country which has seen stagnating or declining wages for the vast majority of its population in spite of astronomical growth of productivity and corporate profit. See, it’s a way of being able to tap into racial resentment without actually having to come right out and say it.  Thankfully for them, the angry mouth-breathers in S. Carolina and Alabama haven’t caught on to the crude and blatantly obvious divide and conquer scheme yet, not in over 30 years of this bullshit.

None of this is ancient history.  It’s very much our political and social present.  It’s the main reason that Donald Trump is doing so well in the polls, in fact.

Seriously, reading comments like yours makes me feel embarrassed for you.  It’s like I’m watching a retarded person drool or a homeless person piss himself.  Just stop already.  Jesus.  Next you’ll be telling us about how dinosaurs didn’t exist or how Hitler was a left winger because he didn’t eat meat and liked animals or because “National Socialism” has “socialist” in the name.  I’m pretty sure “National” refers to nationalism and we can bet you’re a nationalist, but hey whatever.

Why don’t you actually spend some time with the history instead of assuming that because you heard this garbage on some right wing talk show or read it on some poorly-written blog that it must be true and so you can go on parroting it under the mistaken impression that it look as if you actually spent any time studying this.  Yeah, dude, like nobody will catch on.  You’re totally fooling everybody.  Everybody thinks you have a history PhD.  Good one.

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