The Party of Lincoln Is Dead

There have been a number of recent polls and news stories that have made think of this question:  What’s the difference between the Republican Party and the KKK?  Based on recent news stories, the answer is sadly “The Republicans aren’t wearing sheets.”    The party that gave the country Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower?  The one that wrote the 13′th through the 15′th Amendments, and seminal civil rights legislation?  That party is dead.  The party which bears its name is not that party.

What convinced me of this is a recent poll:  51% of Republican primary voters are birthers.  Yes, that’s right.  A majority of Republicans think he wasn’t born in this country, with an additional solid percentage who “aren’t sure,” despite actual facts to the contrary.  That goes along with the number who think he’s a Muslim, again, facts to the contrary.      I have never heard a request for a birth certificate, until this.  Even when one was shown – and yes, independently verified – it wasn’t “good enough.”  Never mind that it would stand up in any court in the country, and that several people who knew his parents in Hawaii have said that he was born there.  Never mind that one of the major flaps in the campaign was over the pastor of his church.  There are still people – and predominantly Republicans – who believe that he wasn’t born in this country and that he’s a Muslim.  I’ve been through a number of Presidencies, with my memory stretching back to JFK.  Not once, up until 2008, have I ever heard a President’s citizenship or religion questioned.   I’ve heard every other sort of accusation and charges, but not that.   It wasn’t even asked of the Presidents who actually had different names from their birth names.  Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, if you’re curious.

Any claims that it’s just a “legitimate concern” are complete bullshit.  The fact that this only started when a black man with a non Anglo-Saxon name became President is the telling point.  The fact that it continues – and apparently is the belief of a majority of the Republican Party – is a solid indicator that it’s simply due to his being black.   Need more indicators that it’s now the Party’s policy, not just random individuals?  Well, you have Haley Barbour defending the honoring of the  founder of the KKK.  Not surprising, given that he had fond memories of KKK organizations from his youth.

Then you have the whole assault on the 14′th Amendment.  Birthright citizenship is being called a “loophole,” because after all, brown people are getting citizenship simply by being born in this country!  The reality that this has been the law of the land since the beginning is ignored by the Republicans.   In fact, the 14′th Amendment was simply the codification – and meant to be so - of that principle.  There’s over a century of Supreme Court decisions on that very fact.  It’s not a “loophole,” it’s the law, and it’s been a principle determinant of citizenship since the day the Constitution was ratified.

It’s interesting to look back at the KKK.

The second KKK preached Americanism and purification of politics, with a heavy tome of racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and antisemitism.

Substitute “Islam” for “Catholicism,” and you’re getting pretty close to what you hear coming out the the Republicans – and their Tea Party activists – today.   The only difference is they’re not wearing sheets or burning crosses.

26 Comments

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26 responses to “The Party of Lincoln Is Dead

  1. Eric

    Tell it, Norbrook! When some well meaning folks state ‘other presidents have had it worse regarding criticism’ I will point them to this blog entry.

  2. Bobfr

    “The only difference is they’re not wearing sheets or burning crosses.”

    No need to when they have Fox News broadcasting their hate, bigotry and threats to our Constitutional rights – every day.

    You are correct. The Party of Lincoln, …, began its inexorable path to the teahadist organization it now is when R Reagan entered office and there is simply no going back.

    It will be interesting to observe whether a legitimate opposition party to the Democratic Party emerges.

  3. Fonsia

    Indeed.

    Right now there are two “Republican” parties: the Corporate Party and the Confederate Party (as Dengre keeps writing about). The Corporates think they can use the Confederates, but methinks they have the proverbial tiger by the tail.

    BTW, it’s 51% of primary voters, not 51% of the whole party, although the percentage of birthers in the whole party is somewhere in the 40s. Not all Republicans vote in primaries. Just the, um, motivated ones.

    And I expect it’s going to take decades for them to rebuild (unless they secede, which no doubt many of them will want after 2012). Old William F. Buckley was right back in the 50s: let the Birchers in and they will destroy the party.

    • I did say 51% of the primary voters. ;) It’s also in the 40 percent plus range who believe that Obama is a Muslim. But yes, I think the problem is, as they’re seeing in Congress now, that the reason Buckley was so adamant to get the Birchers out was because it is hurting them. Right now, from what I’m seeing in various other articles, even if they’re not “for” the Democratic Party, there’s a large number of voter blocks which are against the Republican Party. Given the demographic shifts and trends in this country, in the longer run – the next 20 years or so – the Republican Party is going to pay an awful price for this, and I really doubt there’s going to be another William F. Buckley around.

      • Fonsia

        (Yes, you did. I was responding to the second sentence following that.–small matter.)

        But I agree that the Rs are toast. The present-day Buckleys (if there are any) mostly have decided to cater to their Confederates. Only a few, such as Frum, have pointed out the obvious. And the demographic trends have been known for decades.

        But they’ve done so well with what’s really always been a motivated radical minority over the past three decades that they’ve decided to stick with ‘em, no matter how insane their “base” becomes.

        Toast. It’ll become clear in 2012, if not before.

        • Yes, the pandering is ridiculous – Donald Trump just earned a “pants on fire” rating from PolitiFact for his doing that at CPAC. Florida is now in an uproar because their Teapublican Governor just decided that he didn’t want the 2 billion in high-speed rail money, which is getting pushback from Republican legislators. He also stepped in it with the black legislators, when he tried to “identify” with them by talking about his being poor and in public housing when he was a kid – just like them. :roll:

          I’ve seen this in my own region – there’s starting to be a serious case of “buyer’s remorse” when it comes to these people. The reality of what they are doing is not what the voters thought they were voting for.

          I’ve seen a few of the more sane voices trying (failing, but they get points for trying) to point out that the ship is heading towards an iceberg. The Republicans rhetoric on immigration and birthright citizenship is hitting almost every nerve the Latino communities have. What their feeling is is that while the Democrats aren’t necessarily doing them much good, the Republicans are actively against them. No, I don’t think that will go away anytime soon, and it does not mean good things for the Republican Party in many areas of this country.

          • Dorothy Rissman

            Norbrook thanks for the diary. I am really hoping that you are right in terms of buyer’s remorse. Unfortunately these odious people who were elected to be governors have 3.5 more years to inflict their ridiculous ideas on the their constituents.

            As to the latino vote, I do hope they will understand that even if the road is difficult, they will fare much better withe democrats.

    • fleetadmiralj

      I think the percent of republicans in the poll who thought he wasn’t born in the US was actually 53%. Still not all republicans generally, just likely primary voters, but still.

      • What was interesting is that there’s only 28% who are sure he was born in the US – the others either think he wasn’t or “aren’t sure.”

    • Dorothy Rissman

      Fonsia, so nice to see your voice. dr

      • Fonsia

        Thanks. Been busy.
        My popcorn moment is going to be watching the teatards recalled.

        I think their winning year is going to turn out to be their downfall. They’ve misinterpreted why they won–it was because unemployment was still bad, not because people just love Republicans. So they’ve become insufferably arrogant, and they are pissing people off. Royally.

        I expect recalls, especially of that Wisconsin governor.

  4. majii

    Norbrook,

    As long as I’ve been living in America while black, there has been a certain segment of the population that cannot accept that a black person, especially a black male, can make any valuable contribution to the country, and frankly, I don’t see it ending any time soon. President Obama is following the usual path in dealing with the birthers. He’s ignoring them and working hard to prove them wrong. This is what got me through both high school and undergraduate school in GA from 1967-1974. President Obama will be okay, because Stanley knew what he’d face and taught him to focus on the important things and let the rest go, just as my parents taught me to do.

    Hopefully, in the future, America will look back with shame that millions of people hated a duly-elected president only because of the color of his skin. Their racism/bigotry toward people of color, gays , lesbians, trans-gendered persons, Muslims, atheists, etc, doesn’t make it any less painful for me to see, but I do have coping skills to deal with the ugliness, and I do have faith that these groups, along with others will triumph over evil in the end. When I was growing up, I never thought I’d see the day that I could go into any public facility of my choice, or that we’d elect a black man POTUS in my lifetime, but both happened. This is why I have faith that one day we’ll be able to effectively marginalize the racists and bigots again. I think the problem is that there is a lack of leadership within the Republican Party, and this is why neither Boehner nor Cantor will repudiate the birthers and Barbour won’t condemn the license plate to honor Forrest. GWB wasn’t the best of presidents, but he did keep the republicans in line.

    The majority of the republicans may not like President Obama, and that’s okay, but they definitely cannot deny that he exposed the putrid underbelly of racism and bigotry that lurks inside the ranks of the GOP. He also exposed the sniveling cowardice of the so-called leaders who are afraid to speak up for the right thing for fear of alienating the more radical members of the party and losing their votes. If you bring a barrel full of roaches into your house, dump them on the floor, and let them scamper into every corner, nook, and cranny, it would be almost impossible to remove them from the premises. The republicans opened their party to the birthers, racists, and bigots. They courted them heavily and answered yes to their every request. Now that they’re embarrassed by having invited them into their party, it’s very difficult to minimize their impact in order to recover enough to appeal to a wider audience of voters in 2012. The conservative voters will be hurt as much as independents and liberals as these tea party supported governors cut every service imaginable while making sure that their buddies in Big Oil and Big Business thrive. This just might be what it takes for them to finally wake up and realize that the republicans don’t care as much for them as they think they do.

    • The majority of the republicans may not like President Obama, and that’s okay, but they definitely cannot deny that he exposed the putrid underbelly of racism and bigotry that lurks inside the ranks of the GOP. He also exposed the sniveling cowardice of the so-called leaders who are afraid to speak up for the right thing for fear of alienating the more radical members of the party and losing their votes.

      I think the sane ones may realize it, but unfortunately, it appears that they’re quite good at keeping quiet about it or managing to do a good job of remaining in denial.

    • Dorothy Rissman

      Majii, thank you for your contribution in explaining the ignorance of so many. I guess it will always be true those who are uneducated and without reason will always hurt themselves in the end.

    • Nathan Katungi

      Hi majji,

      I like your positive thinking. I also hope that you may, in the long run, be proven right. Just as a cautionary tale: I urge you to take some time to study the history of Reconstruction and the subsequent ” white backlash” that ushered in the Jim Crow period.
      Although Republicans had been instrumental in engineering the passage of three “revolutionary” Amendments to the Constitution: The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, it did not take long for many of those Republicans to begin abandoning Blacks. Many Republicans abandoned Blacks because of the relentless campaign of white Democrats intent on restoring white supremacy. Ironically, many of those Republicans who betrayed blacks called themselves reformers and progressives, and they asserted that their mission was to end corruption in the Republican party. All of a sudden, Black participation in politics was seen as the source of that corruption. Instead of focusing on the vicious propaganda of white supremacist, and the violence that that propaganda incited; progressive Republicans preferred to focus on purifying the party. Many started regretting having supported Black participation in politics.
      Guess what? In the wake of Republican abandonment of Blacks, white supremacist were triumphant. Not only were they triumphant, but they also unleashed a reign of terror on the African American community that was, in many ways, worse than the terror they endured under slavery.
      It is true that slavery was maintained by violence. Masters had no qualms inflicting brutal punishment to remind the slaves of who had the monopoly of power. The level of brutality was even more heinous when it came to punishing those slaves, like Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner, who dared to organize rebellions. But one thing is for sure: Slave owners valued their slaves and they could not indiscriminately kill them without incurring serious economic losses. Of course all that changed once slaves were free.

      It is my humble opinion that the violence inflicted on Blacks during the Jim Crow period was probably worse than the violence under slavery because Blacks were no longer valuable. The fact that their allies in the Republican party abandoned them, and focused on other important things, should be a constant reminder to Blacks, and other oppressed groups to never take for granted what may appear to be progressive change.
      Just as so many of us, irrespective of race, color and gender, were euphoric in 2008 after the election of President Obama, imagine how Black and white abolitionists, like Fredrick Douglass and Charles Sumner, felt when Congress passed all those Amendments that opened up the system for Black participation. In less than five years after slavery was abolished you had blacks elected to office at all levels of government, local, state and federal. In the ten years following the passage of the 13th Amend. ending slavery you had Blacks elected to Congress-including two Black Senators representing Mississippi. Can you imagine the level of euphoria at the time?
      Yet, in a relatively very short time, everything crumbled! In 1860′s. 1870, and 1880′s Blacks were voting and holding elective offices. By the time the Twentieth Century opened, you would be hard pressed to find a black elected official at any level. A child born in 1900, of any race, reached adulthood without ever seeing any person of color in position of political power. It took sixty years to begin to change that, and over a hundred years to elect a president.
      The importance of Norbrook’s post is that it alerted us as to what’s going on in a party that just took over one chamber of Congress. It should also alert sane people: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, who, for some reasons I still don’t understand, hate Obama so much that they are unwittingly voting for people who are bent on taking the country back to the era of triumphant white supremacy.

      • There have been several “movements” like this throughout our history – the “No Nothing” Party was pretty much the same prior to this. I chose the KKK specifically because many of the factors that led to its rise in the 20′s as a major factor in many areas are what are there today – and yes, it’s at its core bigoted. What is also interesting is that while actual Klan membership as a percentage of the population wasn’t that great, even in its strongholds, the number of politicians who pandered to it, or, even if they weren’t members themselves, went along with their program or excused it was pretty high. Which is what I see today in Republicans.

        • Nathan Katungi

          I absolutely agree with you Norbrook about the various nativist movements in American history. Although the origins of KKK go back to the period after the Civil War when slavery was abolished, I now realize that your focus was on what some historians have called the 2nd KKK. The 2nd KKK re-emerged in the 1920′s and spread across America. The 1st KKK was purely a Southern white supremacist movement determined to restore white supremacy in response to the laws that freed the slaves and later enfranchised them. The KKK of the Reconstruction era appeared to have died out after Southern States restored White Supremacy and ended Reconstruction. The 2nd KKK, which was revived in the 1920′s, was not limited to the South; it had chapters in many Northern states. It also expanded the list of its enemies to include not only Blacks but also Jews and Catholics.

          I also appreciate your insight when you argue that there are certain similarities between the unprecedented power exercised by the 2nd KKK and the power that Teabaggers currently seem to be wielding over the GOP. This statement of yours really highlights the political similarities between the 2nd KKK of the 1920′s and the so called Tea Party movement: “while actual Klan membership as a percentage of the population wasn’t that great, even in its strongholds, the number of politicians who pandered to it, or, even if they weren’t members themselves, went along with their program or excused it was pretty high.”
          I doubt that the die hard Teabaggers are more than 20% of the U. S. population. Yet, just like the KKK in the 1920-1950′s, Teabaggers are exerting such enormous political power on the Republican party.

      • majii

        You are so right, Nathan. It’s a shame that many Americans don’t know the history of their own country. I taught high school social studies for 33 years which included U.S. History, world history, and civics until 2009. Many republicans today like to bash blacks because they say that we should be “grateful” because it was the Republican Party that added Amendments 13-15 to the Constitution. They don’t realize that the Republican Party of the 1860s is not the RP of 2011. IMO, this makes it easier for them to delude themselves into ignoring the ways that the RP changed over time and not realize that there is a huge difference between the Radical Republicans of the 19th Century and the “Radical” Republicans of 2011. The RRs of the 19th Century were far more progressive than today’s Republican Party.

    • dannie22

      Great comment

  5. Hey Norbrook – have you been checking your email?

  6. Nathan Katungi

    Norbrook,

    This is really a very profound analysis of the current state of the Republican Party. I too have been around since JFK and I never imagined that the Republican party would be this blatantly, and overtly, racist. People really forget that the Republican party of President Eisenhower still had a large faction of liberal and moderate Republicans who supported Civil Rights. In fact, people forget that it was the Southern Democrats who violently opposed Civil Rights Bills. in the aftermath of the passage of Civil Rights laws, and following the lead of Strom Thurmond (Trent Lott’s hero), white Southerners, who had been part of FDR’s New Deal coalition, abandoned the Democratic party and joined the Republican party. What were are now witnessing is the triumph of white supremacists who have completely taken over the Republican party. It is indeed tragic to see the party of Abraham Lincoln, Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens and Frederick Douglass come to this state. I am almost certain that if Nathaniel Bedford Forrest (founder of KKK), Thomas Dixon (author of “The Clansman” the novel that gave birth to the movie “Birth of the Nation”), and William J. Simmons (the founder of the second KKK), were alive to day, they would be enthusiastic members of the Republican party.

    • I don’t automatically attribute things to racism. I understand that there are regional or local usage of terms that may not be offensive or even racist in those areas, but are considered that way in others. I understand that racism can and has been used as an excuse, not a reason. I even understand that there’s times people will say something just plain stupid.

      It was a preponderance of evidence that made me come to this conclusion. It was a constant litany of examples, excuses made for the examples, and the continuance of them when it was pointed out how offensive it was. Watching various politicians jump on their soapbox to defend it was just a clincher.

  7. lilaf1

    The sad thing is that sheets were used to hide the identities of the racists because even they knew, at least subconsciously, that what they were doing was wrong. Today, they don’t even have the self awareness to want to hide their identities when spouting their most hateful, racist lies. That this is what remains of a once proud, political party is very sad.

  8. Aquagranny911

    The Repugnant party has gone so far off the deep end that they have fallen off their “flat earth” theory.

    Great diary!