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Elegy for my Republican party

I've always found it sad that the Democrats get away with demonizing Republicans on issues like civil rights. The other day, when an African-American congressman made the absurd statement that Democrats gave African-Americans the right to vote (100% of the members of Congress who voted for the 15th Amendment were, in fact, Republicans; the only Democrats who didn't vote against it were the seven who abstained), it was only an extreme example of Democrats' habit of misrepresenting the record.

My Republican party didn't simply play a key role in supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the support of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill) is generally seen as the clincher in getting it passed). It led the charge. When President Kennedy dragged his feet in submitting civil rights legislation it was the pro-active introduction of their own bill by three Republican congressmen which finally spurred him to action. Throughout most of the party's history, it's been Republicans who have been the good guys when it came to civil rights, and the Democrats the party of the Klan and the bigots.

Already in 1964 Barry Goldwater- himself a decent man and hardly a racist- chose to oppose the Civil Rights Act on technical constitutional grounds. The man who ended up being his main opponent for the Republican presidential nomination that year, Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton, ran against him in no small measure because of that, and described himself in his announcement of candidacy as "a liberal on civil rights, a conservative on foreign policy, and an internationalist in world affairs."

That last is one more tradition the GOP has abandoned this year.

The majority of the South- many motivated by less worthy considerations- suddenly moved into the Republican camp. And this year the GOP has formally adopted the Democrats' mantle. This year the head of the KKK has endorsed Donald Trump. In this as in so many ways, Trump has made the lies Democrats have been telling all these years about Republicans come true- sadly, lies Republicans have been enabling for decades by taking positions which, however nobly intended, are subject to malicious misinterpretation.

I don't agree with everything in this article. The notion that suppressing the vote in African-American communities is the purpose of voter ID laws is ridiculous, self-serving propaganda. The problem is precisely the proclivity of the Democrats for vote fraud among the disempowered, where they can get away with it and nobody who might object is watching very closely.

I cannot be a Democrat. I cannot support a party which even now denies civil rights to the unborn and misuses that banner to advance socially destructive special agendas which undermine the very foundations of society. All the rhetoric to the contrary, marriage redefinition and allied abominations are most emphatically not civil rights issues.

 But I can- I must- ask the same question John Nichols asks in the article: what ever happened to the real party of equality? How did my Republican party become the party of Donald Trump? Since the Democrats even now refuse the mantle, why are the Republicans not still the party of equality and civil rights for all Americans?

What ever happened to my Republican party- to the part of Lincoln?


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