Accepting the Obvious

The Legacy of Slavery and the Democratic Party

I write as someone who voted for Democrats for most of my voting life, who voted for Jorgensen this past presidential election, who has no loyalty to any party, but only to the beautiful dream of this Republic.

Tom Steyer, presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 2020, said in an interview with Yahoo News regarding the legacy of slavery:

“I don’t think we can be the country that we want to be until we acknowledge the past and move to accept the mistakes this country made that are dramatic and obvious, and then repair the damage.”

This sentiment has become pretty popular among Democrats lately.

Obama, speaking about the legacy of slavery in 2015 said:

“What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — you know, that casts a long shadow. And that's still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it.”

The House will be voting on HR 40, a bill to create a commission to study slavery reparations for black Americans soon; it was advanced in April, after being rejected every year for 30 years. Biden has stated that he would support a commission.

80% of Americans polled by Reuters though disagreed that the United States should use “taxpayer money to pay damages to the descendants of enslaved people in the United States.” However, about 1/3 of Democrats agreed while 80% of Republicans didn’t. That split is very interesting. Democrats are a lot more likely to support using taxpayer money to pay for reparations than Republicans.

Despite the overwhelming disapproval of reparations by Americans, according to a Pew study a majority of Americans do still think that the legacy of slavery affects black people in the United States today — 63%. There is also a split for the two parties regarding that as well:

“Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party (80%) are far more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners (43%) to say the legacy of slavery still affects the situation of black people in American society today.”

Many Democratic politicians, rather than supporting reparations, support expanding government social welfare to all Americans, thereby affecting black Americans the most, as they are most likely to benefit from social welfare programs, statistically. Thus, Progressive economic and social policies are proposed as a way of addressing the legacy of slavery.

For a political party that supposedly cares so much about the legacy of slavery and how it has affected black people and still affects black people, a person might expect that they would be particularly acutely aware of how their own party was part of that legacy. Or at least, a person might expect they *should* be. I mean, Tom Steyer said that acknowledging the past would be necessary.

Corporate journalists who support the Democratic Party seem to agree. It seems to be a popular virtue sport these days, to write an article about something in America’s history that demonstrates its awful sin of slavery and point out how Americans must remember it if we are ever to atone. For example, The Washington Post published an article how we “choose to forget” things about American origins. The author was particularly concerned about how we remember the Mayflower, which brought the Pilgrims, but not the White Lion, which brought slaves. He quotes an American abolitionist in 1857:

“Here are two ideas, Liberty and Slavery — planted at about the same time, in the virgin soil of the new continent; the one in the North, the other in the South. They are deadly foes.”

And of course, there is the 1619 project, published by the New York Times, which was explicitly written with intent of affecting how America remembers things:

“[The 1619 project] is not about history. It's about memory; about what parts of the nation's past we should hold in our memories going forward & about how we tell the story of the nation to our children.”

Personally, I am all for remembering the complex relationship our country has had with slavery and liberty. I think we should be concerned about what aspects of our Republic’s past should be held in our memories and the memories of our children. I find the quote from the Washington Post article quite powerful, and I think it reflects starkly what the Civil War ultimately answered, whether slavery would be abolished from the Republic or whether it should continue. To my great gratitude, it was abolished. The idea of liberty prevailed over the idea of slavery. Albeit, perhaps it was simply one battle for liberty that was won. For after slavery was abolished, a new reign of terror rose up and sought to oppress the black people who were just liberated. Then after 100 years of terror, the civil rights movement eventually largely abolished that terror.

One would think that people so concerned about what we remember from our past and people so concerned about how the legacy of slavery affects black people today would acknowledge the *obvious* and indisputable fact that it was the Democratic Party that was the “the South” and the Republican party that was “the North”. The Party that fought for slavery was the Democratic Party and the Party that fought for liberty was the Republican Party. No Republicans were in the South; and the vast majority of Democrats in the North rooted for slavery. Indeed, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, who took over the presidency when Lincoln was assassinated, returned land that was given to freed black people by Sherman, intended as reparations, back to the slavers. Let that sink into your memory. Black people received enormous amounts of land from Sherman, a Republican. A Democrat, Johnson, returned the land to the Democrats of the South, those who fought for slavery, over the resistance of Radical Republicans.

For any commission studying reparations for slavery, one would imagine that such simple facts, like the organization that fought to keep it going, leading to 600000 American deaths, and the organization that seized reparations from black people that were initially given after the war, was the Democratic Party. But, given the commission will be largely directed by the Democratic Party, as the bill was written by the Democratic Party, and is being largely promoted by the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party is more concerned about “narrative” than history, I suspect that the Democratic Party will be “decentered” from the “narrative” of slavery — and the blame will be firmly placed on the innocent: “Americans.”

After all, we can see how much the Democratic Party cares about historical accuracy when presenting its history by simply looking at their “history” link on their official website:

“For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers’ rights, and women’s rights.”

The blatant *obvious* historical revisionism should be astonishing to anyone who actually cares about the “memories” Americans should have about the legacy of slavery. Just look at this enormous lie that the Democratic Party brazenly places for everyone to see. 200 years fighting for civil rights! 200 years fighting for civil rights! And their timeline begins at 1920 — almost 100 years after the actual beginning of their party. 200 years ago they were whipping slaves. Around 150 years ago they were fighting that war for slavery. Notice also how they make no mention of Black Laws, or Jim Crow, in their timeline. But they do mention the civil rights act of 1964 that Lyndon Johnson signed.

The Washington Post and the New York Times supposedly care deeply about America remembering the legacy of slavery — they just don’t care about America remembering the legacy of slavery *accurately*. The Washington Post and the New York Times are deeply concerned about how the Mayflower is remembered but not the White Lion, but don’t give two shits about how the Party that fought for slavery blatantly lies *today* on their official website about fighting for civil rights when they were fighting for slavery. The last time I checked, The Pilgrims aren’t around anymore; but the Democratic Party is one of the most powerful organizations in the world. And that power derives directly from having fought a war for slavery, stealing reparations from freed black people, and implementing “systemic racism”(Black Laws, Jim Crow) for 100 years. Perhaps it is no surprise though that The New York Times, an organization that is owned by a family whose ancestors *owned slaves* is writing historical revisionism to shift the memories of Americans to the periphery of the legacy of slavery from the center of the legacy of slavery, the Democratic Party.

And furiously loyal Democrats will fight to absolve the Democratic Party from the guilt of slavery. They will have no qualms about condemning Americans in general or white people in general, or the South, or even the Republican Party(!) for the legacy of slavery — but if someone suggests the Democratic Party holds premier culpability, expect a vigorous and passionate defense of it.

The two primary ways Democrats attempt to exculpate the guilt of the Democratic Party is by invoking two “narratives”: the Big Switch and the Southern Strategy. They are very related; typically the Southern Strategy is used as a way to bolster the legitimacy of the Big Switch.

Thus far, the source online that does the best job of defending those two narratives I have found is here — it both articulates it in its most nuanced form and also provides the most persuasive evidence I have found supporting them. A good source for the generic and naïve form of the narrative that is part of so much of the American consciousness can be found on — that beloved source that other than informing the public about the legacy of slavery, also “explores the controversial theory that extraterrestrials have visited Earth for millions of years.”

One of the biggest things that these two narratives leverage is the fact that there is some truth found in both of them. There has been a shift in the parties and the political demographic of the country from the 1950s to today; and the Republicans did have Southern strategy in the 60s. However, what makes these two narratives myths is “the idea that the G.O.P. of today more closely resembles the Democratic Party of yore (particularly on matters of race), and vice versa” — and that the reason the G.O.P. resembles the Democratic Party of yore is because of it’s Southern strategy to court the southern racists with appeals to their racist sentiments. Those two specific points — that the Republican Party resembles the Democratic Party of yore and the Republican Party grew in the south because it employed a Southern strategy designed to win over racists are both false.

And the conclusion that these two premises inevitably are meant to reach is that because the parties switched(or began switching if a Democrat is more nuanced and realizes the former is easy to disprove) in the 1960s the Republican Party inherits the sins of the Democratic Party prior to the 1960s and the Democratic Party inherits the virtues of the Republican Party prior to the 1960s. The intent is to shift any moral blame for slavery and Jim Crow onto the Republican Party — because the parties switched.

Let me start off by discussing the “Southern Strategy.” The origin of the the term comes from a variety of sources, including newspaper articles, but primarily from a discussion Lee Atwater had with Alexander Lamis. From that link you can read the entire transcript. Typically, what you will find is a reference to a particular segment of the discussion, as you can find on the Wikipedia page for Lee Atwater:

“Y'all don't quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger". By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this", is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger". So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the back-burner.”

Unquestionably, that sounds pretty wretched. Unfortunately, it is extracted completely out of context. A) the quote doesn’t even include the first two sentences of Lee Atwater’s comment in that part of the discussion. That quote begins with: “Here's how I would approach that issue as a statistician or a political scientist. Or as a psychologist, which I'm not, is how abstract you handle the race thing. Now once you start out…” . The quote on Wikipedia not only doesn’t include the first two sentences, but it also cuts into the middle of the sentence he is speaking. And this is a great example of why Wikipedia is often not a good source (at least a final source) for anything politically connected.

Atwater is responding to Lamis’ suggestion that Reagan was appealing to the racists because he won the Wallace voter. He explains to Lamis a theory, and how he would approach it as a psychologist. And he says “don’t quote me on this” because his explanation is going to include the word “nigger” — which we all know may destroy a person’s career if spoken now, but back then it was still unpopular. And his theory is that in order to win, the Southern strategy, any politician in the south in 1954 had to say “nigger nigger nigger” — then by 1968, doing that actually hurt a politician because of the changing perceptions of race. Then, to reach those voters, a politician might need to oppose stuff like forced bussing and support states rights and such. And now politicians promote cutting taxes and other economic things and subconsciously that may sway racist voters — but “I’m not saying that.” And he isn’t just talking about Republican politicians; he is talking about Democratic politicians as well. “The candidate who best handled the segregation issue between '54 and '66 basically was the winner. Importantly, the race question was the top, was the issue in all Southern races. This continued up to '70.”

He also discusses repeatedly the “blue collar voter.”

“Until 1980, and a little bit until 76, the race issue was how you approach that man. Plus, the most conservative guy on fiscal matters always tends to have their vote, and the toughest son of a bitch in national defense and foreign policy are always going to have their vote.”

In 76 Jimmy Carter won their vote, a Democrat. *Not* a Republican. Did Jimmy Carter use racism to win their vote? No? Then why make the assumption that Reagan did? If Carter can win without using the race issue then Reagan can as well. And that is what he says. He ended up losing to Reagan in 80. And he didn’t just lose the South. He lost the whole country.

And in that Wikipedia quote Atwater is speculating because Lamis asked him to speculate about the racist voters of Wallace and how Reagan possibly won them. But there is no indication from what he says that the reason Reagan is running on those things is *because Reagan is racist*. There is often a general assumption by Progressives that Conservatives economic policy is racist because inevitably some things economic conservatism promotes is cutting taxes, and social welfare programs require taxes, and black people disproportionately use social welfare programs.

However, racism needn’t be the reason why people support conservative economic policies, as those same people may also donate to social programs that help black people or they may simply not want to use their money to support stuff they haven’t voluntarily decided to support; or they may just think that conservative economic policy will actually improve the lives of black people in the long run; or they feel that it is immoral on principle to tax people heavily for anything that is not essential for the functioning of the government. That does not mean the people must have antipathy toward black people. Lamis assumes that Reagan must be racist or specifically targeting racists because he ran on lowering taxes. Which is nonsense.

“Conservative” positions in general are often portrayed by Progressives and other opponents as being essentially racist, but those positions can be held by people who are strongly supportive of the uplift of black people and have even dedicated their lives to it, such as civil rights activist and founder of the 1776 Unites project, Bob Woodson. Woodson even developed an opposition to forced bussing because he thought it was harmful at times to the education of black students. Atwater points out that its possible that some voters subconsciously might find certain “Conservative” positions appealing due to their racism, “ but I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract and that coded, that we're doing away with the racial problem one way or the other.”

Indeed, early in his discussion he explicitly says:

“the Reagans did not have to do a Southern strategy for two reasons.

Number one, race was not a dominant issue.

And number two, the mainstream issues in this campaign had been “Southern issues” since way back in the 60s. So Reagan goes out and campaigns on the economics and on national defense, the whole campaign was devoid of any kind of racism, any kind of reference.”

Republicans unquestionably ran immoral campaigns that attempted to appeal to racist voters in the 60s and 70s. But that is not necessarily why they won the campaigns they did win. In fact, Richard Nixon lost the deep south to Wallace in 1968. And that is because he *didn’t* focus on trying to win those states. This is confirmed both by Nixon himself, and by Kevin Phillips in his book “The Emerging Republican Majority”, who wrote of Republican Southern strategy but actually was not a significant contributor to the Nixon campaign. Furthermore, the fact that some Republicans appealed to racist southerners doesn’t mean that *Democrats* did not do the same thing.

One element of the Southern Strategy myth is due to omission: the Democrats were *more* successful in the south than the Republicans in the 60s and 70s, the height of the Republicans trying to appeal to southern voters leveraging racist sentiments. 83 Southern Democrats voted no on the Civil Rights act of 1964, of those 2 switched to the Republican Party. Those 83 Southern Democrats were inevitably appealing to the racists of the south. How many southern Republicans voted no? 11. Because that is all there were. The South was primarily Democratic, and the Democratic Party appealed to the racist sentiments of the South since they fought a war for slavery and they continued to do so in the 1960s and the 1970s. They even did so in the 80s, which can be demonstrated by the fact that Joe Biden appealed to the racists of the south when in 1987 bragged about getting an award from George Wallace, arch segregationist, and said that his state was on “the South’s side in the Civil War.” Yes, that Joe Biden, our current president. In 1976 Biden supported a measure sponsored by Senator Robert Byrd, the ex KKK member who filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to restrict bussing.

The arch segregationist George Wallace continued as a Democratic governor of Alabama until 1979. In his campaign for Governor in 1970, as a Democrat he ran an explicitly racist campaign — no “dog whistles”. The following image is an ad he ran; that is 7 black boys around a white girl.

Some Democrats take the fact that the RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman apologized in 2005 for the behavior of the Republican Party in the last few decades of the 20th century as being some sort of evidence that the “Southern strategy” ushered in a a Big Switch:

“By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out," Mehlman says in his prepared text. "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”

It is certainly good evidence that “some Republicans” either didn’t bother trying to appease black voters or straight up leveraged racist sentiments, but that certainly isn’t evidence that the parties switched. It just means that the Republican Party has demonstrated some level of self-awareness and willingness to acknowledge its history. The Democratic Party, though, I don’t recall them apologizing for their behavior from the war for slavery, black laws, Jim Crow, and then post-60s campaigns like Wallace’s that they ran. The notion that the two parties switched because the Republican Party engaged in some bad behavior in the 60s is absolutely ridiculous given that a) the Democratic Party fought a war for slavery and instituted Jim Crow b) the Republican Party never did such thing after the 1960s c) the Democratic Party did not cease leveraging racist sentiments after 1964.

It took 30 years after the 1964 civil rights act for the Republican Party to gain a majority of congressional seats in the South. Its unquestionable that there was a transition in the political composition of the southern states. But the data shows that Republican Party dominance followed from primarily that the south became increasingly less racist and more economically conservative, and the Democratic Party became more economically progressive. Race probably paid a part, particularly the fact that many southerners were racist and economic conservatism, even though it is not racist, can still be appealing to a racist who does not want the economic policies of progressives to prevail for the racial groups they hate. Progressive economic policies themselves are often in fact racist, insofar as they directly attempt to benefit a racial group at the expense of others. Hence, for example, Biden has implemented programs for minority farmers that help them economically, but exclude white farmers. That is racist; and certainly, white racists, and just white people who do not want to be discriminated against, will oppose such policy. So, we can have a situation where racists can support a platform or politicians who are not racist.

Now, it should be clear that the two parties did not have any dramatic switch, and the transition that did occur was not simply because of a strategy to win southern votes by appealing to the racist sentiments of voters. The Democratic Party has been doing that since its inception 200 years ago, and it continued to do that after 1964. The Republican Party was particularly bad about it in the 60s and 70s, but still no worse than the Democratic Party. The only party that “switched” was the Democratic Party after 1964 when it quickly realized that their segregationist brand would no longer win a country that had begun to embrace the racial vision of Martin Luther King Jr — even the South. The Republican domination of the south is in some sense a testament to the effectiveness of the civil rights movement. The once solid Democratic south, fanatically loyal to the Democratic Party, slowly lost its loyalty, and likewise, migrations from the North occurred, and this all led to the opportunity for the Republican Party to make gradual but substantial gains by primarily appealing to issues other than race. In the 1980s, Reagan won the whole country, not just the racists and the racists were beginning to be less and less significant to a victory in the south.

What now divides the two parties more than anything else is their economic philosophies — “conservativism” and “progressivism” — albeit in practice the differences can often be less pronounced, in their expressed ideology it is quite dramatic. When the civil war was fought between liberty and slavery, their perspective on race was what most separated them. The Republican Party believed that slavery should be ended, while the Democratic Party believed it should have continued. After the civil war, the Republican Party believed that black people should have had their civil rights protected, while the Democratic Party oppressed them. After 1964, the only difference is that the Democratic Party no longer sought to oppress black people in the way they did before and they no longer sought to extend slavery. The Republican Party did not pick up a pro-slavery, Jim Crow platform. That is what would have constituted an actual switch.

Perhaps the reason many Democrats are so capable of believing that the parties switched is because they have yet to actually fully “acknowledge the past” and the party’s legacy of slavery, racial terrorism, and race baiting. Instead they are convinced that Republicans’ race baiting in the 60s is somehow magically equivalent to fighting a war for slavery and then nursing a racist terrorist organization. Or maybe they are ignorant. At one point in my life I simply was not particularly conscious of the history of the Democratic Party. And much of what I had been exposed to, even in school, aided the propaganda that is represented most clearly on their official timeline. Historical accounts sometimes simply omit mentions of the Democratic Party, even when they are talking about the Confederacy. And I had somehow even absorbed the belief about the “Big Switch” from my upbringing, even though I do not recall where it came from. The Democratic Party is extremely powerful and supported both in corporate media and educational institutions. Their propaganda is mind bogglingly powerful. Truly, it is so powerful they can say they were fighting for civil rights for 200 years and no large media organization even points out the *obvious* lie.

And now the Democratic Party is seeking to investigate reparations for the legacy of slavery. The Democratic Party website excludes mention of it, their presidential candidates say that acknowledging the past is necessary, and ex-presidents say that the legacy of slavery is part of our DNA. Nay. It is part of the Democratic Party’s DNA. If the Democratic Party desires reparations for slavery, they should begin by acknowledging the central role they played, fighting a war to keep it going, taking reparations that were given to freed black people after the war, and then the continued oppression of black people for a hundred years. And then they should redeem themselves, and pay the reparations themselves, rather than having innocent Americans pay for the crimes they are guilty of. The Democratic Party draws its power and its wealth from a brutal war for slavery and 100 years of racial terror. They must acknowledge their past. Immigrants from India have nothing to do with their crimes and should have nothing to do with the reparations for them. The Democratic Party now uses the legacy of slavery to try and manipulate people into feeling that their economic policies are necessary to redress the past — centrally the Democratic Party’s past. They wish voters to think that by giving them more and more government power they can fix social problems that are rooted in their legacy, yet they do not even acknowledge that legacy. Remember, behind their banner of Obama, their row of black people, their embrace of Black Lives Matter—literally political black face—is the Party of Slavery, a legacy of White Supremacy that they now deny officially on their public website.

Most Democrats will scoff at the suggestion that the Party owes reparations even if they don’t completely dismiss the Party’s responsibility or they recognize the parties didn’t switch in any meaningful way. They might make the argument that the Democratic Party is simply not the same as it was 150 years ago. Which is true, it isn’t. But that is irrelevant to what its debt is. The Democratic Party is an organization with a lineage of wealth and power, like a Church, or a corporation. If the Democratic Party can find guilt in “America”, even though America was eventually divided into primarily two factions, one of which ended up defeating the Democratic Party in a civil war — and the Democratic Party can imagine that the legacy of slavery for “America” ought to be acknowledged or redeemed in some way, certainly the Democratic Party can be guilty as well. If Shell Oil enslaved a race of people 150 years ago and 50 years ago decided to embrace civil rights, Shell Oil would still be culpable for its actions 150 years ago. Its redemption would depend on restitution for its crimes. The owners and leaders of Shell post civil rights are still benefiting from the crimes that Shell committed 150 years before.

Now loyal Democrats must acknowledge the Democratic Party’s past, and reconcile that with the way the Democratic Party is currently presenting itself as the “party of civil rights.” The Democratic Party will be the Party of Slavery until it redeems itself. And the only way for that to happen is if Democrats “speak truth to power” and bring to light the darkness of the Democratic Party’s past. They must “do the work” and bring about change in their party and bring about providing the reparations that their party stole 150 years ago. Otherwise Democrats are complicit in that past, selling their souls for the hope of their political goals, accepting the manipulation of history; turning truth into “narrative.”

The Democratic Party now perversely embraces the Cult of the Awoken - a cult of post-modern racism that faithfully projects the darkness of the Democratic Party’s past onto innocent people. The Democratic Party may have abandoned its platform of slavery and Jim Crow, but it now has another racist platform: “equity”, which requires the use of racist policy to eliminate any statistical disparities of various racial groups, resting on the ignorant assumption that disparities are always evidence of discrimination. Their solution though is ironically racial discrimination: or as the Orwellian phrases go — anti-racist discrimination. It now leverages black racism, white guilt, and white racist paternalism, to advocate for racist policies and policies that increase the power of the government to seize wealth — inevitably their hope being more and more power to the Party of Slavery to control our lives and labor. It is essential that more Democrats wake up to their corruption and lies. The most obvious lie, the lie that is the foundation for all their other lies, we see plainly on their website.

“Democracy dies in darkness” — that is now the slogan of the Washington Post, one of the most pro Democratic Party media organizations. Strange, their concern for Democracy, when they are apologists for the Party of Slavery — for the Party that fought a war to keep democracy and freedom from black people — for a Party that argued in court that they have no legal obligation to run a fair, democratic, election; for a Party that cloaks its own past in darkness. Darkness is what so many Democrats are in; the lies are so obvious, and so blatant, it is bewildering how when they see them, they do not seek to bring them to light. Our Republic may die if we do not bring light to the darkness of the Democratic Party’s concealed past. Either the Democratic Party must redeem itself, or it should perish, as it ought to have after the civil war.