With the walloping Republicans gave Democrats in the midterm elections, the GOP stands one Louisiana Senate runoff away from completely controlling Southern politics from the Carolinas to Texas. Only a handful of Democrats hold statewide office in the rest of the Old Confederacy.
It looks like with this latest election the south has finally turned almost 100% Republican. How did that happen? That is the topic of this post. Of course I am giving you my personal knowledge on this topic. The South did turn from almost exclusively Democrat to Republican in my lifetime so I do have some, be it ever so small, personal expertise in the matter.
The Republican party should point proudly to its roots and that is Abraham Lincoln. He was our president during perhaps the most difficult time in American history, when we were killing each other by the millions over whether some people were property to be owned or citizens to be protected.
Another great Republican president forty years after Lincoln was Teddy Roosevelt. Although he was born into the American aristocracy he had a deep empathy for those less fortunate than he was. This empathy lead him to see how badly the common guy was faring during the Industrial Revolution and to do something about it. He took on the “robber barons” of his time and gave at least some power back to ordinary citizens away from the super-rich.
The Republican party has a proud heritage in at least these two great presidents. Between 1861 and 1909 there were ten Republican presidents to two Democratic presidents. They dominated American politics for almost fifty years after the Civil War. What happened to almost reverse the party of Lincoln and Roosevelt into what it is today? To answer that turnaround we need to look at the 1960s.
Up until the 1960s the Democratic party was the party of the South. They dominated because they weren’t Republicans who took away their slaves and therefore much of their economic prosperity. Then came along President Kennedy and the “Second Emancipation Proclamation” Here is a little about that from Wikipedia:
The Second Emancipation Proclamation is the term applied to an envisioned Executive Order that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–68) enjoined President John F. Kennedy to issue. As the Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive Order issued by President Abraham Lincoln to free all slaves being held in states at war with the Union, the envisioned “Second Emancipation Proclamation” was to use the powers of the Executive office to strike a severe blow to segregation.
Southern Democrats became outraged that a Democratic president would issue such an executive decision. And then came President Johnson with the Civil Rights agenda. Within a decade southerners left the Democratic party in mass. During the years between 1933 and 1969 Republicans controlled the White House only eight years. When the southern white politicians moved to the Republican party it was ripe for change and change it they did. During the years since that time the GOP sadly morphed from the party Lincoln and Roosevelt to something completely different.