Many, perhaps even most, ordinary Democrats and Republicans have no idea of the relative histories of their parties. They know only what has been fed to them by a media intent on showing Democrats in only the best light, and by a school system even more biased.
Democrats believe that their party has always been the "party of civil rights"; that theirs was the side that fought against slavery, and for equal rights, citizenship, and the right of blacks to vote, even women's suffrage. In fact, they have been on the wrong side of every single one of these civil rights issues, and more--much more.
The fact that ordinary Democrats believe that their party is the party of civil rights, though incorrect, is grounds for a significant amount of forgiveness. Their hearts are in the right place (on this issue) and they are, after all, being duped by a gigantic system designed to do just that. I myself was once among their number.
The Republican Policy Committee of the United States House of Representatives, to celebrate 150 years since the founding of the Republican Party, have put together a calendar that tracks their achievements in advancing individual freedom.
Al Franken, feeling the need to respond to the calender, yet unable to refute any of the items in the calender by factual means, resorts to childish means: he makes fun of the fact some of the dates of the achievements listed on the calender are old. Why this seems relevant to Franken, in view of the fact that the calender celebrates 150 years of achievements, is not immediately apparent. Franken's intellectual powers seldom seem more limited than they do in this opinion piece. He, unlike the rank and file of his party, is part of the misinformation machine.
Now, it is true that Republicans have been involved in civil rights issues for a century and a half. For the first 100 or so years, they were the party that was "for" civil rights.
Then they switched sides with the Democrats, and for half a century they've been more involved on the "against" side.
The first paragraph is right, the second is what he wants you to believe; there was no switching of sides--the Democrats merely switched their rhetoric. Much like Hillary Clinton is doing today by cynically espousing conservative values in a transparent effort to convince voters that she is not a liberal, but a moderate.
While neither party has been even close to perfect in their support for civil rights, the Republican's record is immeasurably better than the Democrat's--long ago and today. In addition to the calendar, Republicans also offer the following history of their party. Because their side is seldom told, it should be read regardless of which party you think you belong to. It begins... at the beginning:
To stop the Democrats’ pro-slavery agenda, anti-slavery activists founded the Republican Party, starting with a few dozen men and women in Ripon, Wisconsin on March 20, 1854. The party spread across the northern and western United States like a prairie fire of freedom. The first Republican state convention was held in Jackson, Michigan in July 1854. The Republican National Committee met for the first time in 1856, followed four months later by the first Republican National Convention.
In the election of 1860, Republicans swept to victory in the White House and won majorities in both houses of Congress. Just six years after the party’s founding, the Governor of every northern state in America was a Republican. That phenomenal progress was possible only because the Republican Party was based on the powerful idea that our nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality, must live up to its founding principles.
Despite fierce Democrat opposition, Republicans passed constitutional amendments banning slavery, extending the Bill of Rights to the states, guaranteeing equal protection of the laws and due process to all citizens, and extending the right to vote to persons of all races and backgrounds.
Republicans in Congress also enacted the nation’s first-ever Civil Rights Act, which extended citizenship and equal rights to people of all races, all colors, and all creeds.In 1875, the Republicans expanded these protections to give all citizens the right of equal access to all public accommodations. Struck down by the Supreme Court eight years later, this landmark legislation would be reborn as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Republicans led the fight for women’s rights, and most suffragists were Republicans. In fact, Susan B. Anthony bragged about how, after voting (illegally) in 1872, she had voted a straight Republican ticket. The suffragists included two African-American women who were also co-founders of the NAACP: Ida Wells and Mary Terrell, great Republicans, both of them.
Republican Senator Aaron Sargent wrote the women’s suffrage amendment in 1878,though it would not be passed by Congress until Republicans again won control of both houses 40 years later. It was in 1916 that the first woman was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Jeannette Rankin. The first woman mayor was elected in 1926, the Honorable Bertha Landes of Seattle, another great Republican.
Democratic opposition to Republican efforts to protect the civil rights of all Americans lasted not only throughout Reconstruction, but well into the 20th century. In the South, those Democrats who most bitterly opposed equality for blacks founded the Ku Klux Klan, which operated as the party’s terrorist wing.
Every single African-American in Congress until 1935 was a Republican. Among the Republican pioneers were South Carolina’s Joseph Rainey, the first black member of the House of Representatives, in 1870. Republican Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first black U. S. Senator the same year. Two years later, Pinckney Pinchback of Louisiana became the nation’s first blac Governor.
Californi was the first state to have a Hispanic governor, Republican Romualdo Pacheco, in 1875. The first Hispanic U. S. Senator, Octaviano Larrazolo, came to Washington from New Mexico as a Republican in 1928. The first Jewish U.S. Senator outside the former Confederacy was a Republican from Oregon, Joseph Simon, and the first Jewish woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives was a California Republican, Florence Kahn.
In 2004, America marked the 50th anniversary of the modern civil rights movement, which began with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. That landmark decision was written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the three-term Republican Governor of California appointed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. The author of Brown was also the 1948 Republican vice presidential nominee.
Three years after Brown, President Eisenhower won passage of his landmark Civil Rights Act of 1957. Republican Senator Everett Dirksen authored and introduced the 1960 Civil Rights Act, and saw it through to passage. Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act overwhelmingly, and by much higher percentages in both House and Senate than the Democrats. Indeed, the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law only after overcoming a Democrat filibuster.
The first Asian-American U.S. Senator was a Republican, Hiram Fong from Hawaii. The first African-American Senator after Reconstruction was a Republican, Ed Brooke from Massachusetts. The first Asian-American federal judge was a Republican, Herbert Choy. The first woman on the Supreme Court was a Republican, Sandra Day O’Connor. The first Hispanic presidential Cabinet member was a Republican, Lauro Cavazos, Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan.
The longest- serving African-American in a leadership position of the U.S. House of Representatives was a Republican, J.C. Watts. The first women elected to the majority Leadership in both the House and the Senate were Republicans, Jennifer Dunn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. The highest-ranking women ever in the majority Leadership in Congress, both currently serving, are Republicans: Kay Bailey Hutchison and Deborah Pryce.
Today, the Republican Party continues its historical commitment to civil rights at home and around the world.
Update: Powerline has two (1, 2) posts on Franken's nonsense article. The first one has an addendum about Hinderaker being interviewed by Franken. I heard tape, on the Northen Alliance Radio Network show, of the interview. Hinderaker is right, it was the worst interview I've ever heard on "professional" radio.