And While We’re On The Topic Of Outrageous Lies, Who At The DNC Dreamed Up THIS One?

The Trail of Tears, just one of those pace-setting civil rights initiatives by President Andrew Jackson, father of the modern Democratic Party.

With my head swathed in ice and restraints, trying to stem the explosion (I have vacated the house of all other living things), I note this, which I happily was unaware of until a few hours ago, from a history of the Democratic Party, on a new Democratic National Committee web site .

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

Health care? Okay.  Social Security? Obviously. Workers’ rights? A closer call, but sure. Women’s rights? Sold, though literally none of these can be traced back to 1812. Nobody was thinking about health care until the 20th Century. Worker’s rights became an issue in the late 19th. Social Security wasn’t a twinkle in any Democrat’s eye until the 1930’s, and the Democratic Party wasn’t very concerned about women’s rights until the 20th century either.

But can the Democrats claim 200 years’ support of civil rights? Absolutely not. To claim this is beyond mere lying, and reaches Orwellian proportions as an effort to re-write history. It is also blatant misinformation, clearly designed for the uneducated, the historically ignorant, the gullible or the stupid—you know, most people—or it was written and approved by members of this group who built the DNC site. Let’s be unequivocal: The Democratic Party did NOT lead the fight for civil rights for “more than 200 years.” No historian believes this or has written this. It is a complete, nonsensical, made-up, silly piece of dishonest puffery:

  • The modern Democratic party didn’t exist 200 years ago. It came into existence with the election of Andrew Jackson, who defeated the candidate of Thomas Jefferson’s soon to be absorbed party, President John Quincy Adams, in 1832.
  • Jackson’s civil rights record included the brutal persecution of Native Americans, while the most prominent Democrat in the Senate, John C. Calhoun, was fighting tooth and nail to defend slavery against growing opposition. Andy was the undisputed leader of the Democrats, and to call him, of all people, a civil rights advocate is a bad and tasteless joke.
  • The party that built itself on civil rights issues was the Republican Party, begun by abolitionists, and opposed by most Democrats. Abraham Lincoln, was, after all, a Republican.
  • It was the Democratic Party in the South that built and maintained the Jim Crow laws. The so-called “stolen election” of 1876 resolved itself when the Democrats agreed to let the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes become President in exchange for troops being removed from the South, giving the green light for the discrimination against blacks at the ballot box and elsewhere to be institutionalized throughout the former Confederacy.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, was the first President to invite a black man, Booker T. Washington, to the White House. His cautious initiatives toward civil rights were sharply reversed by Democratic icon Woodrow Wilson, who was an open, enthusiastic supporter of the Klu Klux Klan, and a virulent racist.
  • Under President Franklin Roosevelt’s leadership, Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II in so-called “internment centers” in grotesque violation of their civil rights.
  • Racial segregation was built and supported by Southern Democratic governors and legislators until President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act in 1964, which was passed with overwhelming support from Republicans.

Gradually, after that, the roles of the parties reversed, to the undying shame of the Republican Party. It would be fair and accurate to credit Democrats with leading the way on civil rights for half a century, and that’s an impressive record itself. The 200 year claim, however, is inexcusable, politically, educationally, historically, and ethically.*

* Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler is getting accolades for criticizing the DNC about this. His critique is far too mild.


Pointer: Chris Plante

Graphic: The Persian Horse

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

34 thoughts on “And While We’re On The Topic Of Outrageous Lies, Who At The DNC Dreamed Up THIS One?

  1. Yea, in the 1900s, the Democratic party has been at the forefront of the fight for all those rights. In the 1800s…not so much.

    I’d say the 1800s Democratic Party has almost nothing to do with the current iteration…but the DNC is claiming the full length of the party with that name. Bad DNC.

  2. “It is also blatant misinformation, clearly designed for the uneducated, the historically ignorant, the gullible or the stupid….”
    Oh, if only the world was such that we could all look at that “200 years” and say, “it’s so utterly ridiculous it has to be a typo!” Sadly, our world is not that one, and, as a result, I am compelled to agree with you.
    Could you post the baby polar bear again, please?

  3. I think you need to say the latter part of the 1900’s. It wasn’t really until LBJ (as mentioned above) that the party started to care at all and then only half-heatedly. If we look at the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the most fervent opposition came from Strom Thurmond (D, SC) and Robert Byrd (D, WV). Sen. Byrd fillibustered for over 14 hours to block the bill. In the end, 61% of the Democrats in the House and 66% in the Senate voted for the bill. However, 80% of the Republicans in the House and 82% in the Senate voted for the bill. A DEMOCRATIC Bill! I hardly think this shows the Democratic Party at the forefront of the fight for civil rights even in the mid 60’s.

    • I’d add that LBJs support was not exactly out of support for civil rights as much as it was politically motivated.

      Interestingly enough, the party breakdown of the 64 vote is largely meaningless as the fault line of the vote was North vs. South.

      • It isn’t meaningless unless you take a Northern elitist view that the South doesn’t count. Those votes were votes valid votes cast in Congress by democrats, and powerful, important democrats at that. Sen. Byrd, for instance was an important political figure in the Democratic party (as head of the appropriations committee) until the 90’s, I believe. You can’t just say that only ‘Northern’ democrats count when you talk about the democrats or you don’t get to count Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter either.

        • I don’t think brian claimed the only Northern democrats count. What he claimed was that that vote had little to nothing to do with party affiliation.

        • Sorry if there was confusion. If you look at the vote counts by party it was pretty much 60-40 Democrats for/against, and 80-20 Republican’s for/against. If you look by region the votes were pretty much 0-100 South for/against and 90-10 North for/against. Basically the difference between the Democrats and Republican for/against totals is driven by the geographical makeup of the parties at the time.

          The point I was making is that voting for the 1964 civil rights bill split harder on geography then it did on party, although it did split on party. I was not implying this holds true today, by the way.

      • Brian, I don’t know what “politically motivated” means here. LBJ was President, and he didn’t suck up to anyone. His support of civil rights was deep and genuine. The Civil Rights Act involved political risk, not expediency. LBJ deserves full credit.

        • I did not believe LBGs support of civil rights was deep and genuine. I did some quick reading and it sounds like some of his earlier votes against civil rights may have been done to appease more then out of hostility for civil rights.

          • See, and then there are comment’s like these from LBJ:

            “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” and “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

            Those were the two quotes I have heard before which made me question his motives in pushing for the 64 civil rights bill. I think other things he has done indicate he was supportive and these statements may have been an effort to appease southern democrats, and do not reflect his personal feelings.

            • You’re confusing bigotry with civil rights. Recognizing that individuals have equal rights regardless of who they are is civil rights. Bias is something entirely different. Yes, bigots often oppose civil rights but the two are not inexorably linked. There is no law that says any American has to use respectful terms or attitudes when speaking or thinking.

          • Does it matter if it was deep and genuine as long as he got it done? God knows Kennedy couldn’t have gotten it passed.

            Given the history his family had fighting the Klan I beleive it was deep and genuine.

            • In this case I am not sure how much it matters, but legislation often does run into the baptist and bootlegger issue where I think it does matter why people support the legislation they support.

    • You are correct sir. In the early 1900s, Democrats started moving in the right way, but it wasn’t by any means large scale until the middle of the 20th century. Even then, the Southern Democrats were pretty much fully opposed. I find it amazing that the Democratic Party didn’t complete split at that time.

  4. I agree with everything you’ve got here, except the insinuation that the parties gradually switched since 1964. I’ve not seen evidence of such a switch, beyond the fact that the south started voting R. If you hold that the south was motivated by racism, then it makes sense that the most racist parts of the deep south would have been the first to switch to a newly ‘racist’ Republican party. However – that’s not what happened. The outlying, least racist areas were FIRST to embrace the shift to the Republican party, and the deep south resisted the longest.

    Also worth noting that it was the Democratic party that was undergoing a radical shift at the time, once it had lost the platform of racism – and what did they shift to? The far more modern Democratic party of acid, amnesty, and abortion. Plus the dedication to big government – all of which were anathema to the fundamentalist, statist south. So, the Republican party did say “we’re willing to work with racists” which was of great utilitarian value if not ethically desirable, but at the same time, the Democratic party had just suffered a massive setback, and was regrouping around policies that, racism or no, the Jacksonian Democrats would have struggled to embrace.

    Is all this true? I don’t know – but it fits what happened far better than the narrative of ‘the Democrats were so outraged by the victory of civil rights that they all quit the Democratic party and instantly joined the hated Republicans, who had been pushing for a civil right victory, changing the 200 year old stance of the entire party overnight.” That’s like saying the tea party is so upset about Obamacare that we’re going to all start voting Democrat so that we can change the D stance to allow us to overturn it. It’s nonsensical.

    • […]the hated Republicans, who had been pushing for a civil right victory[…]

      Do you like your bizarro world? When you start from invalid premises, you come up with invalid results.

        • At that time, neither party was pushing for civil rights over the other party. As noted above, This issue was split north/south, not Democrat/Republican.

          The “blame” from the Southern Democrats went was the Democratic party as they were the people in power.

          • With out the Republican vote the Civil Rights Act would have failed and the Republicans were the minority at the time. Yes it may have been split North South but the power in the South was the Democratic Party so you cant just wash your hands and say ” they were the people in power.” to excuse the racist history of the Demoicratic Party.

            • Um, what now?

              Aside from the bad logic (the Southern Democrats were a minority of the party, and the southern Republicans were equally racist), where was I excusing any racist history? I was calling out Aaron for stating that Republican party at the time was a party pushing civil rights (and the Democrats weren’t).

              • You have to break it down to southern and northern parts of the party to make your argument work. The argument is about the parties not the regions. The Democratc Party was the party of racism and the Klan not the Republican Party and the Republican Party had suported the the major civil rights bills of the previous 50 years when the demoicrats had opposed them.

                • I missed this somehow. But it’s patently stupid. The whole point is that the regions is what mattered, not the parties. The southern republicans that lost to the southern democrats didn’t support civil rights. If more of the sourtherners had voted for republicans than democrats, things would have worked the same way. You can’t exalt the republican party just because their members that disagreed had lost to democrats that disagreed.

              • The only people pushing for Civil Rights were liberals. Conservatives always opposed it, whether they were conservative Democrats or Republicans. Didn’t matter.

  5. There are so many reasons and history to explain why the party platforms are the way they are. Most of the presidents I hold in high esteem were Republican.The parties seem to constantly shift right to center to more left etc. Even in my locale it is sometimes difficult to tell what party they represent. Most times I have to do quite a bit of research to figure the convictions of each candidate. Plus are they strong enough to stick to their guns when the party is trying to rally them? Are they flip-floppers? Are they looking for a way to bounce into a nice lobbying position when they leave or don’t get reelected? In other words how much can I trust them to do the right thing for me? Usually not much. Maybe I should just resort to a coin toss. Anyway I am confused about that statement as well. Some truth to it, but very little.

  6. It seems to me that both parties would like to forget much of the past from about 1950.

    The Democrats because they were reactionaries back then, the Republicans because they weren’t.

    That’s a great oversimplification, but contains far more than a grain of truth.

    Regardless of the sins of the GOP, we have to call the DNC out on this one for a particularly egregious whopper. Tu quoque is never a valid excuse.

    While we’re at it, I thought the GOP national convention, where the result of a voice vote was pre-scripted on a teleprompter well before the event was a new low in political mendacity. I think the DNC may have caught up with the obvious and blatant lie about the 2/3 majority voice vote in theirs.

    Foreigners like myself looking at this sake our heads, and wonder just how deep the rot goes. If this is “business as usual”, just “the way things are in politics”, then it’s pretty darned deep.

  7. I don’t think that the Republican Party “to their shame” reversed on civil rights. The Democratic Party offered more than what the Republicans were willing, on principle, to give anyone (affirmative action, more-than-rudimentary welfare, hate-crime laws, etc.)
    Some of the outright racists switched over to the Republicans because the Democrats were now actively courting minorities, sure.
    But I think it’s a misconception that “the roles of the parties switched.”

    More like, the Republicans weren’t willing to become the “minority-friendly party” if it meant following the Democrats all the way into “outright buying them with goodies every four years in ways that are often proven to harm the long-term well-being of minority communities.”

    In turn, the Democrats were now able to say to minorities, “look past the whole slavery/Jim Crow thing…who’s offering you more straight cash now? Not the Republicans right? So….they hate you.”
    In some ways that became a self-fulfilling prophesy even.

    As the great Al Sharpton actually said at a Democratic Convention once, “We stayed with the Republicans all the way to Herbert Hoover, and then we decided to ride this donkey as far as it would take us.” (still not really accurate, but whatevs.)

    • The GOP, I think it is fair to say, reverted to coded “states rights” tactics in the South, and sometimes elsewhere. I’m not referring to the party’s opposition to affirmative action, which i think is wholly defensible. But the Republicans didn’t become almost unanimously unpopular with blacks by accident. And its hard to argue that the parties didn’t switch places, with Democrats taking the lead on civil rights.

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