FOXX’S NOTION OF ‘REVISIONIST HISTORY’…. On the House floor today, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a right-wing Republican from North Carolina, boasted of her party’s alleged progressive history on civil rights.
“Just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the ’60s without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle,” said Fox. “They love to engage in revisionist history.”
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), stunned, tried to set Foxx straight, pointing to the role of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations of the 1960s. “John Lewis, a member of this House, was beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge to get that civil rights legislation passed,” Cardoza reminded Foxx. “Tell John Lewis that he wasn’t part of getting that legislation passed.”
Matt Corley added, “To support the claim that Republicans were actually the architects of civil rights, conservatives often point out that a ‘higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the civil-rights bill.’ But this ignores the ‘distinct split between Northern and Southern politicians’ on the issue.”
This comes up from time to time, and since some confused people like Virginia Foxx have trouble remembering the details, it’s worth the occasional refresher.
The Democratic Party, in the first half of the 20th century, was home to competing constituencies — southern whites with abhorrent views on race, and white progressives and African Americans in the north, who sought to advance the cause of civil rights. The party struggled, ultimately siding with an inclusive, liberal agenda.
As the party shifted, the Democratic mainstream embraced its new role. Republicans, meanwhile, also changed. In the wake of LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act, the Republican Party welcomed the racists who no longer felt comfortable in the Democratic Party. Indeed, in 1964, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater boasted of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, and made it part of his platform. It was right around this time when figures like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond made the transition — leaving the Democratic Party for the GOP.
In the ensuing years, Democrats embraced its role as the party of diversity, inclusion, and civil rights. Republicans became the party of the “Southern Strategy,” opposition to affirmative action, campaigns based on race-baiting, vote-caging, discriminatory voter-ID laws, and politicians like Helms, Thurmond, Pat Buchanan, and Virginia Foxx.