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Response to op-ed on race and political parties

February 10, 2019

On Friday appeared a third installment of Todd Peterson’s discussion of the historical role of our two major political parties regarding race. (“Watch for exodus from the Left,” The News-Times, Feb. 8) Of course before the Civil War the Democratic Party became the party of slavery. The Republican Party emerged in the North. It became the party of Lincoln, of emancipation, of citizenship for the former slaves, of suffrage for men regardless of race. The Democratic Party became the party of the segregationist Solid South. African-Americans voted Republican.

A shift began when some New Deal programs became available to black people. In 1936, the black vote went for FDR. Todd Peterson chooses to emphasize LBJ’s cynicism and political motivation in championing civil rights in the Sixties. Actually, LBJ put the Solid Democratic South at risk when he identified himself and the Democratic party with civil rights by invoking the anthem of the civil rights movement in proclaiming, “We Shall Overcome.”

The crisis of the contemporary Republican Party came when despite the necessary support of Everett Dirksen and other Republican Senators to overcome a filibuster against civil rights legislation, the Democratic Party for a time held both the African-American vote and the segregationist southern vote.

Then, Nixon adopted the southern strategy going soft on civil rights/voting rights enforcement. Reagen and two Bushes followed that strategy, and the Republican Party became as it is today — the party of white supremacy.

There is a potential for dividing the African-American vote from the Hispanic vote, which Trump hopes to exploit in 2020. Peterson touches on this “golden” opportunity. Ironically, it is the Democratic Party which is offering both Hispanic and African-American candidates for President, not to mention opportunities for women.

It is hard to see how a political party can be effective today without being inclusive and unifying.

Daniel C. Hudson

Ridgefield

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