In domestic American political talk, it is a token of faith that the GOP is hostile to non-whites and against Civil Rights in general. There are many reasons for this talk, but I won't go into them at length. Most of them focus on the 'Southern Strategy' and I want to get a little bit closer to that logic.
I can't recall when I first heard about Glenn Loury, but it was probably back in the early 80s when he was cited as one of the first black neocons. I didn't pay much attention to, nor was I familiar with his work, but I did know that he was a member of the Heritage Foundation. He famously quit that organization upon the publication of Dinesh DSouza's 'The End of Racism' a book with with Loury has serious questions along with many other Americans. In particular it was DSousa's failure to examine the history of the Republicans' race baiting tactics in the South that angered Loury. The details of this controversy are somewhere.
In my own anti-racist activism it was precisely this kind of disrespect from both parties that I sought to highlight. My own Race Man's Home Companion stands as an attempt to dig below the politics of identity to the common values of Americans of all races who would, properly informed, act in concert to remove racism from American politics. I believe I found a solution but it is a situation many consider not to be a problem. In light of that, I have begun to think of American politics in terms of the amount of racism inherent in its states of equilibrium. There is a certain amount of lip service required of both parties which pacifies the majority of Americans. It is only when events overtake the casual discussions of race that the party figures (and chatting classes) feel motivated to debate with some force.
It is because I recognize those tipping points that I feel that both parties must be racially integrated. Whether or not people believe it, Loury's resignation represented a stinging reproach to conservatives. After all, his academic credentials far outstrip those of the young D'Souza, and if after all you need credibility on economic issues a Loury is worth several D'Souzas. Be that as it may, politics is politics and that means sentiment often trumps reason. But when it does and policy is made the arguments on both sides are well worth examining.
It was in the spirit of tipping points and political argument that I have decided to examine the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I will refer to it in this light as HR7152 or 7152 (which is, if you ask me, a very l33t tag). It is when you begin talking about HR7152 that you must inevitably confront the work of Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Republican who famously said that Civil Rights guarantees was 'an idea whose time had come'.
Joining the Republican party has been a salutory experience for me because it has forced me to face doubt, cynicism and hostility. And in meeting those critics I have refined my understanding of my own ideas as well as the merit of those opposing mine. One of the arguments I have found particularly useful in countering much kneejerk opposition is the acknowledgement of bipartisanship. If Republicans were all racist, why would they ever vote for things that benefitted blacks. I can already hear "they don't". But instead of going into all of the other bills which have become law that benefit African Americans I think the point is best made by the granddaddy HR7152. To that end I have established as a permanent part of my website, artifacts of that historic Congressional session.
At the Free Republic, I found these words a challenge to conventional wisdom. There was just enough information to get me started.
Mindful of how Democrat opposition had forced the Republicans to weaken their 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts, President Johnson warned Democrats in Congress that this time it was all or nothing. To ensure support from Republicans, he had to promise them that he would not accept any weakening of the bill and also that he would publicly credit our Party for its role in securing congressional approval. Johnson played no direct role in the legislative fight, so that it would not be perceived as a partisan struggle. There was no doubt that the House of Representatives would pass the bill.
In the Senate, Minority Leader Everett Dirksen had little trouble rounding up the votes of most Republicans, and former presidential candidate Richard Nixon also lobbied hard for the bill. Senate Majority Leader Michael Mansfield and Senator Hubert Humphrey led the Democrat drive for passage, while the chief opponents were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, of later Watergate fame, Albert Gore Sr., and Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd, a former Klansman whom Democrats still call "the conscience of the Senate", filibustered against the civil rights bill for fourteen straight hours before the final vote.
The House of Representatives passed the bill by 289 to 124, a vote in which 80% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats voted “yes”.
The Senate vote was 73 to 27, with 21 Democrats and only 6 Republicans voting “no”.
Check out the site. I'll continue with more later.