In this era of post-truth and “alternative facts,” I’m never sure if people actually know the truth or are just obfuscating things in order to make people believe their lies. But, just in case, I’m going to explain something that people should really know about the Democrats and the Republicans and their history.
This came about because yesterday I commented that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t actually win the Worst Picture at the Razzies — that was Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, a faux-documentary propaganda film made by convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza. It was so bad that Brad “The Cinema Snob” Jones walked out halfway through — and this is a man who has seen ET: The Porno multiple times.
The basic premise of the film is that the “secret history” of the Democratic Party is that the Democrats (and by extensive Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) were entirely responsible for the continued existence of slavery in America. To quote the Wikipedia page:
The film briefly outlines the origins of the Democratic Party, then examines the blatant racism of one of its founders, President Andrew Jackson. It goes on to describe how President Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party passed and signed into law legislation that brutally expelled Native Americans from their land and created the reservation system. This is followed by an examination of the historical record of the Democratic Party in the North and South in supporting and defending the institution of slavery, and ensuring the spread of slavery into the western territories. It examines the founding of the Republican Party as a reaction to the support of slavery by the Democratic Party and their endorsement and defense of fugitive slave laws.
The film then examines the historical record of the Democratic Party, including their opposition to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, their close ties to the Ku Klux Klan in both the 19th and 20th century, including the support of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson for the KKK and racial segregation, their opposition to anti-lynching legislation, their manipulation of New Deal legislation in the 1930s to ensure African Americans would not benefit, and their opposition to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s which was passed with significantly greater support from the Republican Party than from the Democratic Party.
Now, Andrew Jackson was indeed racist. He facilitated something called the “Trail of Tears,” which was forcible relocation of Native Americans, despite opposition from the Supreme Court. And yes, he was a Democrat.
Except, here’s the thing: the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson’s day and the Democratic Party of today have nothing in common at all. The only thing the same is the name and that is what Dinesh “I’m the Next Leni Riefenstahl” D’Souza is counting on — people not knowing that fact.
So here’s the Real History of the Time When the Democrats and the Republicans Switched Places:
Now, during the Civil War, the Democrats were generally pro-South and the Republicans were pro-North — after all, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican himself. Post-Civil War, during Reconstruction, this didn’t really change — in fact, the Southern Democratic Party instituted a plan of “redemption,” whereupon they would take back control of the South and thereby institute Jim Crow laws, disenfranchising black voters again.
But then came Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and the Great Depression. All of these things combined basically forced the Democratic Party to shift to more liberal views and outlooks. Wilson was pro-labor unions and after the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt (a Northern Democrat) was elected and he instituted a very liberal “New Deal.”
In fact, here is where we see the actual split: the Northern Democrats, led by FDR, and the Southern Democrats, who, even though they benefited from the New Deal, were decidedly against any increase in civil liberties that it brought. This increased even more after Roosevelt died and the Civil Rights Movement began. In fact, in 1948, Strom Thurmond even formed an off-shoot of the Democratic Party nicknamed the “Dixiecrat” Party (think of it like the current Tea Party), even though it didn’t last long.
And that’s where the Republican Party (specifically Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater) stepped in with what they called their “Southern strategy.” Because the Republicans were against the liberalism of the Northern Democrats, they decided to court the Southern Democrats that were also against the rise of civil rights and bring them over to their side. To say that it worked like gangbusters is to understate things: dozens and dozens of Southern Democrats changed their allegiance to the Republican Party, basically handing over the South to the Republicans. This included the aforementioned Strom Thurmond, who was radically against civil rights and was pro-segregation.
As the years went on and more and more politicians changed their party from Democrat to Republican, this split widened more and more: the Democrats became actively pro-integration and pro-civil rights, while the Republicans (still courting Southern Democrat and Dixiecrats) were pro-segregation and anti-civil rights.
Which meant that the Democrats and Republicans had, effectively, switched sides.
So when someone (like Dinesh “Still a Convicted Criminal” D’Souza) tries to convince you that Democrats were pro-slavery and pro-KKK, tell them it’s a lot more nuanced than that.
Or, I don’t know, ignore them or whatever. People believe whatever the hell they want to believe, facts be damned.
(By the way, none of this is a secret, so I’m not sure why Dinesh “This is totally going to be the next Birth of a Nation” D’Souza called it a “secret history.” Also, none of it was about Hillary Clinton, so not sure why it was called “Hillary’s America.” No, wait, I do: propaganda.)