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Could The Civil Rights Act Of 1964 Make It Through Congress Today?

Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Civil_Rights_Act,_July_2,_1964

It was fifty years ago today that Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a ceremony attended by Congressional leaders and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By most accounts, this piece of legislation is considered one of the most important laws of the 20th Century and, indeed, among the most important pieces of legislation to pass in the last twenty years. As I noted last week, those people currently serving in Congress marked the occasion with a ceremony postumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. That ceremony, of course, was marked by the sheer awkwardness of Congressional leaders holding hands while trying to sing “We Shall Overcome.” For the most part, the 1964 act is something that both parties take credit for, as well they should, but Politico’s Todd Purdum notes that there is no way that the law could pass that law today:

The climate in today’s Washington is so different from the one that produced what many scholars view as the most important law of the 20th century that celebrating the law’s legacy is awkward for Republicans and Democrats alike. Neither party bears much resemblance to its past counterpart, and the bipartisanship that carried the day then is now all but dead.

Congress is deadlocked on every big question, from immigration reform to a grand bargain on taxes and spending, so it’s hard to believe the two parties once cooperated to address the single most controversial domestic issue of the day — legal equality for the races — or that Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill 50 years ago Wednesday, in the middle of a presidential election year. Now Boehner is suing President Barack Obama for failing to faithfully execute the laws, and Reid inveighs daily about the Koch brothers’ contributions to GOP causes.

(…)

Yes, Reid paid tribute to the bill’s Republican floor leader, Thomas Kuchel of California (though he mispronounced his name as KEE-chul, not KEE-kul). And Boehner invoked the crucial role played by his fellow Ohio Republican, Rep. William McCulloch, in helping Kennedy and Johnson pass the bill, but the very next day, Boehner betrayed McCulloch’s bipartisan legacy by announcing his intention to sue Obama for usurping congressional powers.

“The Republican Party today doesn’t really honor its past,” said Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of “Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party from Eisenhower to the Tea Party.” “The Republican Party that had been ceased to be sometime in the 1980s, and the modern party — the radical conservative party — not only has little or no interest in honoring its history, it is actively hostile to it.”

Part of the problem is this: Although the Civil Rights Act passed the Senate by 73-27, with 27 out of 33 Republican votes, one of the six Republicans who voted against it was Barry Goldwater of Arizona, who weeks later became the GOP’s presidential standard-bearer and started the long process by which the Party of Lincoln became the party of white backlash, especially in the South. Today, Republicans hold complete legislative control in all 11 states of the Old Confederacy for only the second time since Reconstruction.

Current GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has hired dozens of black and Latino field organizers, and he himself has made the rounds to historically black colleges and universities in an effort to launch College Republican chapters there. “Having bipartisanship on campus and giving our students options is really important,” he told a gathering at Central State University near Dayton, Ohio, in May.

But the position of the GOP’s congressional wing on issues from immigration, to voting rights, to the minimum wage (while helping to rack up Republican victories in individual districts) is broadly alienating to most African-American voters. So are efforts at the state level to impose new voter identification laws or other limits on access to the ballot box that disproportionately affect black voters. All that makes it hard for today’s GOP to lay plausible claim to its undisputed legacy on civil rights.

 At the same time, the Democratic Party’s stance on civil rights has steadily shifted from the color-blind approach of 50 years ago — a belief that if blacks and whites were granted equal standing at the ballot box and in public spaces and the workplace, justice would prevail — to an emphasis on color-conscious remedies like affirmative action and social programs that redistribute wealth.

“Republicans have never gotten on board with that last piece,” Kabaservice said, “and so Democrats now almost have to define Republicans as anti-civil rights.”

Indeed, Democrats have seized that viewpoint, sharpening their civil rights rhetoric against Republicans to the point where bipartisanship on the issue has all but disappeared. Obama himself has found it difficult, and even politically dangerous, to discuss questions of race too frankly in public, and he issued an anodyne proclamation in honor of the bill’s anniversary, pledging to “renew our commitment to building a freer, fairer, greater society” but making no mention of the Republicans’ crucial role in its passage.

There are really two issues at play in Purdum’s analysis, but they both tend to support his argument that it would be difficult if not impossible for any President to push through legislation like this Civil Rights Act today.

At the top of the list, of course, is the fact that the kind of bipartisanship that existed in 1964 when the Act was passed simply doesn’t exist in Congress today. Back then 80% of the Republicans in the House and 82% of Republicans in the Senate joined with their Democratic counterparts to pass the bill. Additionally, the bill likely would not have made it through Congress at all without the help of Republicans in the House like Kuchel and McCulloch and Senate Republicans such as Everett Dirksen, who worked across the aisle to reach a compromise that broke the 54 day filibuster against the bill that had been launched by Southern Democrats. Does anyone realistically see something like that happening in today’s day and age? Perhaps if it were the case that the issue involved were something of immediate importance brought on by crisis this would happen, and indeed it did happen in the wake of the September 11th attacks in the case of both the Authorization For Use Of Military Force Against Terrorists and the PATRIOT Act. For almost any other type of legislation, it seems unlikely that the kind of cross-party and cross-chamber cooperation that Congres demonstrated half a century ago would be possible today.

In addition to the decline in bipartisanship, but certainly one of the reasons for it, is the way in which the Republican Party has changed over the past 50 years. The “moderate” Republicans like Dirksen who were behind the Civil Rights Act from the start barely exist anymore. While those moderates predominantly came from the Northeast and Midwest, today’s Republicans are largely a product of the South and the West. That geographic shift has also been accompanied by an ideological shift in the party that has made it far more conservative that it used to be. Indeed, it is beyond question that the Southern Democrats who were the primary opponents would, in most cases, likely be Republicans today. That’s not to say that every Republican would oppose something like the Civil Rights Act, but some would and, as we have seen when it comes to issues ranging from immigration to voting rights to such mundane issues as the budget, that small minority in the GOP is able to wield a lot of power over party leaders who obviously know better when it comes to issues like this. Senator Dirksen and Congressmen Kuchel and McCulloch never had to face that kind of opposition within their own party. If they had, things might have unfolded very differently.

So, sadly, I must agree with Purdum that Congress would have a hard time passing the Civil Rights Act today. The fact that it seems to be able to get much of anything beyond naming Post Offices done easily is proof enough of that. Whether that changes in the future depends largely on who the American people choose to represent them.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Another Mike says:

    Could the Civil Rights Act of 1957 get through Congress today? Could the Civil Rights Act of 1960 get through Congress today? Why was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 even necessary? So many questions, so little time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

  2. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, only tangentially related–have you been following the meltdown that is happening in Mississippi? It really looks like that McDaniel and his band of assorted lunatics are willing to burn down the entire Republican party, provided they get the other guy.

    The Dems must be sitting back and passing the popcorn, grinning from ear to ear. It’s insane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  3. grumpy realist says:

    @Another Mike: Um, well speaking as a female, that “non-discrimination in employment by basis of sex” that got stuck into the 1964 Act has turned out to be quite important to 51% of the population….

    You might want to consider that a little.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    Could anything make it through Congress today?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  5. C. Clavin says:

    Could it make it thru Congress today?
    Wrong question.
    Can it survive the Roberts Court?
    That’s the right question.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 4

  6. rudderpedals says:

    No, it wouldn’t be possible today even though as recently as 2006 the voting rights act renewal passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisian basis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. gVOR08 says:

    POLITICO danced around this a bit, but Doug’s exactly right, and thanks for confronting it. The Southern Dems would still oppose an equivalent Civil Rights act now, if it had not previously been passed. It’s just that there are a few more of them now, and they call themselves the Republicans. And yes, a number of modern Republicans might wish to vote for it, but none of them would.

    Of course it’s a little more complicated. Without the Civil Rights Act the Southern Strategy would never have come up and they’d still be Southern Dems. And if they went back in time and met themselves the space-time continuum would unravel, or something. Maybe the northern Rs would have become Dems and we’d all be in SDs nightmare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  8. superdestroyer says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Why should this be so hard to understand. The establishment Republicans have treated fiscal conservatives and social conservatives in much the same way that the Democrats have treated blacks and Latinos. The establishment Republicans feel that they do not have to appeal to Tea Party types because it is believed that their voting habits are automatic and always for Republicans.

    However, there have been several wonks and pundits who have noticed that the Tea Party types in the Republican Party are not as easy to manage as blacks and Latinos are for the Democratic Party. My guess is that many more establishment Republicans will be changing their party affiliation to the Democratic Party in the hopes of retain some amount of influence on policy and governance rather than try to persuade the Tea Party types that pork barrel spending, corporate welfare, and open borders is a good idea.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 17

  9. Another Mike says:

    @grumpy realist:

    that “non-discrimination in employment by basis of sex” that got stuck into the 1964 Act has turned out to be quite important to 51% of the population

    In theory at least.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    Still basing everything on the Sothern strategy mythLie. Sigh….

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 25

  11. CB says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Shut ‘er down, we’re done here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. al-Ameda says:

    Could the Bill of Rights get through this Congress?

    Of course the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could get through Congress today – if the president agreed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. Tyrell says:

    Johnson was a master politician, probably the best of the 20th. Century. Congress did work differently back then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    Johnson was a master politician, probably the best of the 20th. Century.

    “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years” Yeah, he was a master…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 24

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @G.A.Phillips:
    Can you provide a link that proves LBJ ever said that ?
    And I mean PROVES.
    Because after spending sometime looking at it… It seems like a right-wing wet dream.
    Like the Michelle Obama “Whitey” comment.
    So put up snotty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That geographic shift has also been accompanied by an ideological shift in the party that has made it far more conservative racist that it used to be.

    FTFY Doug. Happy to be of service. This one is free of charge.

    More seriously Doug, at some point you are going to have to tell it like it really is, if for no other reason than there ain’t enuf lipstick in the world to dress up that pig.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  17. C. Clavin says:

    @G.A.Phillips:
    Or that Al Gore said he invented the internet.
    Another Republican myth.
    And when you look at what he actually said…it’s verifiably true.
    So I’m left asking…lacking any backup from you…why do Republicans have to lie to make their arguments? I mean…if you actually had an argument…it seems like you wouldn’t have to lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  18. C. Clavin says:

    An anonymous source told me that GA was born a man with a teeny tiny penis but is now a woman with a severe nasal infection.
    It fits my predetermined conception of GA … so it must be true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  19. jim m says:

    If they had passed the Civil Rights Act with an expiration that had to be renewed every few years, you bet they would pass it. Incumbents would trip all over themselves trying to show how they are such men/women of the people and how noble they are for supporting it. They will insist on a roll call vote so they can record their support of it.

    It would sale through unanimously in both houses (although there is always the opportunity for a crack pot to try to make some loopy statement by voting against it). The media would cover it like the union has been saved from another Civil War every time it is renewed.

    Yeah. When it comes to looking good for an election Congress can get anything they want done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @jim m:
    Republicans falling over themselves to help minorities?
    Sounds just like your family unwilling to drive across town to save their kids life.
    Or sex being a lifestyle choice.
    Utter BS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  21. Pinky says:

    What’s changed more than anything is the Democratic Party, following the 1968 Convention. It used to believe in a strong defense and equality. Now it’s been overrun by the radicals who insist on herding everyone by race, sex, and class. Republicans have become economists, math-oriented and believing in individual optimisation, and Democrats have become sociologists, believing that everything is competing groups. It’s Hayek versus Foucault.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 22

  22. Dave Schuler says:

    No. But, then, the Bill of Rights couldn’t be passed in the present Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Jack says:

    Considering the number of Democrats who opposed it then…

    The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC): “This so-called Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress.”

    On the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed a filibustering address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation.

    The original House version:[20]

    Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)
    Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)

    Cloture in the Senate:[21]

    Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)
    Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

    The Senate version:[20]

    Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
    Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

    The Senate version, voted on by the House:[20]

    Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
    Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

    I’d say by the looks of it, if it weren’t for the Democrat party, it would have passed years before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

  24. Jack says:

    To this day, Democrats continue to act like Racists:

    “(Obama’s) a nice person, he’s very articulate this is what’s been used against him, but he couldn’t sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic.” — Dan Rather

    “A few years ago, (Barack Obama) would have been getting us coffee.” — Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy

    “(Harry Reid) was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” — Harry Reid’s comments reported by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

    “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.” — Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

    “Them Jews aren’t going to let (Obama) talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office. …They will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is.” — Jeremiah Wright

    “White people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. It’s for the good of the country and for those who’re bitter for a reason and armed because they’re scared.” — Left-wing journalist Jonathan Valania

    “We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.” — Helen Thomas

    “You cannot go to a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent.” — Joe Biden

    “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” — Joe Biden

    “I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street.” — Spike Lee

    “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go.” — Marion Barry

    “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…” — Barack Obama

    Yeah, it’s the Republicans that are racist (eyeroll).

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

  25. David M says:

    @Jack:

    For obvious reasons, the division that mattered was Northern vs. Southern.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  26. Jack says:

    @David M: Considering there were a grand total of 10 Republicans compared to 94 Democrats in the south when it finally passed, it still indicates that the Democrats were the main obstruction to passage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  27. bill says:

    given how great things turned out for blacks since then, do you really think it was a good thing? and i wasn’t aware that blacks were all about immigration rights- when did that happen?
    but if you really want everyone to be equal, stop putting “ethnicity” boxes on gov’t. forms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

  28. Jack says:

    @Jack: Correction: Those are House numbers. In the Senate there were 21 Democrats and only 1 Republican from the south.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  29. Jack says:

    @bill: Agreed. The government has institutionalized racism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The Democrats would refuse to vote for the 1964 Civil Rights Act until it included provisions for gays, transgendered, illegal aliens, and demanded rigid quotas for all minorities. The bill as written would be DOA.

    With the exception of those minorities who have done pretty well for themselves without preferential treatment, like Asians, Jews, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

  31. David M says:

    @Jack:

    And yet southern Democrats were more likely vote for it than southern Republicans. The same held for the North as well, a larger percentage of Democrats supported it than Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  32. Jack says:

    @David M: And yet, it wasn’t a Republican that said “I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. . . . He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation.” — Former Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd (D.,Conn.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  33. Jack says:

    @David M: By the numbers…not percentages, a total of 40 Republicans, North and South voted against it. Meanwhile….117 Democrats both North and South voted against it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  34. Jack says:

    …a larger percentage of Democrats supported it than Republicans.

    40 out of 205 republicans (19.5%) and 117 out of 315 democrats (37%) voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    That means 80.5 % of republicans supported it and 63% of democrats supported it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  35. David M says:

    @Jack:

    Have some Democrats said stupid things? Yes

    The alternative is working to prevent minorities from voting and from receiving health care. They also refuse to even discuss immigration reform.

    One of those seems slightly more racist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  36. David M says:

    @Jack:

    Nothing you’ve posted addresses the north vs. south voting percentages.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  37. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The North/South split is itself BS. The “South” is the 11 states that were in the Confederacy (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina). The “North” is every other state, which means the 15 that were in the Union during the Civil War and the 14 admitted after the Civil War.

    That means that Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Hawaii are considered “North.” And Hawaii contains the southernmost point within the actual United States, almost six degrees of latitude south of Florida’s southernmost point.

    Anyone wanna run the figures again, just counting the original Union states? I don’t care enough, myself, but if you’re going to use the Civil War as a time point, then don’t count the states admitted after the war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  38. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    Now it’s been overrun by the radicals who insist on herding everyone by race, sex, and class.

    LOL!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  39. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    What? There wasn’t any other, more recent reason to single out the South when the civil rights act was passed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  40. Grewgills says:

    @Jack:

    Considering the number of Democrats who opposed it then…

    The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC):

    What party did Mr Thurmond end up in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  41. Grewgills says:

    @Jack:
    From a few lines down in that same source:

    The original House version:

    Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7–93%)
    Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0–100%)
    Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94–6%)
    Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)
    The Senate version:

    Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
    Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%) (John Tower of Texas)
    Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)
    Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%)

    One would almost think you left this out to obscure the fact that the break was much more South (old Confederacy) vs the North and West. Now that the Solid South is Republican rather than Democratic we’ve seen a shift in which party protects the privilege of white, Christian, men. That is rather inconvenient for your argument I know, but facts are facts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  42. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    It is the original Confederate states that held on most strongly to the racial animus. 9 total Democrats outside of the ex Confederate states voted against the CRA. So even if we posit the worst case scenario for your case and have all 9 of those votes come from original Civil War Union states the point still holds. It was Congressmen and Senators from the ex Confederacy that fought tooth and nail against the CRA and the rest of the country that supported it. Nice attempted diversion though.

    Re: Hawaii being further South, yes we do have the furthest South point in the US (The entire state is South of Key West, FLA), but that is irrelevant to the discussion. The politics here is far closer to Massachusetts than Alabama. Everyone here is an ethnic and religious minority, there is not majority religion and there is no majority ethnicity. There are almost as many mixed race people(24%) as the Caucasians (25%) and Asians (38%). That diversity is a big part of why this is the least racially charged place I have lived.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  43. Eric Florack says:

    such a bill would never make it through the Democrat controlled senate.
    Gee, I guess things havent changed much after all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  44. JWH says:

    @Jack: You mean Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-SC), who, not long after, was Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. rachel says:

    @Eric Florack: I don’t understand what you’re getting at because in 1964 such a bill did make it through a “Democrat controlled senate.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I await with bated breath the New Voting Rights Act of 2014 introduced in the house by that brave defender of one man-one vote John Boehner and in the Senate by “gone turtle” Mitch McConnell, just in time for the mid-term elections. And when that great day comes we can all turn to the racist Democrats and say, “SEE??? WE TOLD YOU WE WOULD FIX IT!!!” Either that or all the Tea Partiers, like that great and patriotic “True the Vote”, will come for them with tar and feathers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  47. SC_Birdflyte says:

    The North-South division is the operative distinction. Further evidence of this is that Southern Democrats George Smathers (Northern-born, good friend of JFK) and J. William Fulbright (who tormented LBJ over the Vietnam War) went along with their region’s sentiments and voted against the CRA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  48. Rick DeMent says:

    … and let’s put a much sharper point on it, the Republicans and Democrats who supported the VRA were Liberals. Those who opposed it were Conservative. Those that don’t know this are Obtuse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  49. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: I am a member of the Southern Wing of the Democratic Party. I have only voted Republican once, for Richard Nixon in 1972, when the national Democratic Party self destructed and went off the deep end. Senator McGovern was an honorable person and outstanding WWII veteran. His campaign was a disaster, but no one could have defeated Nixon,. Most of the people around where I live are still Democrat, although they may vote for Republicans on a national level (they won’t admit it). On the local level Democrats still dominate here. Some towns don’t even have a Republican voter registration book: don’t need one. We remember the leadership of Johnson, Fulbright, Mills, Russell, Thurmond, Long, Ervin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  50. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: It is the original Confederate states that held on most strongly to the racial animus. 9 total Democrats outside of the ex Confederate states voted against the CRA. So even if we posit the worst case scenario for your case and have all 9 of those votes come from original Civil War Union states the point still holds. It was Congressmen and Senators from the ex Confederacy that fought tooth and nail against the CRA and the rest of the country that supported it. Nice attempted diversion though.

    The point I was making was that the argument is being slapped together to reinforce a political bias. The 1964 CRA was passed in a very nice, bipartisan fashion. Then the Democrats started to claim ownership of it. However, that didn’t survive scrutiny when the actual percentages of votes were tallied. So the argument “evolved” into a North-South thing. that didn’t work, either, as there were quite a few states in the southern part of the US who had voted in favor of it. So then “South” became “former Confederate,” but the calendar wasn’t rolled back and every other state was considered “Northern — even though about half of them didn’t exist as states during the time of the Confederacy. (For the record: 11 states in the Confederacy, 15 states stayed in the Union, 14 were still nonexistent as states.)

    What I’m suggesting — repeatedly, I’ll admit — is that your side of the argument pick a point and stick to it. I’m tired of chasing goalposts around the field, especially when it’s for a totally stupid partisan point. It’s like trying to nail Jello to the wall, with the added bonus of if I ever succeed, all I’ve done is nailed a hunk of Jello to a wall.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  51. Celina McCann says:

    Conservative grassrooters need a figure who can blast through the tetraodontidae caricature that The Tea Party has created for themselves, someone who can rhetorically and with menace yank the grassrooter by the throat collar and essentially deliver something to this effect, “Look you stupid dosey doe son of a bitch, we are going to argue for, and write, and pass Conservative polices, now get you heads out your ass and follow the program or else there won’t be a Conservatism for the next generation! Say “Rapture” and I’ll scoop your goddamn eyes out with a teaspoon!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. Jsmith says:

    No, it could not pass through Congress today. It was a Republican initiative and Hairy Reed would never let it come to the floor of the Senate for that reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  53. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills:

    What party did Mr Thurmond end up in?

    Twenty-one Southern Democrats voted against the 1964 CRA. Which party did:
    Harry Byrd (VA),
    Robert Byrd( WV),
    James Eastland (MS),
    Allen Ellender (LA),
    Sam Ervin (NC),
    James Fulbright (AR),
    Al Gore, Sr. (TN),
    Joseph Hill (AL),
    Spessard Holland (FL),
    Olin Johnston (SC),
    Benjamin Jordan (NC),
    Russell Long (LA),
    John McClellan (AR),
    Absalom Robertson (VA),
    Richard Russell (GA),
    George Smathers (FL),
    John Sparkman (AL),
    John Stennis (MS),
    Herman Talmadge (GA),
    and Herbert Walters (TN) comfortably remain in the rest of their lives?

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  54. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Pinky: Some of those names have some pretty significant memorials in their honor. Robert Byrd, James Eastland, Sam Ervin, James Fulbright, Al Gore Sr., Russell Long, George Smathers, John Stennis… why haven’t there been moves to purge their honors? Why would we bestow such honors as they have received on such vile racists?

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  55. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    And how many of those men recanted their earlier positions and would go on to help support future civil rights legislation and/or programs.

    Thurmond, on the other hand, continued to defend the notion of segregation into the 1970’s and never actually recanted his previously held positions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: And how many of those men recanted their earlier positions and would go on to help support future civil rights legislation and/or programs.

    I dunno, Matt. Why don’t you tell us?

    And while you’re at it, tell us how many Republicans get that kind of forgiveness after repentance. You’re a little late for Charles Colson, BTW, but David Vitter’s still around…

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  57. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    What I’m suggesting — repeatedly, I’ll admit — is that your side of the argument pick a point and stick to it. I’m tired of chasing goalposts around the field, especially when it’s for a totally stupid partisan point.

    The 1964 CRA was passed in a very nice, bipartisan fashion. Then the Democrats started to claim ownership of it.

    No, the Democrats claimed to be the party of civil rights, particularly civil rights legislation. Since the mid to late 60s that has been true. The Republican push back has been that they were the ones responsible for passing the ’64 CRA despite Democratic opposition. I will note you believed that particular lie until very recently. That should give you an idea how pervasive it has become and how oft repeated it is in Right wing circles.

    However, that didn’t survive scrutiny when the actual percentages of votes were tallied. So the argument “evolved” into a North-South thing. that didn’t work, either, as there were quite a few states in the southern part of the US who had voted in favor of it. So then “South” became “former Confederate,”

    The ‘South’, particularly when talking about culture or politics has ALWAYS meant the former Confederacy. Hawaii, Arizona, Southern California have never been considered part of the ‘South’. Members of the ex Confederate states in particular consider the South and Southern culture to be confined to the ex Confederate states. When I was growing up in Alabama it was common to say that the further South you go in Florida the less Southern you get. So, speaking of the ex Confederate states wasn’t a moving of goalposts, rather it was a response to others trying to move the goalposts by doing things like trying to include Hawaii.

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  58. G.A.Phillips says:

    Comment deleted for violating commenting policies.lavery and racism would never say any thing like that. Oh, and stop dreaming about my tiny penis. What does the C stand for? Cock Lover?

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  59. Pinky says:

    @G.A.Phillips: Hadn’t noticed Cliff’s comment before. Class act. I hope we’re going to get one of those “boys, play nice” speeches. As for the 7 people who up-voted it, well, that means there are seven people on this site as dumb as Cliff – no, that can’t be right, let’s say near the same range as Cliff – and that’s too depressing to think about.

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  60. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    Harry Byrd died in ’66

    Robert Byrd recanted and helped pass later civil rights legislation

    James Eastland had Republican challengers that ran to his right in ’66 and again in ’72 before he retired. Nixon aided his challenger in the ’72 contest with his Southern strategy. The primary complaint against him by his Republican challengers was not doing enough to prevent ‘integration friendly’ judges on the bench. He recanted his earlier racist position before his retirement from the senate in ’78, going far enough to gain NAACP support.

    Allen Ellender Died in ’72. He supported civil rights legislation in LA before his death and was a part of ending the poll taxes there.

    Sam Ervin Retired in ’74. He did not recant his earlier positions as far as I can tell, but was a strong defender of other civil liberties. (1)

    James Fulbright He supported civil rights legislation by 1970. His strident opposition to the War in Vietnam and strong support of international law lost him the nomination in ’74.

    Al Gore, Sr Did not sign on to the ‘Southern Manifesto’ and did support the ’65 Voting Rights Act and recanted his earlier CRA vote. ”By 1970, Gore was considered to be fairly vulnerable for a three-term incumbent Senator, as a result of his liberal positions on many issues such as the Vietnam War and Civil Rights. This was especially risky, electorally, as at the time Tennessee was moving more and more toward the Republican Party.”

    Joseph Hill Was replaced in Congress in ’64 by Republican Martin who ran to his right in ’62 saying that the South needed to return to the spirit of ’61, that is 1861, the founding of the Confederacy.

    Spessard Holland Retired from the senate in ’70 and died in ’71.

    Olin Johnston Died in ’65

    Benjamin Jordan Lost the Democratic primary in ’72. Died in ’74.

    Russell Long He vocally supported Johnson for president after the CRA and helped usher in many of the ‘Great Society’ programs, but I can’t find a specific quote by him recanting his earlier racist position. (2)

    John McClellan Died in ’77 without recanting his earlier position that I can find, though civil rights wasn’t something he focused on in his legislating or campaigning. (3)

    Absalom Robertson Left office in ’66, died in ’71.

    Richard Russell Died in ’71.

    George Smathers Retired in ’68. He supported the ’57 Civil Rights Act, bucked the Southern trend voting for the Voting Rights Act of ’65, and supported Thurgood Marshall to the supreme court.

    John Sparkman There is circumstantial evidence that Sparkman only voted against civil rights legislation for populist reasons, but there is no firm evidence of him renouncing his racist votes, so (4)

    John Stennis Later changed his position on civil rights supporting the extension of the Voting Rights Act and supporting the election of Mike Espy.

    Herman Talmadge I can find no evidence of recanting is earlier racist position, so (5)

    Herbert Walters Retired in ’64, died in ’73.

    In short, 5 of the 21 you listed remained in the Congress or Senate beyond the early 70s without recanting their earlier racist positions. There were actually 107 Southern Democrats that voted against the ’64 CRA. I’m assuming you already winnowed down the list for those who shifted party, given that Thurmond and other Senators are not on your list and some members of the House were. By the 80s the Solid South was solidly Republican for national elections rather than solidly Democratic as it was during the 60s. All of that supports my position.

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  61. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    CC’s penis comment was clearly not constructive, but glad handing GA and his nonsense? Really?

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  62. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: I have no reason to treat anyone on this site uncivilly. (Except Cliffy. It’s demeaning to the site to him civilly.) If GA has said anything to deserve that kind of treatment, I either missed it or don’t remember it.

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  63. Grewgills says:

    @Grewgills:
    On that note I would like to see less ad hominem here. It distracts from the actual arguments, even if they are tangential. Tighter policing of site standards might take up too much admin time, but it could help if someone could find the time.

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  64. Pinky says:

    If this is relevant:

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/lyndon-johnson-civil-rights-racism

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  65. Tyrell says:

    @Grewgills: A lot of southern leaders and people were not against civil rights as such. It was the tactics and power abuse of the federal government that they were opposed to. Many southern people as children had heard about the abusive and disastrous “Reconstruction” era. Naturally they were suspicious and against federal government interference their state’s affairs. It was a sovereignity issue overall. That does not excuse wrong actions of a few misguided individuals and southern politicians. Johnson was certainly correct on the civil rights issue and legislation. But he could have done better in working with the southern leaders in some sort of implementation strategy.

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  66. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: I’m going to avoid getting outright rude by getting overly pedantic.

    1) Your figures on the 1964 CRA vote add up to 100 Senators.

    2) With 2 Senators per state, that means counting 50 states.

    3) You defined the two categories as “North” and “South.”

    4) You defined “South” as “the 11 states in the Confederacy.”

    5) That means, inescapably, that the other 39 states are “North.”

    I, generally, try to be at least polite and respectful towards you, so I am deliberately avoiding the standard tactic around here of accusing you of “lying” and “moving the goalposts” and “being the stupidest person on the internet EVAR.” Instead, I’m asking, politely: is there an error in my reasoning above, or did you yourself make an error by looking at a source and not noticing its own inherent contradictions?

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  67. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    1) There were 100 Senators
    2) There were 50 states each with 2 Senators
    3-5) I clarified North as North and West, North was shorthand for not the old Confederacy where most of the opposition was sustained.
    What is your point?

    Oh, and nice non-insult insults.

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  68. Grewgills says:

    @Tyrell:
    I’m sorry to burst your bubble Tyrell, but the states rights and tactics arguments were canards used by the segregationists et al to oppose desegregation and equal rights for all.

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  69. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: I’m still wondering just what the hell the whole point was of the diversion.

    So, your point was that there was more opposition to the Civil Rights Act in the former Confederacy than in the rest of the country? And just what does that mean, exactly? What relevance does it have to today?

    Never mind; it still strikes me as pointless and stupid.

    I said what I thought about the topic at hand: since the 1964 Civil Rights Act doesn’t address the GLBT-WTFE (WTF Else) community. doesn’t address other issues like immigration status, and doesn’t impose harsh quotas for all “minorities” (excluding those doing just fine without any kind of special treatment, like Jews and Asians), it would garner almost no Democratic support. And even if it were to pass in the House, Harry Reid would kill it in the Senate.

    And Obama would denounce the bill as a “cynical political ploy” by Republicans to… I dunno, split the “natural alliance” between “oppressed groups” by picking and choosing who is worthy of special attention and who isn’t.

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  70. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So, your point was that there was more opposition to the Civil Rights Act in the former Confederacy than in the rest of the country? And just what does that mean, exactly? What relevance does it have to today?

    The former Confederate states then and now are more opposed to civil rights legislation than anywhere else in the country and then as now cloak that opposition behind the veil of states rights. The solid South that delivered elections reliably to Democrats till the mid to late 60s has switched to the Republican party. Republicans still perpetuate the idea that they were/are the party of civil rights, often pretending that the Democratic party is the party of opposition to civil rights ignoring the reality of the old Confederacy v everywhere else split and ignoring the movement in the old Confederacy from the Democratic party to the Republican party.

    since the 1964 Civil Rights Act doesn’t address the GLBT-WTFE (WTF Else) community. doesn’t address other issues like immigration status, and doesn’t impose harsh quotas for all “minorities” (excluding those doing just fine without any kind of special treatment, like Jews and Asians), it would garner almost no Democratic support.

    That is a load of ahistorical nonsense. Would Democrats today want to include LGBT rights as well? Sure. Do Democrats support affirmative action? Some do.* Do Democrats support comprehensive immigration reform? Yes, along with a fair number of Republicans. That does not mean that it is Democrats today that are the party of no compromise. Any reasonable look at how congress has acted over the past 6 years shows your thesis to be utter and complete hogwash. You have not one leg to stand on to make that bald assertion.

    * Your characterization of this as ‘harsh quotas’ is ridiculous. As is your assertion that somehow Democrats would demand quotas when time and again, Democrats have not been near so absolutist on this issue as you claim. On the other side of that coin, tell me honestly how have Republicans reacted to virtually every instance of affirmative action, even when it amounts to adding a few points on a complex multipoint system that also favors legacies?

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  71. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: So, we’re agreed: today’s Congress wouldn’t pass the CRA. Different arguments, same conclusions.

    Oh, and I forgot one thing: Reid would, somehow, make the CRA part of some nefarious Koch Brothers scheme.

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  72. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Oh, and I forgot one thing: Reid would, somehow, make the CRA part of some nefarious Koch Brothers scheme.

    No more so than he did that with the ACA. The more likely response would be tea party types attacking it as creeping socialism and an unacceptable intrusion into states rights. They would then scare the establishment leadership into opposition for fear of being primaried on the right. If it did miraculously pass by some procedural shenanigans then we would see 42 attempts to repeal ala the ACA.

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