Sunday, April 30, 2017

This column began as a history of the Democrat politics that has led to the global situation where we find ourselves in 2017. That topic is so rich in facts and misdeeds, that it needs to be the topic of several weeks.

A companion to this  post is here and at the upper right. It is another WSJ column by Shelby Steel, who brings his view of the state of race relations to the fore.

Let us start with LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president) and how he has been mis-characterized over the past half-century as a brilliantly prescient leader who realized the plight of blacks, and came to their rescue.

A vastly different view of Mr. Johnson may be gleaned if the obvious bias of the press is taken into account.

He was a small-time liberal who catapulted himself into the pantheon of Democrat heroes by using race as the means to that end. He was a brilliant manipulator who seized the reins of government and took the opportunities that Kennedy’s assassination offered him.

When Kennedy and he were linked as running mates, Johnson was Speaker of the House. Kennedy did not select Johnson as his running-mate for ideological similarity, but because he was from Texas which would counter the Boston bias that he presented.  

 

After the assassination, when Johnson took hold of the reins of government, this nation was mired in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. John Kennedy had aggravated the situation in many ways: the Cuban missile crisis, the Berlin wall, and other dire confrontations. Johnson inherited the global mess and promptly added the Red Chinese to our list of enemies by escalating a tiny conflict in Southeast Asia to produce the all-out effort that became the Vietnam War.

Such was Johnson’s genius.

On the home front, he sought having his name associated with lifting Blacks out of ‘slavery.’ Johnson was president when many of the events that changed the status of black people occurred although he had no part in any of them. He inserted himself into the picture where his politician's mind told him that it would be most advantageous.

 

Martin Luther King had mobilized an epoch-making response to the inequalities of segregation, and was beginning to make inroads into the status quo that the Democrat party was intent on keeping.

Johnson could read the handwriting on the wall, and set himself up as a loving friend of Martin Luther King and Blacks everywhere. Democrat politicians are adept at inserting themselves into situations where they can make themselves appear to be an essential part of some effort which will gain them recognition. Johnson was quick to do this. The press bought into this story.

The reality was, and the stark truth is, that the Democrat party had a splinter group of Southern state party members who had formed the Dixiecrat party which supported Strom Thurmond, a closet-KKK member, for president in 1948. This splinter group of the Democrat party was very much alive in 1964, when Johnson was elected. They later broke off, and supported George Wallace in the 1968 election when Richard Nixon became president.

This splinter group was a major faction and voting block within the Democrat party of the time. All the press, currently, conveniently forgets that the purveyors of racism were all Democrats. It had been this way since the Civil War.

The view of history has been carefully crafted to whitewash (to use the operative term from the time) the party of Kennedy and Johnson. The Democrat party was the party of segregation and the party of suppression of Blacks.

This writer grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and remembers well the summer of 1961 (I was 15) when much of the race-based turmoil began. The first ‘Freedom Rides’ were held in many Southern states, and gleaned much press coverage as municipal buses were boarded by mixed-race groups throughout the South. This was in contravention of laws and customs that made seating on buses segregated. Segregation was law in most of the South.

In many places in the South, it was illegal at that time for the races to mix. There were white only bathrooms, ‘colored’ balconies at movie theaters, and other facilities of that sort. This was all done when the South was predominantly Democrat – predominantly in this case means 100%.

It was these situations that Johnson purportedly took over by storm to put things right. That was hardly the truth of the matter. Republicans had been working for the previous half-century to take over those areas, not for purposes of de-segregation or any other racial cause, but for breaking the hold that the Democrat party had on the South.

The presidential election of 1968 was won by Richard Nixon. The Democrat vote was split between Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace whose combined total of electoral votes would not have been sufficient to defeat Nixon, but whose total of the popular vote was a definite majority of the votes cast.

At the time, George Wallace was governor of Alabama. The George Wallace vote was composed of votes from states from the old Confederacy. At the time, Democrat votes were definitely not anti-racist. Black people voted for Democrats in the South because Democrats had the only chance to win.

Places where they moved out of the South, were large cities, generally, which were also under the thumb of Democrats. Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, and other places were a draw for Blacks because of the opportunities for jobs there. Many industries in those locations were heavily unionized, which did not allow Blacks at that time. The somewhat enigmatic affinity between Blacks and the Democrat party continued even though it made no sense.

Lyndon Johnson took all this in, and set himself up as the creator of the supremacy of the Democrat party, with his arms out to Blacks, with his welcome mat out for union members, and with a wink to the South.

Johnson was a consummate politician.

The point of that is that the Democrat party maintained its edge in the majority of American voters, and definitely in the edge of American bigot voters. This is a mysterious fact that remains true today: Black voters will not consider a Republican.

Johnson decided that his presidency was doomed because of the Vietnam War. He told his supporters that he would not run for president in 1968.

 

The year of 1968 was an epoch-making year which produced the assassination of Martin Luther King, the murder of Bobby Kennedy, and the election of Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace.

That was a year when disaster struck at every turn for nearly everyone.