The Party of White Grievance Has Never Cared About Democracy

Alarm bells are ringing about the dangerous implications of the behavior of the Republican Party. By doubling down on defense of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, punishing any members who reject that lie, refusing to support an investigation into the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and unleashing a fusillade of voter suppression legislation across the country, many see these actions as an ominous new trend in American politics that threatens the foundations of our democracy itself.

Viewed through the lens of history, however, none of this is new. The hard truth is that whichever United States political party has been most rooted in the fears, anxieties, and resentments of white people has never cared much about democracy or the Constitution designed to preserve it. Those who do want to make America a multi-racial democracy must face this fact with clear eyes and stiff spines to repel the ever-escalating threats to the nation’s most cherished institutions and values.

Contemporary analysis of domestic politics is obscured by the historical fact that white Americans fearful of the ramifications of equality for people of color have moved their political home from the Democratic Party, which was their preferred vehicle at the time of the Civil War, to the Republican Party, where they reside today. In the 19th century, Democrats dominated the South, led 11 states to secede from the Union, and waged a murderous multiyear war against their fellow Americans. Today, it is the Republicans who are the standard-bearers of the modern-day Confederate cause.

Whatever the label, the party that prioritized protecting white rights has always been more willing to destroy the country than accept a situation where people of color are equal and can participate in the democratic process.

Donald Trump was not the first politician to refuse to accept the results of a presidential contest. After Abraham Lincoln and the anti-slavery Republican Party won the election of 1860, the Confederates did not waste time filing lawsuits and trying to bully state election officials into overturning their state’s election results. They simply severed their ties with the United States of America, seceded from the union with the defiant 1861 Cornerstone Speech by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens declaring that “the negro is not equal to the white man,” and quickly organized an army that killed hundreds of thousands of their formerly fellow countrymen.

The violence, bloodshed, and contempt for America’s democratic institutions did not end with the conclusion of the Civil War. Just five days after the Confederates formally conceded defeat and surrendered on April 9, 1865, Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot the president of the United States in the back of the head, having told colleagues that Lincoln’s speech in support of allowing Black people to vote “means nigger citizenship,” with Booth vowing, “That is the last speech he will ever make.”

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Written by Politixia

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