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The way I saw it: a political history thread. 1/more
I was born in 1947 to a white Republican family from Iowa, relocated to Missouri.
2. Since my parents were Republicans, they weren't racists. They were with the Party of Lincoln, and Lincoln freed the slaves.
3. (Spare me the lectures about how Lincoln was really, blah blah. I seriously don't give a fuck.)
Anyway - in 1870, after Lincoln's murder
4. but while Republicans were still running the country, they passed the 15th Amendment, providing that people could vote regardless of race
5. or prior condition of servitude. The first serious attempt at providing the vote to black (male) Americans. Needless to say, the racist
6. Democratic Party found a bunch of chickenshit ways to weasel around that. But - for a solid hundred years, the Republican Party was
7. the party of Not Racists. And the way that showed itself was, Republicans didn't teach their children to be racists. Oh, I picked up
8. a certain amount of racism just out of the Missouri air, but it didn't come with the mother's milk like it did in Democratic households.
9. Kansas City wasn't a full-out Jim Crow society. I saw full out Jim Crow traveling around the South on buses to visit my sister and such.
10. But although we weren't fully Jim Crow we had plenty of Jim Crow rules in our society. Black people couldn't swim with white people,
11. not even in public park pools. Black people were north of 27th Street, East of Troost - and home for sale and rent ads explicitly
12. Divided the city, north and south of 27th, east and west of Troost. North of 27th and West of Troost was Hispanic. South of 27th, white.
13. We were swimmers, my sister and I. We spent our summers in pools for as long as I can remember. Whites only pools, but we didn't think
14. about that. Kids don't. Kids look at life as a given.
My dad was in World War II with Eisenhower, but not in combat. He'd been a lawyer
15. in private practice before he was drafted, and they weren't wasting his education as cannon fodder, they had lots of farm boys and
16. factory workers to send out into the bloodshed. He was with Ike's HQ company. So of course, raised Republican, he voted for Ike, the 1st
17. President I really remember. So, sometime along about when I was 12 or 13, it came to pass that we "had to allow" black people to swim
18. at the Scope Park pool, which was where my sister and I more or less lived all summer.
I asked my parents why that was. They explained
19. that black people were paying for that pool with their taxes just like we were, and it was stealing to take their money and not let them
20. use the facilities they rightfully owned. (That's Swope Park, not Scope. Autocorrect.)
OK, we were cool with that. More on that soon.
21. About the same time it came to pass that black kids couldn't be restricted to Central and Lincoln High Schools, either. Because, you kno
22. My sis, 4 yrs older than me, graduated from Southeast High School with the first black graduate in the school's history. We were cool
23. with that.
But: only about 1% of the black kids in town knew how to swim. They'd never had a pool before - where were they gonna learn?
24. We went on swimming at Swope Park. Not that many white people did. And not that many black people could swim, so they didn't either.
25. Two years the pool was closed. They couldn't get enough revenue to keep it full of water, to pay staff. So - we joined a swimming club.
26. I don't have to tell you the dirty secret, do I? Nope. Private Club. No blacks allowed.
There wasn't *any integrated pool* in Kansas
27. City. Again. Because the Civil Rights Laws hadn't been passed yet regarding public accommodations on private property.
28. Along about this time the Civil Rights movement was raging in the South. My dad didn't approve. He was fine with integration - we'd
29. briefly swum at an integrated pool. But he wasn't fine with civil disobedience, disruption. He wanted it to happen by magic. Didn't.
30. Since Ike, we'd had Democratic Presidents. JFK. LBJ. I was 16 when JFK was assassinated. I didn't know, then, about the dirty deal
31. that Democrats had made with white America. Elect us, we'll provide good Government services and works, and keep Jim Crow, and
32. we'll all do fine. Except white people will do way finer.
I didn't know. I was a kid. My parents had never said one bad word about
33. black people in my life. Kansas City Jim Crow was subtle and refined. We didn't have segregated drinking fountains, segregated restrooms
34. or even segregated restaurants. You didn't often see black people in the restaurants because we did have segregated neighborhoods, but
35. once in a while, and nobody fussed. It was ok. By the time Kennedy was killed there were enough black kids in Southeast High that it was
36. just regular life. Nobody seemed to care. Except a few assholes, and really, I couldn't figure out what their deal was.
Now I know.
37. Their parents were Democrats, and they were flat out racists. It's not a lie that lots of Democratic Senators and Representatives were
38. KKK members. I. Didn't. Know. We Republicans didn't do that shit. We were the Party of Lincoln.
Then LBJ came along. MLK. Bobby Kennedy.
39. The Civil Rights movement was tearing the South to shreds. People were getting murdered left and right, white and black, if they dared
40. stand up to the Klan and the Southern Democrats. Dixiecrats, they called them.
You've seen the video. It was horrible. And LBJ
41. Did Something.
I'm going to digress here for a moment. Bear with me.
The best man is not necessarily the best President. A President
42. *has* to tell some lies. He really can't let the bad guys know what he has up his sleeve. A good President has to know when to wheedle
43. and when to knock heads. A good President knows where all the skeletons are in all the closets, and when he needs to get something done
44. he has to know how to rattle those skeletons.
LBJ was a thoroughgoing asshole, but in most ways he was a good President. Almost a great
45. President. He got Congress to give America Medicare and Medicaid. And LBJ got the Civil Rights laws passed, by a recalcitrant Congress
46. full of racist Democrats. He said, when he signed the Civil Rights laws, the Voting Rights Act and the Public Accommodations Act and the
47. rest of them, "I've lost the South for a generation."
Turned out to be longer than that. Nixon invented the Southern Strategy: it's the
48. Republicans' turn to be the American Racist Party. And he got elected.
People forget all the good Nixon, along with Democratic Congress,
49. got done. OSHA. Endangered Species Act. Clean Air and Clean Water acts. EPA. But.
LBJ, amidst all the good he was doing, also got the
50. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed, and took this two-bit brushfire war we'd been in at least since the Eisenhower administration, and
51. turned it into a BFD, full out, shooting, be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box, bloody war, like nothing
52. since. So far.
LBJ succeeded JFK, won election by a landslide in 1964, and couldn't even get nominated by his own party by 1968.
53. Tricky Dick stomped LBJ's Veep into the mud in the election of 1968. He had a "Secret Plan" to get us out of Vietnam. That's the only
54. election in my life I've sat out. I'd been home from Vietnam less than 4 months, my wounds were not yet healed, and I massively did not
55. want either of those two cocksuckers to be President.
The next few years are history. Watergate. Ford. The Pardon. Jimmy Carter. Jimmy
56. pretty much got elected because the Republican brand was soiled, and he was a Genuine Good Person.
Unfortunately, it turned out that
57. a Genuine Good Person didn't necessarily make a good President. Oh, he asked Congress for, and got, FEMA, but - he was too nice, and too
58. honest, and he couldn't play World Power Politics with the vipers. One term.
Now Jimmy Carter, although not a great President,
59. is probably the greatest ex President in American history. Funny how things play out. But - he laid the groundwork for Reagan.
60. Reagan knew that he had to make the Republican Party the home of racists and plutocrats, and that if he did he might be able to get what
61. Hitler couldn't get: the Thousand Year Reich.
So far it still looks like it's working.
Reagan went down to Mississippi and opened his
62. campaign for President with the world's greatest dog whistle code language speech, talking up State's Rights, the very code the South
63. had used for "Don't you dare take our slaves away from us!" He couldn't talk enough about Welfare Queens in Cadillacs, and everybody
64. just knew what color of woman would buy a Cadillac with he bloated welfare check off all her welfare babies. And he tied all that -
65. Civil Rights, and n****s in your restaurant and your kids' school, directly to the Federal Government, and he said, "Government is...
66. THE PROBLEM!"
And even though the biggest hurricane, in dollar damage, in American history raged through Alabama and Mississippi that
67. summer, and even though FEMA, barely 3 months into existence, went down there and bailed out the suffering people, and the guy who
68. thought up FEMA and got Congress to pass it was on the ballot against Reagan, Reagan said, "The biggest lie in the world is, "I'm from
69. the government and I'm here to help you." And he won by a landslide.
LBJ said, "If you can convince the lowest white man that he's...
70. better than the best white man, he'll let you pick his pocket all day. Hell, he'll take the money out and hand it to you." And they did.
71. And they did.
So now, following in Reagan's footsteps, the Republican Party not only talks up racism and talks down the government, they
72. have convinced the people that the very State's Rights that excused the Civil War that LINCOLN FOUGHT AND WON, should be sacred. And
73. instead of the deal the Democrats gave the White folks: elect us, we'll keep you warm and well fed and you can have your Jim Crow, the
74. Republicans have made a far shittier deal: elect us, and we'll steal you blind and starve your children and old people, and you can have
75. your Jim Crow AND everybody has to live by your religion.
Can we sell against that? Can we say, we'll keep you warm and well fed but you
76. have to give up your Jim Crow, and you can still go to the Baptist Church but nobody else has to obey your preacher? Can we sell that?
77. Because if we can't, it's the Thousand Year Reich.
I'm not confident, but it should be possible.
--jeff out.
PS up there in number 70 that "...best *black* man..." I hope you knew.
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