Jim Crow America Today: When a political party abandons democracy to “save” the nation

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As expected, House Republicans elected Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Trump’s choice for the conference chair, to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). This means that the four main Republican House leaders – Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Stefanik and Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer (R -AL) – all voted to topple Biden’s 2020 victory after the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill.

Stefanik thanked “President Trump for his support”, saying “he is a vital part of our Republican team.” She went on to say that “House Republicans are united in our fight to save our country from the radical Socialist Democratic agenda of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi.”

The May 14 vote confirmed that the leaders of the current Republican Party are ready to abandon democracy in order to save the country from what they call “socialism.”

But what Republicans mean when they say “socialism” is not the political system that most countries recognize when they use that word: a system in which the people, through their government, own the production methods. What Republicans mean comes from America’s peculiar history after the Civil War, when the new national taxation coincided with the expansion of the vote to include black males.

In the years since the shooting was stopped, white Southerners who hated the idea that black men could use the vote to protect themselves terrorized their black neighbors. Impersonating the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers, they dressed in white robes with hoods to cover their faces and warned former slaves not to come to the polls. But in 1870, Congress created the Department of Justice, and US President Grant’s Attorney General set out to destroy the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1871, the leaders of the South changed their tactics. The same men who had sworn that blacks would never be equal to whites began to say that their objection to the black vote was not based on race. No, they said, their objection was that black people were poor and uneducated and would elect lawmakers who promised to give them things – hospitals, roads and schools – that could only be paid for through tax deductions. on people with property: White men. In this formulation, voting was not a means of ensuring equality; it was a redistribution of wealth from hard-working white men to African Americans who wanted handouts. The black vote meant “socialism,” and it would destroy America.

With this argument, northerners who had fought alongside their black colleagues and insisted that they should be equal before the law on racial grounds were willing to see black men excluded from the ballot box. The black vote, which northerners had recognized as the key to African Americans being able to protect their interests – and, for that matter, defend the national government against the former Confederates who still wanted to destroy it – slowed down. And then it stopped.

The South has become a one-party state ruled by a small elite class, defined by white supremacy, and mired in poverty. For its part, the North also turned against workers, undermining the labor movement and focusing on protecting new industrial factories whose owners claimed to be the engines of the economy.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression changed this equation. When the economy’s bottom fell, Democrats under Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed government to regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. As early as 1937, Republican businessmen and Southern Democrats began to talk about coming together to stop what they saw as socialism. But most Americans liked this New Deal, and its opponents had little hope of attracting enough voters to stop its expansion.

This equation changed after World War II, when Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower began to use government to advance racial equality. The desegregation of the military by Truman in 1948 prompted the Southern Democrats to form their own short-lived segregationist party. The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas, declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional, allowed opponents of the new government system to link racism to their cause. They warned that expanded government meant costly protection of black rights, costing taxpayers money. They argued that it was simply a redistribution of wealth, just as their counterparts had done in Reconstruction South.

With the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this argument increasingly fueled the idea that blacks and brunettes were lazy and wanted to receive handouts from the government rather than work. Businessmen and social traditionalists keen to get rid of the People’s New Deal government told voters government programs to help ordinary Americans were “socialism,” redistributing money from working whites to lazy people of color. . They spoke of “doers” and “takers”.

To purge the nation of socialism, then, and bring it back to the pre-New Deal government, they set out to limit the vote. In 1980, Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation which designed much of the legislation currently passed in Republican-dominated states, said, “I don’t want everyone to vote … as they go. and as the number of voters decreases.

In 1986, Republicans spoke of reducing the number of black voters through “ballot integrity” campaigns. As Democrats sought to expand the vote, notably with the Motor Voter Act of 1993, Republicans began to accuse they were losing elections solely because of voter fraud, although experts agree that voter fraud is extremely rare and does not change election results. Since then, arguing that they are simply protecting the vote, Republicans have become dependent on identification laws and other voter suppression measures.

But by 2020, it was clear that the Republicans’ drive to return government to its 1920 form, along with the racism and sexism that had become central to the party to draw voters to their level, had become so unpopular that it was unlikely they could go on winning the elections. And so, Republicans began to say that the United States is “not a democracy,” as Utah Senator Mike Lee tweeted in October. “Democracy is not the goal,” he continued, “freedom, peace and prosperity[r]ity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can counteract this.

With the election of Democrat Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as a Democratic Congress, the leadership of the Republican Party has taken another step forward. They reject the legitimacy of the election, doubling down on Trump’s Big Lie he won. Claiming to want to fight “voter fraud,” they are backing bills across the country to suppress the Democratic vote, ensuring that no one other than a Republican can win an election.

Just as white Southerners argued after the Civil War, Republican leaders claim to act in the best interests of the nation. They firmly oppose the “radical socialist-democratic agenda”, ensuring that no rich taxpayers go to schools, roads or social programs.

They are “saving” America, just as the white supremacists “saved” the Jim Crow South.


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