Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mississippi Goddam: History Repeats Itself

Chris McDaniel is still griping over his primary loss because Blacks crossed over to vote for Thad Cochran.  It seems the lessons of the Civil Rights movement still haven't been learned in Mississippi 50 years later, as "real conservatives" continue to fight the same battles.  In McDaniel and his followers' perverse minds, the black vote doesn't count as it doesn't represent their "conservative values."

It seems that to vote Republican in Mississippi you have to pass a conservative litmus test, recalling the Jim Crow era when many blacks had to take "literacy tests" in order to vote.  Fortunately, these tests were done away with the federal voting rights laws of 1965, which followed on the heels of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lyndon Johnson felt at the time that this legislation would alienate Southern white voters, who had traditionally voted Democratic, and it seems his prophecy has been borne out by the Southern Tea Party, which appears to be the most recalcitrant of Dixiecrats turned Republican.

I remember the days when the only way you could vote in the Southern primaries was to be Democrat, as Republicans were far and few between.  Today, the opposite seems to be true.  Looking at the Mississippi US Senate election, 374,000 persons voted in the Republican primary as opposed to 84,000 in the Democratic primary.  An estimated 35,000 Democrats crossed over to vote in the Republican primary.

All this anger exhibited by the Tea Party shows a profound ignorance of history, especially when you consider that most Blacks initially joined the Republican Party, as it was the Party of Lincoln, but as the party became increasingly more conservative, Blacks drifted to the Democratic Party.  However, in order to get the votes Johnson needed to pass the Civil Rights Bill in 1964, he counted on Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen to help override the Dixiecrats, who were staunchly opposed to the bill.  Something the Republican National Committee actually brags about.

So, who exactly are the Mississippi teabaggers?  I guess to avoid any confusion they simply call themselves conservative, yet they vote Republican and take a major role in crafting party policy.  It seems that for better and for worse they have chosen to pitch their tents with the GOP, as long as the Grand Old Party continues to promote their interests.  In their addled minds, Cochran broke some kind of sacred pledge when he actively courted black votes to carry him past McDaniel in the run-off.

Cochran is your classic Southern politician who is old enough to have been around at the time of the Civil Rights movement.  In fact, Cochran was a Dixiecrat turned Republican in the mid-60s who threw his support behind Nixon in the 1968 election and was first elected to political office in 1972 as a US Representative.  The irony here is that he most likely made the switch because of the Civil Rights Act and here he is now relying on Black votes to win a seventh term in the Senate.

Fifty years later, the fissures are all still there.  Southern Black Americans have certainly made a number of political gains but still find themselves odd man out in political backwaters like Mississippi.  They represent 37 per cent of the population (the largest of any state) yet have to rely on guys like Cochran to represent their interests in Washington.  Bennie Thompson is the only representative they have in the House.

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