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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 10:30 AM
Original message
Did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permanently divide the Democratic party..
Edited on Mon Dec-13-04 10:33 AM by Q
...and our nation?

The 60s meant different things to different people. But it meant one thing in particular for the United States: a permanent divide in national politics and a defection of Democrats that couldn't abide by desegregation to the Republican party. When RWingers trash the 60s..they're not referring to the hippies or free love. Their resentment of the 60s comes in the form of hatred towards those on the Left who pushed for equal and civil rights.



The assassination of John Kennedy in November 1963 left most civil rights leaders grief-stricken. Kennedy had been the first president since Harry Truman to champion equal rights for black Americans, and they knew little about his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Although Johnson had helped engineer the Civil Rights Act of 1957, that had been a mild measure, and no one knew if the Texan would continue Kennedy's call for civil rights or move to placate his fellow southerners.

But on November 27, 1963, addressing the Congress and the nation for the first time as president, Johnson called for passage of the civil rights bill as a monument to the fallen Kennedy. "Let us continue," he declared, promising that "the ideas and the ideals which so nobly represented must and will be translated into effective action." Moreover, where Kennedy had been sound on principle, Lyndon Johnson was the master of parliamentary procedure, and he used his considerable talents as well as the prestige of the presidency in support of the bill.

On February 10, 1964, the House of Representatives passed the measure by a lopsided 290-130 vote, but everyone knew that the real battle would be in the Senate, whose rules had allowed southerners in the past to mount filibusters that had effectively killed nearly all civil rights legislation. But Johnson pulled every string he knew, and had the civil rights leaders mount a massive lobbying campaign, including inundating the Capitol with religious leaders of all faiths and colors. The strategy paid off, and in June the Senate voted to close debate; a few weeks later, it passed the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the nation's history, and on July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed it into law.

Some members of Congress, however, worried whether the law would pass constitutional muster, since in 1883 the Supreme Court had voided the last civil rights measure, declaring such action beyond the scope of congressional power. They need not have worried this time. The Supreme Court accepted two cases on an accelerated basis and in both of them unanimously upheld the power of Congress under the Fourteenth Amendment to protect the civil rights of black Americans.

Title II, of which sections are reprinted here, is the heart of the law, and deals with public accommodations, so that African Americans could no longer be excluded from restaurants, hotels and other public facilities.

For further reading: Charles and Barbara Whalen, The Longest Debate: A Legislative History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (1985); Carl M. Brauer, John F. Kennedy and the Second Reconstruction (1977); and Doris Keans, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1976).

Major Features of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(Public Law 88-352)

Title I
Barred unequal application of voter registration requirements, but did not abolish literacy tests sometimes used to disqualify African Americans and poor white voters.

Title II
Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining "private," thereby allowing a loophole.

Title III
Encouraged the desegregation of public schools and authorized the U. S. Attorney General to file suits to force desegregation, but did not authorize busing as a means to overcome segregation based on residence.

Title IV
Authorized but did not require withdrawal of federal funds from programs which practiced discrimination.

Title V
Outlawed discrimination in employment in any business exceeding twenty five people and creates an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to review complaints, although it lacked meaningful enforcement powers.

NOTE: The text of the entire act is posted at


When everything settled down, segregationists fled and the Democrats became the party of the people and the Republicans represented corporate interests and those who would forever fight against equal rights and a desegregated society. Blacks, the poor, teachers, unions, women, gays and the disenfranchised became the 'special interests' of the Democratic party.

Now, at the turn of the century...factions within and outside of the Democratic party are attempting to turn back the clock and force a return to a segregated nation. Since overt racism is politically unacceptable...they use subliminal racism and codewords to rally the like-minded to their side. The new battle cry is the rich against the poor. South against the North. Corporations against the Individual. Conservatives against Liberals (a codeword for Blacks, academia and other minorities). "Reverse Discrimination". Private schooling that only the rich can afford and minorities are less likely to attend.

Some call it the 'ownership society' or the 'new world order' or the 'third way'. But in the end result it's about once again segregating the American society into classes: The haves and have-nots. The wealthy and the poor. White and colored.

We can't allow this to happen...which is why progressives must take back their party and give it to the people where it belongs.

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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 10:39 AM
Response to Original message
1. and shine
a harsh light through the smoke screen. i'm still pissed about the spin surrounding dean's "pick up truck" remark. it had to be crushed, it was too dangerous to "them". too true.
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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Part of the plan to divide this nation into factions...
Edited on Mon Dec-13-04 10:48 AM by Q to use class warfare. Many Americans think that the Democrats were pressured into 'moving to the right' because America was becoming 'more conservative'. But it has been the plan all along for factions within the Dem party to join with the GOPers and take this country back to a time when corporations and the wealthy had more 'rights' than citizens.

The last thing 'they' want to see is a popular/populist liberal or progressive leader with widespread support of the people. Thus...the 'conservatives' on both sides will do anything to keep them out of leadership roles or have a voice that will overshadow their chosen candidates.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. Nope, this isn't class warfare, we'd win that.
First off, I hate the term "class warfare;" its a right wing talking point designed to shame democrats into betraying the party's fundamental principles for fear of being branded a socialist. Class warfare is what this party is about, this is the party of the working people and the poor and its raison d'etra is to protect the workers and the poor from the powerful and the rich. But the republicans use the term "class warfare" to mau-mau the democrats into taking our premier issue, our most unifying and populist issue, economic justice, off the table.

And what are we left with then? The ancillary issues, civil rights (right wing translation: blacks take your jobs, screw your daughters in the integrated public schools) gay rights (homos teaching homosexuality to your kids in the schools), environmentalism (tree huggers), feminism (ball busting bitches like that Hilary Clinton), Welfare (taking my money to give to lazy black welfare queens driving welfare cadillacs).

The thing is, these divisive issues, including civil rights, are not "class" issues and they have nothing to do with class warfare. They are actually distractions from the class issues that people should be concerned about. The poor whites in the south should recognize that their interests are more in line with those of the poor blacks, but instead, they are divided by this racist issue stoked by the republicans.

Anyway, the civil rights act didn't create the issue, the deep division had been there since the civil war, since the founding of this nation, there has been the same division over slavery.

When the civil rights act passed, the south abandoned the democratic party. The party, under the leadership of a southerner, Johnson, did the right thing with great bravery and suffered greatly for it (only 2 dems elected president since, think about it).

But the issue was always there, the democrats knew what they were doing, they knew the south would reject the party for standing up for black civil rights, and they did it anyway. And the republicans know equally well they are exploiting the racists by pandering to them.

But thats not class warfare, thats just exploiting a hot issue that divides people, same as with abortion and homosexuality, these are not class issues, in fact, these are distractions from the real class issues. And unfortunately, they are too successful as distractions, they have distracted even the democrats from what should be their core issue, CLASS WARFARE.
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PROGRESSIVE1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. true
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Bluzmann57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
3. Interesting comments in the last three paragraphs
I must admit that I have fallen into one or two of those traps and have seen the error of my ways. But as a Liberal, I have to say that I am not the most educated person around, in fact, academics bore me; I am not black, although I9 don't give a damn if a person is black, white, yellow, or a little green guy from Mars, as long as he or she is a good person. I suppose since I belong to a Union, that may make me a minority but otherwise, I'm about as mainstream as they come. I strongly resent the neocons trying to make people like me look bad just because we are ordinary working stiffs who happen to believe that all races, colors, and creeds should make up this once great land of ours. I know that my rant is a bit off subject and I apologize for that, but when I feel as strongly about an issue as this one, ya can't shut me up. Very good post by the way and thank you for the information. This is why DU is the best website going.
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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Your 'rant' isn't off topic at all...
...and it's good of you to respond.

We have a lot of work to do. This new round of class warfare has done a lot of damage to unions and worker's rights in general. Everything is taking a shot: from the environment to education to the 'social contract'.

It took me a great deal of time and thought before I finally realized that 'some' in the Democratic party are in collusion with those who want to turn back the clock on our nation. It's not because they are in the 'minority' that they don't fight back against the most corrupt, racist, secretive and sinister administration in our history. It's because they have the same agenda, but want to keep their voting base and campaign donors by pretending that they're still 'real' Democrats.
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vpigrad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
4. How could a unifying idea...
divide the party? That doesn't make sense.
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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. The 'unifying idea'... class warfare and a return to a segregated society. That concept appeals only to the wealthy class, bigots and the 'new' conservatives. Equal and civil rights has become nothing more than a slogan for many politicians in this new coalition.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:09 PM
Response to Reply #6
11. Race warfare is not class warfare, don't use the republican term.
Edited on Mon Dec-13-04 12:10 PM by patcox2
As I said above, class warfare is what the democrats need, we own that issue. If we could just get people to vote the interests of their economic class, we'd win every election. Economic class is what could unify democrats, we may be white, red brown or yellow, we may be pro or anti abortion, but in the end, the poor and the working class have certain economic interests in common and the democrats should represent those interests.

Civil rights, abortion, gun control, gay rights, these are not class divisions, these are just polarizing issues that the republicans exploit, and the Democratic parties willingness to make them their centerpiece issues, instead of good old fashioned economic justice (class warfare) is why we are weak.

As to the civil rights act in particular, first of all, the division has been there since the civil war, the act just inflamed it, and in any event, its not a class issue. Its a polarizing issue, sure, but the cleavage line it draws has nothing to do with social class.

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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. There is more to this 'warfare' than simply race...
Edited on Mon Dec-13-04 12:15 PM by Q
...and I thought I made that clear. 'Race warfare' and class warfare have been combined into one effort to separate America into black and white, rich and poor.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Disagree, instead, race used to splinter a party based on class.
See the difference? The democratic party was always based on economic class. Ask any older democrat, it was the party of the working people, it would protect us against the powerful and the corporations. That is what the republicans now call "class warfare," the idea that there is a conflict between economic classes. It used to define the party, it doesn't any more.

Racism is what is called a "wedge," and the republicans use it to divide people. That much is absolutely true. But a wedge is not class warfare, it is a distraction from class warfare.

I would agree that racism (reaction against the civil rights movement and the civil rights act) has been the biggest, most succesful wedge ever, and it has hurt the democratic party. Look at half the issues in politics today, they all come down to race, to a reactionary position against the civil rights act. School privatization, charter schools, vouchers, its all about public funding for segregated private schools. Affirmative action, rolling back civil rights. Hate activist judges? Its probably because those judges ordered desegregation and allowed civil rights suits to go forward. Crime as an issue; there is less crime in america now than almost any time in its history, but you remember the Willie Horton ad, crime as an issue is a racist code for "the bloodthirsty blacks are coming to kill you and rape your womenfolk."

Now, why did the democrats support civil rights even though it would open up this opportunity for the republicans to exploit this wedge and split the party? I think its because it was the right thing to do, and they did it despite the knowledge it would be used against them. I think the idea of some secret conservative conspiracy to hijack the democratic party, convince it to support civil rights, just so they could then split the party, is ludicrous.

But this is not class warfare, this is actually a wedge used to divide a class so it won't unite and wage class warfare. Blacks and whites are not different classes, racists and non-racists are not different classes. People who work for a living, however, are a class, and people who inherit and invest are a different class. If all the people who work for a living would forget about the wedge issues that divide them, like color, civil rights, and abortion, and unite around their shared economic interests, we will win again.

I think you are misusing the term "class warfare" in the context of civil rights, and I also feel you are buying into the republican demonization of the term, as if its something bad. What the republicans call "class warfare" (a canting term) is actually just economic populism, the bread and butter of this party since Roosevelt, and we should embrace it.
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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 11:11 AM
Response to Original message
7. Another overt sign of this new coaltion of segregationists...
Edited on Mon Dec-13-04 11:12 AM by Q the civil rights abuses that have happened in the last two elections (that we can trace). Blacks and other minorities who vote mostly Democrat were forced to wait in long lines. Others were disqualified to vote because their names appeared on 'felon lists'...though few of them were felons. These are just a couple examples of how Blacks and others have been prevented from voting.

But the sinister part of all of this is that the leadership of the Democratic party has been mysteriously silent about these civil rights abuses. These abuses could be prosecuted under civil rights laws...but for some reason the leadership has been convinced it's not worth the time or effort. Why?

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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 11:37 AM
Response to Original message
8. I think it did. White southern dems started to become Republicans.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
10. Much of the population in the South have migrated from the North...
For example, Newt Gingrich, former Congressman from GA, was originally from PA ...a military brat. But much of the population in the South has changed since the '60's..
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 02:16 PM
Response to Original message
15. The lionization of the hard working, but poor, White male.
To prove your point, I find it interesting that when the Republicans and DLC types, talk about the noble working class, they are talking about white males. "Joe Sixpack", midwest farmers, NASCAR Dads, the guys who just want to grab their precious guns and do a little huntin', hard-workin' guys who just want a cold beer and a chance to watch the game after work. The "moderates" who love America and all it stands for. They are pictured as unread, uninformed, but the "salt of the earth". And, they're always white and mostly myth.

We are told that we must "reach out" to them. How? By appealing to their desires for that nice lily-white, ignorant, patriarchal world they supposedly crave. It is condescending and racist Bullshit.

Anyone ever notice that the "hardworking", "play by the rules", portrayed as noble, are always white? While, the black or hispanic, doing the same thing, are portrayed as "striving" to get ahead. The noble white males are supposedly content with their beer and sports, while the minorities are depicted as failures.

I was born working class. My father was a carpenter. I worked in a variety of low pay, hard work, jobs. Dishwasher, construction, mail carrier. There is nothing "noble" about hard labor. Even less noble is the romantic notion of "common sense" versus "elitest" education.

The truth is that most of the "working class" are stuck working in miserable jobs because they are under educated. Most of them would happily leave their noble hammers, shovels, plows, wrenches, behind, in a twinkling if they could.

So, do the Republicans or the DLC types say to them, "We'll offer you a better education, universal health care, more libraries, equality of pay with the bosses, job security and a way out? No. Instead they offer them guns, God, and the glamorization of their miserable jobs. The politicians romp around and pretend that they're just like them. They don overalls and jeans and muck around in the dirt and wander through factories and pretend their interested in what the poor sods are doing. Millionaires playing at being working class.

Don't believe it. Ask almost any working person if they want their kids to become a "hard working", "play by rules", etc, carpenter, ditch digger, soldier, fry cook, mail carrier, truck driver, or plumber's assistant.

And, race. Where do the calls for an end to Affimative Action, welfare, bi-lingual education, etc, receive the most response? From the white working class who have bought into the idea that they may be miserable but at least they're white.

It's the same rotten scam that returned the freed slaves to near-slavery after the civil war. The same scam that now makes "illegal aliens" easy targets. The same scam that gets working class white kids to join the military to fight "the enemy" who just happens to be non-white.

And, the same scam that keeps the greedy, wealthy, and powerful in power.

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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-04 03:44 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. I'm glad...
...that you and a few others 'get it'. We're working against an ingrained, programmed mindset that will continue to vote against their own interests as long as they believe that the Neocons and the DLCers are on 'their' side.

With democracy choking on its own bile, Blacks once again kept from voting and illegal, aggressive wars waged in our names...the Democratic 'opposition' goes merrily on their way...looking for just the right candidate who will say just the right things to make everyone keep believing the big lie.

The Neocons and Neodems are in this together. The party in power committing crimes and plundering the treasury so that they all will benefit. The Bushies are heartless criminals that have elevated themselves above the law. But after four years of this (and counting)...the Democrats have been exposed as their accomplices, enablers and protectors.
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