Scalawags & Carpetbaggers
Scalawags – is a derogatory term primarily used by Whites and typically directed towards Southern Whites who cooperates with an inclusive agenda. Historically it has been those individual who would have supported Reconstruction or actively participated within the Civil Rights Movement, even support a certain unlikely candidate for President. There are those who only do so to advance their profile and profit potential.
Carpetbaggers – is another derogatory term that applied to northern Whites who did the same as their southern White comrades in efforts to help America live up to the promises she made on paper. An excellent example, but I suggest it with absolutely no intent of disrespect, would be Rev. James Reeb. (I hold tremendous respect for the sacrifice Rev. Reeb gave for the cause of Civil Rights and he deserves much respect.) Or even Mrs. Viola Liuzzo, who to commands respect for the sacrifice she and her family made. Their commitment and sacrifices were commonly reduced to the justified fait of a carpetbagger by some, who happen to be Democrats at the time.
I bring this up, because these are two of the derogatory names that were assigned to Whites by other Whites who were Democrats, during a period in American political history. It was the Republican Party who mobilized and had ‘voter drives’ of that day and took on the Ku Klux Klan. Keep in mind that these are Republicans.
They supported the 14th Amendment; they were in favor civil and voting rights of everyone, including freedmen (who were Black). So many of you may be thinking that this doesn’t sound like the Republicans I know today. And for the most part I would have to agree with you given the numerous examples we’ve continued to see by way of the Republican Party of today.
So I have to ask the question, ‘What happened?’ If this was the GOP of yesterday, what happened to make them the GOP we see today?
There’s a lot to it and I will try to summarize and include what I believe are the significant strategy of betrayal.
The 1964 Realignment
Now I’m not placing blame on President Hayes, just documenting when I believe was the conditioning of it all. It was Rutherford Hayes who withdrew federal troops from the last of the southern states who were clinging onto the promise of slavery that gave the region a period of overwhelmingly majorities to the Democratic Party, until 1964.
So what happened in 1964?
Well this movement, lead by a southern minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. along with a coalition of people pressured congress to act and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the Voting Rights Act to follow. Some may recall the words of President Lyndon Johnson made before he made it law, but it’s what he said after he made the Act into law is what was essentially political prophecy, “We have lost the South for a generation.”
How true that statement was to become with the Southern vote increasingly switching from Democrat to Republican after 1964. Although majorities in both parties voted for the bill, there were notable exceptions. Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) voted against the bill, remarking, “You can’t legislate morality.” I recall reading the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s response to that by him saying “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.”
This in addition to the positions or should I say repositioning of Republicans and Democrats on the issue of race, equality and general issues of fairness dramatically begin to shift. It has continued to this day only growing wider and wider. The division became even wider when Ronald Reagan made his bid for President in 1980. It wasn’t the fact of him running, but the subtle symbolism of where he made his announcement. The California Governor traveled to Philadelphia, Mississippi to announce he was running for President. Why Mississippi?
(For more information I offer this brief overview from a Time Magazine article published on 12/14/02 “Lott, Reagan & Republican Racism” See 2nd & 3rd Paragraph)