The Inconvenient Truth About the Republican Party

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Jan 15, 2018

When you think of the Republican Party, what comes to mind? If you’re like many Americans, you may associate the GOP with racism, sexism, and general inequality. It’s a commonly pushed narrative by left-leaning media and academia, but as former Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science Carol Swain explains, the Republican Party was actually responsible for nearly every advancement for minorities and women in U.S. history—and remains the champion of equality to this day.

The Republican Party has a longer history of fighting for civil rights than the Democratic Party. 

  • Contrary to popular characterizations of the two parties, the Republican Party has a longer history of fighting for civil rights than the Democratic Party.View Source
  • After the Republican Party’s establishment in 1854, its first platform promised to defeat “those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery.”View Source
  • Republicans feared that as western territories became states, polygamy, which allowed men to marry multiple women, and slavery might expand.View Source
  • Related video: “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party” – Carol SwainView Source

Inconvenient fact: The Republican Party was founded in part to fight slavery—and Democrats tried to stand in the way. 

  • The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1860.View Source
  • Six weeks after Lincoln was elected, South Carolina, a state dominated by Democrats, voted to secede from the union.View Source
  • The Civil War that followed led to the Republicans’ passage of the 13th Amendment, which freed the slaves.View Source
  • Republicans next passed the 14th Amendment, which gave African Americans citizenship.View Source
  • Republicans then passed the 15th Amendment, which gave African Americans the vote.View Source
  • Related video: “Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?” – Carol SwainView Source

The Republican Party was the first to include minority candidates and was more diverse than the Democratic Party for a century. 

  • Shortly after the Civil War, the first black senator, Hiram Revels, and the first black congressman, Jefferson Long, were sworn in. Both of them were Republicans.View Source
  • The first female member of Congress, Jeannette Rankin, was a Republican.View Source
  • The first Hispanic senator, Joseph Hernandez, was Republican.View Source
  • The first Asian senator, Hiram Fong, was Republican as well.View Source
  • Related video: “Who Are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?” – Derryck GreenView Source

The Republican Party has a long history of fighting for women’s rights, including the right to vote.

  • In 1862, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress to put an end to polygamy, which threatens women’s rights.View Source
  • In 1868, the Republican Party Platform included a plank calling for a woman’s right to vote.View Source
  • In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress.View Source
  • Republicans have also always advocated for free economies, which provides more wealth and opportunity for women and minorities.View Source
  • Women in free economies earn nearly ten times the income as women in non-free economies.View Source

It was the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, that led the charge for a woman’s right to vote. 

  • Republicans supported women’s suffrage since the party was founded in the mid-1800s.View Source
  • In 1868, the Republican Party Platform included a plank calling for a woman’s right to vote.View Source
  • In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress.View Source
  • In the final tally, only 59 percent of House Democrats and 41 percent of Senate Democrats supported women’s suffrage.View Source
  • The new women voters helped elect Republican Warren G. Harding in the 1920 election.View Source

Susan B. Anthony partnered with Republicans, not Democrats, to write the text of what would become the 19th Amendment.

  • Activist Susan B. Anthony helped the Republicans write the text of what would eventually become the 19th Amendment.View Source
  • In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress.View Source
  • In the final tally, only 59 percent of House Democrats and 41 percent of Senate Democrats supported women’s suffrage.View Source
  • The new women voters helped elect Republican Warren G. Harding in the 1920 election.View Source

The Republican Party’s views on economic freedom have encouraged the promotion of civil rights.

  • Republican views on economic freedom encouraged the promotion of civil rights.View Source
  • In the 1920s, Republican President Calvin Coolidge declared that the rights of African Americans are “just as sacred as those of any other citizen. It is both a public and private duty to protect those rights.”View Source
  • By contrast, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt snubbed famed black sprinter Jesse Owens, a staunch Republican, after he won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.View Source
  • It was a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent the 101st Airborne Division to escort black students into Little Rock’s Central High when Arkansas’ Democratic governor refused to integrate the state’s public schools in 1957.View Source
  • WATCH: “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party” – Carol SwainView Source

Inconvenient fact: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 survived a filibuster by Democrats thanks to overwhelming Republican support.

  • Democrats have tried to remove themselves from their own racist history while propagating the myth that the Republican Party became racist during the 1960s.View Source
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1960, which outlawed poll taxes and other racist measures meant to keep blacks from voting, was supported by Republicans.View Source
  • Its follow-up bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, survived a filibuster by Democrats thanks to overwhelming Republican support.View Source
  • Democrats during the 1960s combined liberal economic views with racist views on African Americans.View Source
  • Related video: “Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?” – Carol SwainView Source
  • Related reading: “The Party of Civil Rights” – Kevin D. WilliamsonView Source

Racist. Sexist. Republican.

These words are virtually interchangeable—at least, according to most professors, journalists, and celebrities. So, are they right? Let’s take a look at history.

The Republican Party was created in 1854. The first Republican Party platform, adopted at the party’s first national convention in 1856, promised to defeat, quote, “those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery.”

Those “twin relics” were spreading into the western territories. Republicans feared that as those territories became states, polygamy and slavery might become permanent parts of American life. Polygamy—the marriage of one man to multiple women—devalued women and made them a kind of property. Slavery, of course, did the same to blacks. Literally.

The Democrats were so opposed to the Republicans and their anti-slavery stance that in 1860, just six weeks after the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina, a state dominated by Democrats, voted to secede from the union. The Civil War that followed was the bloodiest war in US history. It led to the passage, by Republicans, of the 13th Amendment, which freed the slaves; the 14th Amendment, which gave them citizenship; and the 15th Amendment; which gave them the vote.

In 1870, the first black senator and the first black congressman were sworn in—both Republicans. In fact, every black representative in the House until 1935 was a Republican. And every black senator until 1979 was, too. For that matter, the first female member of Congress was a Republican; the first Hispanic governor and senator were Republicans. The first Asian senator? You get the idea.

Republicans also kept their pledge to defend women’s rights. In 1862, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress to put an end to polygamy.

In 1920, after 52 years of Democratic Party opposition, the 19th Amendment was ratified thanks to the Republican Congress, which pressured Democratic President Woodrow Wilson to drop his opposition to women’s rights. In the final tally, only 59 percent of House Democrats and 41 percent of Senate Democrats supported women’s suffrage. That’s compared to 91 percent of House Republicans and 82 percent of Senate Republicans. There certainly was a “war on women”—and it was led by the Democratic Party.

But while Republicans had won a major battle for women’s rights, the fight for blacks’ civil rights had a long way to go. In the 1920s, Republican President Calvin Coolidge declared that the rights of blacks are “just as sacred as those of any other citizen.”

By contrast, when famed sprinter Jesse Owens, a staunch Republican, won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he was snubbed by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt only invited white Olympians to the White House.

Two decades later, it was a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who sent the 101st Airborne Division to escort black students into Little Rock’s Central High when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus—a Democrat—refused to honor a court order to integrate the state’s public schools.

The Civil Rights Act of 1960, which outlawed poll taxes and other racist measures meant to keep blacks from voting, was filibustered by 18 Democrats for 125 hours. Not one Republican senator opposed the bill. Its follow-up bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is one of the landmark pieces of legislation in American history. That, too, survived a filibuster by Democrats thanks to overwhelming Republican support.

But, you might be thinking, all that’s in the past. What have Republicans done for women and blacks lately? The answer you’d hear from professors, journalists and celebrities is... “not much.” And this time, they’d be right. They’d be right because the Republican Party treats blacks and women as it treats everyone: as equals.

The Democratic Party never has, and it still doesn’t. Today’s Democrats treat blacks and women as victims who aren’t capable of succeeding on their own.

The truth is, this is just a new kind of contempt.

So, there is a party with a long history of racism and sexism...but it ain't the Republicans.

I’m Carol Swain, for Prager University.

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