Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout History

The ever entertaining Ezra Klein, charter member of the juice-box mafia, and apparently not a history major says:

I’ll just note that Democrats will definitely lose their supermajority sooner than later. If not, something is going seriously wrong in the system. A competitive, two-party democracy shouldn’t have long periods of single-party dominance. The mid-20th century, which did see Democrats with that sort of majority in the House, was the product of a three-party system in which a party of conservative, racist Southerners entered into a coalition with the Democrats. But that’s over now.

It would seem that when Ezra attended history class, they’d come up with a new idea to explain away Democrat behavior at the time -: it was in a “coalition” with a “third party”,: “a party of conservative, racist Southerners”.

Hmmm. Gotta tell you, around here we just called them Democrats.

Like Senator Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, who filibustered the Civil Rights Act and gave us his apparently more famous son, Al “I invented the internet and global warming” Gore, Jr. Quite a legacy, no?

Like Senator William Fullbright of Arkansas who did the same thing Al’s daddy did and was Bill Clinton’s mentor to boot. And of course, Robert Byrd, admitted member of the KKK, was already representing Democrats in West Virginia at the time. Oh, wait – he’s still doing that, isn’t he? Byrd was also a participant in the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, speaking for 14 hours and 13 minutes in an attempt to deny the bill passage. And today he remains a member in good standing of the Democratic party – not that “third party”.

The fact that these and other Southern Democratic luminaries of the time happened to be somewhat more conservative than their northern brethren doesn’t change the fact that they were lifelong, racist Democrats (btw, “conservative” does not equal “racist”. Racist equals racist). They simply made up the more conservative wing of the party and were very welcome there until about 1964 when things began to finally change. Most, such as Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi, Rep Howard W. Smith of Virginia, and Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia (a mentor of Jimmy Carter) were and remained life-long Democrats. Others, such as George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and T Coleman Andrews eventually became independents. But that was well after this so-called “third party” coalition you claim, Ezra.

Heh … you do know that the GOP did exist in the South at the time, don’t you? Yup, you guessed it – we called them Republicans. There weren’t many. 1 in the Senate and 10 in the House. And yes, they did the same thing the Democrats from the area did – voted against the bill. But the filibuster? All Democrat. And what’s interesting is to see the final totals on the bill by party. You know the myth – here’s the reality:

The original House version:

* Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
* Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)

Cloture in the Senate:

* Democratic Party: 44-23 (66%-34%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate version:

* Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
* Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:

* Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
* Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

That’s right – despite the mistakenly popular belief to the contrary, the bill was overwhelmingly supported by the GOP and, as I’m sure you can see, without that overwhelming support, it would never have passed in the Senate and been signed into law. In fact, the Democrats, even with a 67 vote majority, wouldn’t have been able to muster the support to pass it if every Republican had, instead, voted against it. But the record shows 82% GOP support in the Senate and 80% in the House – far greater in percentage than Democrat support.

As famous Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited with saying, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” In this case, the facts don’t support your spin, Mr. Klein. Lean the history of your party and lean to live with it.

Embrace the suck.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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