November 14th, 2020 Million MAGA March — CC Photo: Elvert Barnes
Today, more than half of the country is breathing a big sigh of relief that at 12:01 pm on January 20th, 2021, we will have Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Yet, getting President Donald Trump out of the White House has not been quite the unifying force some expected. Somehow, there was a belief that most Republican elected officials would return to standing up for the rule of law and democratic norms. Instead, the weeks since Biden won have shown a solid amount of Republicans willing to ignore the will of the majority and attempt a political coup to overturn Biden’s win.
Yes, Biden did win the 2020 Presidential election. Biden’s electoral win is the same as what Trump got in 2016 — when Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million. This time, Trump lost the popular vote by more than 7 million. In fact, the over 81 million votes cast for Biden “broke the record for the most votes received by a presidential candidate.in US history.”
That winning the popular vote can have no effect on winning the electoral college suggests that it’s a system that needs looking at, but that’s for another day. The most immediate issue is that it’s hard to decide which of the following is more troubling. Is it the number of elected Republicans who support Trump or is it the over 74 million Americans voted for a man who:
- lies so much that even the press can’t keep up,
- has shown his incompetence with everything from foreign policy to dealing with the covid19 pandemic,
- has said and done enough over the last 4 years to credibly be called a racist?
That both the Republican electorate and Republican elected officials support Trump, despite the above, shows that we have a real problem in this country. The question we must ask is how the country — especially in regard to the GOP — got to this place.
The GOP and The Confederate Legacy
The overarching answer to that last question is that the Confederacy never surrendered. Sure, they gave up the formal and physical declaration of war, but they never had to say that their cause was wrong. Instead, the soldiers who fought were sent home free and clear and their leaders were all individually pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. In the South, those Confederates were back in power within ten years. Because of this, the Confederate fundamental ideologies of racism and the disregard of common individual rights in favor of supporting business interests were able to be planted into the goals of the Republican party. Hence those who subscribe to that party tend towards those beliefs.
Where the ideology of the GOP comes from is something that those who consider themselves Never-Trump Republicans have failed to either realize or acknowledge. Instead, they seem to want to blame the current state of US chaos and division all on Trump. It is this lack of acknowledgment about where Republican ideology comes from, and how those ideas contributed to Trump getting to the office, that I hope to address.
Case in point: back in July I heard the Pulitzer Prize-winning Conservative Columnist George Will announce that in the face of possible four more years of Trump he was voting for former Vice President Joe Biden. He stressed that would be the first time in his life that he’d voted for a democrat. Then he quickly expressed his pride about having voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and explained that he still believes in Conservative principles.
Well, as a person who has been watching America’s GOP Senators letting Democratic norms be smashed to bits for Trump it was nice to hear someone with such long-standing Republican credentials completely putting country over party. It was also a relief to hear his reasons for voting for Biden: he simply couldn’t abide by how lawless, immoral and incompetent President Donald Trump is. In this time of Fox “News”, Sinclair media, and other purveyors of Republican propaganda, having a Republican validate the facts about Trump helps douse the gaslighting Trump and his enablers have perpetrated on the American people.
It’s not just Will who did this. There are many other Never-Trump Republicans (like those running the Lincoln Project and Republicans Voters Against Trump[RVAT]) who made it clear that they — like most Democrats — saw Trump as being by far the single worst President U.S. history and a danger to our democracy. (Just in case you haven’t seen the ads those groups were running, here are a couple of links: The Lincoln Project: Transfer. RVAT: We Will No Longer Be America After Four More Years)
Nevertheless, Will is also a prime example of how the never-Trump crowd has ignored the fact that Trump is the natural outcome of pursuing the agenda set by the father of modern conservatism — Barry Goldwater. Now, most will vehemently disagree with this assessment. They will do so because they are blind to the fact that much of Goldwater’s agenda is actually an extension of what the Confederacy was trying to achieve. As such, as much as I appreciate Will and other members of the never-Trump crowd standing up for common human decency, true American healing will take even more from them.
What is needed from those in the never-Trump crowd? It’s a reckoning on what the modern GOP is. It is the modern version of the Confederacy. When I hear them lionizing people like Goldwater, or the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, I’m not sure if they’re up for it, because their heroes are actually a big part of the problem.
Still, the common bond of Never-Trump Republicans, independent centrists, moderate democrats, and progressives, is a belief in the possibility of the best of our American aspirations: liberty and justice for all. This gives me hope that maybe those conservatives not under Trump’s spell might be ready to look at where some of their party’s goals have come from. I have to believe this because if America wants to truly heal from this last 4 years of Trump and avoid another Trump-like figure gaining power again, those of us who have not been deceived by Trump must deal with how and why Trump was able to become president in the first place. This means we all have to address where “the roots of today’s GOP are planted — which are in the ideals, and actual Constitution, of the Confederacy.
How the GOP Descended into the Dark Side
Now, this is not a piece to say everything about the GOP has been bad. Having different approaches to running the federal government and solving national problems is not a bad thing at all. One can argue that a certain ebb and flow between the political left and right is what keeps a democracy afloat. In fact, having more than one party is a basic requirement that the U.N. lists as a requirement for a healthy democracy. Certainly, there are clearly legitimate arguments to be made about the best approaches to foreign policy, how taxes are structured, and how much debt — if any — a country should take on.
However, there are certain tenets held by Goldwater — and the GOP — that go beyond those kinds of disagreements. Some core GOP beliefs and goals actually are holdovers from the agenda of the 1860 Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War. Those Republican tenets are their view on “entitlement programs,” the issue of “states rights,” a general belief that a strong federal government is a bad thing, and their zealous desire to change the makeup of the courts to one that is similar to the hold they had on the courts before the Civil War.
A Brief Note on the Founding of America
Now, to be fair to never-Trump Republicans, that last mentioned point is about a bit of history that predates the Civil War. This is because the policies and beliefs of the Confederacy descended from the original bad seed of slavery that was in the garden of our nation’s founding. They are a part of America’s DNA. In that sense, one could say that the current GOP has simply embraced the worst aspects that went into creating the country.
However, there’s also an aspect of our founding that relates specifically to the Confederacy — and the GOP. It has to do with the powers granted to the federal government and “states’ rights.” The way these things are seen by Republicans today is why what the GOP has come to stand for isn’t simply about the divide that existed when America was founded.
Why Goldwater’s GOP is More Connected to the Confederacy than to America’s Founding
We all sometimes forget that our Constitution was not the first document written to make America an “official” country. Between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, there are the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Here are three important things to know about that document.
- One of its major tenets was that the federal government had no power to regulate interstate and international commerce.
- The second was that the federal government was not allowed to tax the states.
- The third is that it only took eight years to discover that trying to have a country where the central government had little power to regulate anything beyond whatever power the individual states gave it did not work for running a large country.
However, when the founding fathers realized they needed to come up with a different system, there was a problem. It wasn’t just that some of them were worried about creating a new kind of “king” by having a strong centralized government. The larger driving point was the big split on the issue of slavery.
More than anything, those from the South did not want the new federal government to be able to ban slavery. They were terrified by the idealism suggested in the words, “liberty and justice for all.” Indeed, they had reason to be, as Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner himself, actually included a paragraph condemning slavery in one of the early drafts of the Declaration of Independence. (Yes, there is a profound irony in that).
Jefferson’s paragraph was quickly squashed by the delegates from the Southern states. Those states would make up about 33 percent of the population and those delegates knew they would have to structure things to maintain power if they didn’t want the government interfering with their practice of slavery. This is how we got a senate where each state got two votes regardless of population and the electoral college.
Most importantly, the desires of those delegates are why slavery was not ripped out at the roots of our country’s founding. Instead, from that bad seed of slavery grew the 3/5 Compromise, which “declared that any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual for the purposes of determining congressional representation.” This compromise gave disproportionate power to the slave states, which would later become the underlying reason for the cries of “states’ rights.” Ultimately, this would lead to the rise of the Confederacy and the American Civil War.
For the Founding Fathers to agree to the 3/5 Compromise, they had to disregard the basic ideas and principles that they had listed in the Declaration of Independence. Granted, these same Founding Fathers may have believed that slavery itself would eventually die out because it would soon become unprofitable. Why fight over something that was bound to end on its own? This is an argument made by some historians about why those who wanted to abolish slavery agreed to the compromise. It’s a fair argument, one that, for that period of time, makes sense. Nevertheless, this first compromise is where our problems truly come from.
Why this and not say, the electoral college? Because the 3/5ths Compromise set a bad precedent. Those that knew slavery was gravely wrong were willing to cede voting power to the slave-owning states in the name of “unity.” This unity benefited the government in terms of taxes, the South in terms of power, and rich white men in general in terms of their businesses.
Perhaps that compromise was necessary for the founding of the nation and we should take heart in the fact that those who founded the country hoped that slavery would be ended later. This is something historians will debate for eternity. Today though, hindsight is 2020, and in 2020 one thing became clear. The Founding Fathers’ choice to disregard what they knew was ethically and morally right in order to benefit rich white men has been the core of every major problem with the American government since. It’s a practice that the modern Republican party has continued. (A prime example of this can be seen in how the GOP has dealt with climate change issues.)
All of the above shows that the issues of race and business interests predate the Confederacy. So, yes, one can argue that the problems within today’s GOP are as old as America itself. (For some fascinating insight as to how those who created the Constitution thought about slavery at the time, check out this transcript from the 1787 Constitutional Convention on the importing of slaves: www.nytimes.com/1860/11/24/archives ).
However, certain things were agreed to when the Constitution was ratified. Our Constitution says the Federal government is paramount to the welfare and survival of the country as a whole. It also establishes the idea of majority rule when it stated that amendments to the Constitution could be done if there was a three-fourths majority of the states in agreement. The Confederacy fought against these principles because of what it meant for the practice of slavery. This is why the GOP connection to the Confederacy is a more accurate lens.
The Connections Between the Confederacy and the Modern GOP
A comparison of the Confederacy and the modern Conservative movement which includes today’s GOP — will show that both have clear opposition to these ideas in our Constitution. This is why we need to look at the Confederacy in order to understand the motives of the Conservative movement. Doing so will provide some clarity as to why the GOP came to elect, and continue to support, Donald Trump.
How can the Republican party — from Goldwater to Trump — be connected to the Confederacy of 1860 when the issue of chattel slavery is no longer on the table? The way to see that the connection does exist is by gaining an understanding of what the Confederacy represented and why they wanted to leave. Then, compare those points to the goals of the modern Republican party
The Origin of Today’s “States Rights” is 18th Century Plantation Owners
First, just to be clear, the Confederate South chose to try and secede from America over the issue of slavery. Those that argue that the American Civil War of 1860 was over economics and states rights are obscuring what those terms pertained to. Both issues are wrapped up in the issue of white supremacy and slavery — and they have been since the country was founded.
As the socialist and historian James William Loewen points out in a Washington Post article, if the South had been truly concerned with the rights of each state being sovereign they wouldn’t have insisted on laws that said the Northern States had to return runaway slaves. Those states had to do this, even though the state itself had outlawed slavery. Another thing those states railed against was the fact that New York state wouldn’t allow them to bring their slaves with them when they visited that state. If the principle of states’ rights was straightforward, they wouldn’t have insisted on the former and been mad about the latter.
Obviously then, the idea that the Southern leaders were concerned about the rights of all of the states is hogwash. “States Rights” was about the right for the Southern plantation owners to not have the federal government interfere in their practice of slavery. This is important to understand because modern Republicans are constantly saying they are strong on the economy and states rights, seemingly with little understanding of where those ideas originated
What’s Wrong With Having a Strong Federal Government and Majority Rule?
The flip side of “states rights” is the Confederates’ dislike of a strong federal government. When the eleven Confederate states left the Union they were doing so because they wanted to keep slavery. Doing so meant getting rid of the idea that the federal government having the right of the federal government to regulate slavery expansion because of some federal interest in looking out for the “general welfare” of its people. This is the underlying idea that pushes the talk of “limited government.”
A look at the Confederate Constitution shows where the “limited government” idea takes you. In it, they did not seek “a more perfect union.” No, what they wanted was, “a permanent federal government.” Yet, they didn’t want that government to be able to do much — especially in terms of what the states were doing in terms of slavery and the general care of the people. In that sense, it had more in common with the failed attempt of the government that was in place before the Constitution became the American way. After the end of the Civil War, those in the South continued to try undermining the power of the Federal Government to weigh in on State matters that affected the treatment and well-being of individuals.
Part of that undermining involved finding ways to subvert the implementation of the rules decided on by the country’s majority. As discussed before, the Southern states were able to cut down the power of the majority when they negotiated our Constitution. However, after the Civil War, the 3/5ths Compromise became null and void, slaves were declared free, and African-Americans gained the right to vote. Southern politicians (with the help of President Andrew Johnson — a Southern sympathizer in regards to slavery) promptly began the work to undercut the voting power of African-Americans and curtail their freedom of movement within those states. Within ten years they had succeeded in doing so — and were able to maintain black voter suppression and other Jim Crow laws until the Civil Rights era that began nearly a hundred years later.
Business Over People — That’s the Confederate Way
Remember, from the very beginning, the issue of states’ rights wasn’t really about the states. It focused on:
1) the Federal government not interfering in the actions or finances of businesses in those states — aka plantations.
2) The Federal government not having to be responsible for the general good of the nation.
For instance, the Confederate Constitution didn’t want the federal government to be able to collect taxes — from anyone. Confederates also didn’t want the government to be responsible for the Post Office. (They wanted to be self-run — like a private business. Sound familiar?)
However, the largest financial issue that concerned Southern landowners was that of slavery. As such, “states rights” was usually something brought up in regards to the rights of a state to have slavery. It’s another way that big business and racism were tied together.
Racism itself is a creation of rich white men who wanted to justify slavery so that they could build more wealth. They wanted to break away from America because they wanted to continue the culture of racism and slavery that building their wealth — not the general wealth and welfare of the people in the state. In other words, the Civil War was fought because these white men wanted to do whatever they wanted to continue making money, regardless of it being immoral or harmful to others — regardless of race.
The Confederate Constitution Federally Protected Slavery and Keep Most Whites Poor
It is also important to realize that, as horrific as slavery was for black people, the existence of slavery also wasn’t that great for the majority of white people in the South. Slavery kept poor whites poor by giving them a social construct to feel better about their poverty — ie because at least they weren’t black. Yet the practice of slavery also kept white people from getting work.
Now, the backbreaking work in the fields was likely not something any white person aspired to. However, as the quote below points out, slaves were also trained to do skilled labor.
“Enslaved people had to clear new land, dig ditches, cut and haul wood, slaughter livestock, and make repairs to buildings and tools. In many instances, they worked as mechanics, blacksmiths, drivers, carpenters, and in other skilled trades. Black women carried the additional burden of caring for their families by cooking and taking care of the children, as well as spinning, weaving, and sewing. Some slaves worked as domestics, providing services for the master’s or overseer’s families.” (“Antebellum Slavery”. PBS.org)
All of the above jobs are ones that slave owners would otherwise be paying Southern white people to do. Of course, white southerners didn’t see it that way. The Southern arguments for slavery tended to look down upon the whites in the North that worked for wages. (See: George Fitzhugh)
The fact of the matter is that the majority of white people in the South were not living that whole antebellum genteel myth of cotillion balls and mint juleps on the porch served by happy slaves. Most were poor. It’s amazing to think about how most of them didn’t realize that the way of life they were fighting to preserve included keeping themselves in poverty. Then again, today we’re amazed at how many people have voted for Trump and a Republican party that wants to take away people’s healthcare.
Historians often compare the position of poor whites in the South to serfs in medieval Europe. That’s the way of life the Confederacy fought to preserve. It was a way of life that dehumanized black people and was largely unconcerned with the well-being of the majority of its white citizens. This is very much the stance of the modern GOP. Their support of corporations over people renders the majority — black, brown, or white — into disposable serfs.
In terms of the Confederacy, one of the first tip-offs to the lack of concern for everyday white people is what’s not in the Confederate Constitution’s Preamble. The American Constitution is specific in saying that part of the purpose of our Nation is to “provide for the common defence” and to “promote the general Welfare” of all the posterity of the United States. Those two provisions are not in the Confederate Constitution. At least they were honest about the fact that they didn’t care about the majority of people in the country — white or black.
How The Confederate Constitution Aligns With the Modern Conservative Agenda
The changes and missing provisions in the Confederate version of our Constitution shed a light on the GOP hatred of Social Security, Medicaid, Food Stamps, the Affordable Care Act, and basically anything that helps the poor and disadvantaged stay afloat. We can see that the Confederacy did not want the federal government to be concerned with its citizens. It was all about creating a country that made it easier for the wealthy to stay wealthy, regardless of what was morally right and might serve the greater good. This is very much the stance seen in the majority of Republican/conservative policies from Goldwater through Trump.
Conservatives not of the Trump era often like to quote the “common defense” part of our Constitution when standing up for its hawkish stances. Yet, they have fought tooth and nail against anything that is done to “promote the general welfare” of U.S. citizens. For instance, from the moment it was invented conservatives have seen things like social security as being bad for business!
The thinking for this is that if people are not completely at the mercy of businesses for money then they won’t have enough workers. As such, Republicans find the idea of the government having any part in taking care of the basic needs of its citizens abhorrent. It’s this exact stance of the modern Republican party that makes them the ideological descents of the Confederacy. Hopefully, the next time someone attacks a so-called “entitlement” program and calls it socialist, someone will remind them that promoting the general welfare of the nation’s people is a part of the American Constitution.
The GOP & the Confederacy: Both Champion Sexism and Hypocrisy
Another hallmark of the modern GOP is the blatant sexism and fight against women’s reproductive rights. This too has a Confederate connection. It lies in the general story that the Confederates sold for their sedition. They claimed to be fighting for their way of life.
As stated earlier, it could be argued that even the Founding Fathers didn’t truly believe that liberty and justice for all were possible. At best, they didn’t think they could create it within their lifetime and were not willing to fight for it at the time. Instead, they chose compromises and hoped that perhaps later that ideal would be realized.
To be fair, the idea of everyone being equal was a radical one. The history of civilizations is one where most cultures had sharp class and gender divisions. In comparison, divisions based on race were a comparatively more recent development, one based solely on Western modern culture. Nevertheless, all three of these “isms” — sexism, classism, and racism — had been around for so long that the idea of a nation of equals was one that had never truly been contemplated. Yet, in the founding of America, that was the idea presented in the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Now, the time in which the Constitution was written was hardly about female equality. Still, up until the 20th century, the term “men” was understood to mean both men and women, and unless otherwise stated, terms like “man, men, mankind” were assumed to mean both sexes. In the run-up to the Civil War, the Women’s Suffrage Movement had been organizing in the North.
It’s important to note that while at the time it wasn’t an issue at the forefront of those that ended up forming the Confederacy, they certainly didn’t see women as equal to men. Confederates would see the idea of women having the same rights as men in about the same light as they did about black people having the same rights as white people.
Why is the above point important? As stated earlier, the Civil War was about preserving the right to have slaves. Yet, it was also described as being a fight to preserve their way of life, and that way of life included what the role of women was supposed to be. Today, we now refer to that southern way of life as the antebellum period, and the ideas that were held about women still play out in today’s GOP.
The antebellum way of life was firmly about a class system with white elite men at the top and black people held in enslavement at the bottom. It put white women on a level right above slaves, even as they placed these women on a pedestal of virtue that every white male of honor would defend. As such, Southerns felt that the role of government was to shore up the fortunes of the white elite men and enforce the slavery of black people. Those two pieces are the two slices of bread that kept the whole of Southern culture together, with the role of women placed firmly in between. All of this was codified into what is called Southern gentility.
Once you look at how that unofficial Southern caste system worked it is unsurprising that, historically, issues of civil rights and women’s rights seem to happen almost in tandem. For instance, the 19th-century American abolitionist movement ended up adding fuel to the women’s rights movements of that time because white women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton found themselves blocked from speaking out against slavery in public debate. Much like children, women were expected to be seen, but not heard. This was a normal part of Southern Gentility.
The Truth About Southern Gentility
The tradition of Southern gentility is one steeped in a codified sense of honor and manners that masked that it was a tradition of oppression and violence. Rather than trying to explain the various ways this played out, here is one stark example. It is found in the life story of James Hammond, a well-known pro-slavery politician who was South Carolina’s governor from 1842–1844. He also was a highly immoral sexual predator.
The dispute between South Carolina’s James Hammond and his erstwhile friend (and brother-in-law) Wade Hampton II illustrates the southern culture of honor and the place of the duel in that culture. A strong friendship bound Hammond and Hampton together. Both stood at the top of South Carolina’s society as successful, married plantation owners involved in state politics. Prior to his election as governor of the state in 1842, Hammond became sexually involved with each of Hampton’s four teenage daughters, who were his nieces by marriage. (…)Hampton found out about these dalliances, and in keeping with the code of honor, could have demanded a duel with Hammond. However, Hampton instead tried to use the liaisons to destroy his former friend politically. This effort proved disastrous for Hampton, because it represented a violation of the southern code of honor.(…) Because Hampton’s behavior marked him as a man who lacked honor, Hammond was no longer bound to meet Hampton in a duel even if Hampton were to demand one. Hammond’s reputation, though tarnished, remained high in the esteem of South Carolinians, and the governor went on to serve as a U.S. senator from 1857 to 1860. As for the four Hampton daughters, they never married; their names were disgraced, not only by the whispered-about scandal but by their father’s actions in response to it; and no man of honor in South Carolina would stoop so low as to marry them. (cuny.ed)
When it comes to women and the religious right, everything you need to know about where the Republican party is today is in the above piece of history. It explains how the GOP in Alabama could have voted to put up Roy Moore to run against Doug Jones in 2017. You can just go back to the Confederate model of things and see where the choice comes from. Moore’s anti-abortion stance and “Christian values” operate much like Hammond’s stance as a pro-slavery champion. Unsurprisingly these things are also linked.
The Christian Tradition in America
In Western culture the religion that has been used the most as a tool to oppress people is Christianity. America is no exception to this. Yes, the abolitionist movement used the Bible to say that slavery was a grave sin. Yet, the same Bible had been used to justify slavery and the KKK terrorist act of burning crosses on people’s lawns was (and is) in their minds, “sending out the light of Christ to the world.”
Likewise, the view of women in America has also been colored by Christianity. There’s the whole “Madonna/Whore” dichotomy of course, but in the Bible, the arguments for women as being less than human and subjugated to men are evener stronger than those made for slavery. This is because, just like with slavery, the Bible itself is conflicted on the role of women.
On the one hand, the words and teachings of Jesus Christ suggest that women are equal to any man. So, if you’re just sticking with Jesus, the idea of women not being equal is ridiculous. Unfortunately, much of the Old Testament and the teachings of the Apostles have teachings that create the hierarchy that we see in the Antebellum South, and in Western culture overall. In particular, there is 1 Timothy 2:12–15.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Regardless of what the Bible says though, the founding fathers were very clear on the idea that no religion should be a part of how the federal government governed. There is no explicit mention of God in the American Constitution and freedom of religion is the first thing addressed in the first amendment. Meanwhile, the Confederate Constitution made it clear that their government was based on “Almighty God.” So, when the modern Conservative routinely claims that America was founded to be a “Christian Nation,” they aren’t referencing our American Constitution — that idea is only stated in the Confederate one.
Civil Rights vs Civil War
Now that we’ve looked at the historic ties the GOP has to the Confederacy, let’s get back to the birth of modern Republican philosophy — which grew out of a backlash to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. The Civil Rights movement was in reaction to the Jim Crow laws in the South, which were enacted after the South lost the Civil War. Those laws allowed the South to keep the Confederate racist system of oppression intact, which continued to benefit rich white men.
With the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — championed by Democrat John F. Kennedy and signed into law by the Southern Democrat Lyndon B Johnson, those fighting for the remnants of the Confederacy ultimately lost that second wave. They did not give up. Instead, they found a new home in the Republican party.
That desire to change the courts is something that those who today call themselves Republicans have been after ever since the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education overturned the 1896 ruling of Plessy v Ferguson. History usually refers to that latter ruling as the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
There is another way to look at it though. It was just a win for the Union side in the continued undeclared Civil War that started with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the reign of President Andrew Johnson. Even though we were supposedly reunited after the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws in the South essentially created a country within a country for almost a hundred years.
When seen in this light, Brown v. The Board of Education is as pivotal to understanding the Civil Rights Movement as the Battles of Fort Henry and Donelson are in mapping when the tide turned towards the the1864 Union win of our only official Civil War. We call the period of strife in the 1950s and 1960s the Civil Rights Movement but it certainly had all of the sharp divisions of the Civil War of 1860, as well as some of the violence.
How the Antebellum Way of Life Mirrors The Modern GOP
The rise of Barry Goldwater came out of the conflict of the Civil Rights Movement. Below is a table highlighting Goldwater’s ties to both the Confederacy and today’s Republican party.
Note that the one area that Goldwater is not checked is in the area of female oppression. Goldwater supported a woman’s right to choose. Yet, the embrace of other parts of the Confederate agenda, and his general racism, made it easy for the GOP to pick up the sexism that is the legacy of the antebellum period. This speaks to the point that it is impossible to just embrace a part of the Confederate ideology. Once you open to one part of it, the rest comes flooding in. This is why the Republican party was doomed to end up with someone like Trump.
From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump
When discussing the presidency of Trump many people like to start with Richard Nixon — because we all know Nixon was a crook. However, there would have been no Nixon without Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican Nominee for president. This is not something longtime members of the Republican party seem willing to even look at. Instead, they act as if Goldwater’s push for small government (he hated things like social security, food stamps, welfare, etc) and focus on fiscal responsibility can be separated from his blatant racism, not to mention that those ideas about our government come from the ideology of a bunch of American traitors.
Goldwater and Trump’s Direct Similarities
It was Goldwater who first came up with the now notorious, “Southern Strategy” — which includes a blatant appeal to racism in the South. That strategy has been a part of the GOP ever since. Furthermore, in the 1964 campaign of Goldwater, one can see many similarities to that of Trump’s campaigns. For instance, how familiar does this scene, described in a New Yorker 1964 article on the Goldwater campaign, seem?
“It has been my lot to attend political gatherings of many sorts for many years, but never until I went South with Goldwater had I heard any large number of Americans boo and hoot at the mention of the name of the President of the United States. In Alabama and Louisiana, there were thunderous, stadium-filling boos, all of them cued by a United States senator.”
Here is another point of similarity between the thinking of Goldwater and Trump.
“Something must be done, and done immediately, to swing away from this obsessive concern for the rights of the criminal defendant,” Barry Goldwater, 1964
“When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over?” Trump said, miming the physical motion of an officer shielding a suspect’s head to keep it from bumping against the squad car. “Like, don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?” — Donald Trump, 2017
Goldwater used more educated language, but the sentiment from 1964 is exactly the same as what Trump is saying. Both are saying that people accused of a crime should not be treated fairly. The entire point of our laws being set up as innocent until proven guilty is to avoid the possibility of punishing the innocent. Such talk by Goldwater and Trump is the polar opposite of what is in our Constitution. It certainly is not how we can establish justice for all.
How Goldwater Took Confederate Ideas & Modernized Them
Another piece of historic reporting is this New York Times piece dated September 11th, 1964. In it, the author writes that Goldwater spoke about, “the iniquities of providing hospital care for the aged under the Social Security system.” Goldwater went on to say the following.
“If it is entirely proper,” he said, “for government to take from some to give to others, then won’t some be led to believe that they can rightfully take from anyone who has more than they?”
Goldwater then criticized what he called “the assumption by the state of the obligation to keep men in a style to which demagogues encourage them.”
These sentiments are the 20th-century take on the Confederate dislike of a Federal government authorized to take an interest in the basic welfare of its people. As such, it is with Goldwater that the Confederate beliefs were turned into conservative disdain for things like food stamps and Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act. These programs have all become codified into Republican talking points about “entitlements.”
Even if you agree with the idea of limited government interference in people’s lives, there is a difference between policing individual choices and having programs that ensure basic survival needs. The GOP calls such programs “entitlement programs” when really, they should be called “survival programs.” They claim that such things are some kind of unAmerican socialism, but what is in our Constitution’s purview is made clear in its Preamble, (the bolded italics emphasis has been added to highlight those points.)
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In other words, the government is supposed to help make sure everything runs smoothly and that includes doing what is necessary to “promote the general Welfare” of its people! Conservative thinkers in the Barry Goldwater mold say this should not be the case and that our government should not be concerned about the basic well-being of individuals. Goldwater’s views are why today’s GOP keeps trying to gut Social Security and destroy programs like welfare, and the Affordable Care Act. As already discussed, the reasoning to destroy these programs can be traced directly to the Confederacy.
The GOP’s Embrace of Racism & Suppressing the Majority
Although Goldwater’s strategy got him the Republican nomination, he was soundly rejected by the nation as a whole. Subsequently, the 1965 Civil Rights Act was passed. It was like a second victory for the Union against the Confederacy. Unfortunately, those of us fighting for the America aspired to in our Constitution assumed that this victory meant the war was over. We assumed that the rejection of Goldwater in the 1964 election and the passing of the aforementioned acts meant that the insidious legacy of the Confederacy that had lived in the Jim Crow South had been destroyed. That was a mistake.
After Goldwater’s defeat, Confederate champions such as the infamous segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond started leaving the Democratic party in droves. They quickly regrouped themselves within the Republican party. The first victory of this new, post-Goldwater, Republican party was the election of Richard Nixon.
The Confederacy Rebuilding Starts with Nixon
The Republican Party, led by Richard Nixon, had decided that the problem with Goldwater’s run was that Goldwater’s open racism was too obvious. Ferrel Guillory is a journalism professor and the Director of Program on Public Life at (formerly the Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He explains perfectly how Nixon created the playbook that the Republican party has been using ever since.
“… in his 1968 campaign and afterward, Nixon used coded language, political symbolism and court interventions as signals to southern white voters. In the aftermath of city riots in 1967 and 1968, as well as Vietnam War protests, Nixon said he was for “law and order.’’ His administration went to court to slow down school desegregation. Nixon tried to install two so-called strict-constructionist conservatives, Clement F. Haynesworth Jr. of South Carolina and G. Harrold Carswell of Florida, on the Supreme Court, but the Senate turned down both nominees.”
It’s also during the Nixon years that Roger Ailes helped come up with the idea for a right-wing propaganda outlet that would create an alternative to mainstream news. Granted, his idea didn’t come to fruition until the 1996 launch of Fox News. Still, the idea of “alternative facts” being peddled by one party is one that we can credit to the time of Nixon.
After the disaster of Nixon having to resign in disgrace, and the results of Roe v. Wade gave women control over their own bodies, the Republican party became even more focused on the goal of controlling the courts. This is when the likes of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Roger Ailes started their campaign to undermine democracy by making ways for business interests to directly influence the U.S. government, aka corporate lobbying. Their lobbying work helped get Ronald Reagan elected President and has since led to a system that has poisoned both sides of the aisle in politics. It’s led to a long list of shameful times where the federal government has worked for corporations instead of the people. The latest example of this is how the Trump administration has dealt with the meat-packing industry during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Voter Suppression: A Long-Time GOP Tool To Undercut Democracy
Although the modern conservative movement was birthed from Goldwater, the goal of amassing power and suppressing the will of most via voter suppression came from Paul Weyrich. He is the conservative leader who is said to have created the term “Moral Majority” for that. Movement. It is the work of people like Weyrich that gave us presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and now Donald Trump. How did he do it? In 1980, he famously said this at a meeting of evangelical leaders.
“How many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo goo’ syndrome — good government. (…) They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” (The Brennan Center.)
(Again, this ties back to the early ideas of the nation where it was felt that only the rich and powerful should be voting.)
Just as a reminder, there are big differences between the three aforementioned Republican presidents and Trump. Trump is the only one of the group that has credibly been called a narcissist & “likely sociopath” by numerous psychologists (the latest is his niece, Mary Trump) The other three have had a more genteel antebellum kind of demeanor, a sense of basic decency that nevertheless upheld the structures of institutional racism. A clear example of this is how all three have contributed to undermining the 1965 Voting Rights Act — even though they signed the extension of the act itself into law. How is that possible? It’s in how they dealt with the appointment of judges — including to the Supreme Court. Doing so is part of the overall strategy of disenfranchising people who would vote against the GOP agenda.
The GOP and the Supreme Court Strategy
After the Civil War, those concerned with upholding the Constitution and the new freedoms recognized for African-Americans realized changes needed to be made to the Supreme Court. Those changes occurred between 1863 and 1869 with the express purpose to protect those freedoms. For those holding to the ideals of the Confederacy, they immediately realized that they could not have a court system that let the Constitution mean what it says and stand up for the reasons America was founded. Why? Because the Preamble does not say, “We, the white, rich, male, heterosexual” people.
One could say that one result of the Civil War was to solidify what was in the Preamble. Because of what is stated in it, the 13th and 14th Constitutional amendments were passed. Today, the single largest problem for Republicans is the 14th amendment, which reads as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
For much of the second half of the 20th Century champions of Confederate thought were losing cases that sought to uphold their ideals. The 14th amendment knocked them all down, starting with the 1954 ruling in Brown v Board of Education — the first major law passed to break the Jim Crow South. Subsequent rulings that upheld the Civil and Voting Rights Acts were also based on several Constitutional rights and principles — including those given in the 14th Amendment.
(Cue the questions about the Constitutionality of what Trump has done to people seeking asylum at the Southern border — but that’s an article for another day.)
Today, because of the ruling in Brown v Board of Education, every time a state law that treats a person differently based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation hits the courts, the group pushing that law tends to lose. In the early part of American history, the courts were largely controlled by Confederate supporting judges who would uphold discriminatory laws. This is why part of the “Southern Strategy” has always involved changing the courts. The idea has been to recreate the judiciary in the image of the 19th Century American court system.
The Southern strategy led to the birth of new judicial ideologies: “strict-constructionist,” and then later “originalists.” (Note that a strict Constitutionalist is not the same as a strict-constructionist although one can be both.)
At its core, originalism says that the laws should be interpreted based not on the principles of the document, but on the ideas of what those principles meant to the Founders at the time. In other words, it believes that laws should be based on the mindset and conditions of 1787. In 1787 African Americans weren’t considered human and had no rights at all. White women were considered human and thus in theory had the same rights, but wives were also considered the property of their husbands and had no real rights of their own.
You can see why a large majority of African-Americans and women have always been concerned about originalist judges. Time has shown that those concerns have merit. As the court became more politized with these originalist judges, rulings have chipped away at a woman’s right to make choices about her own body, and at the laws designed to promote equality for people of color. In 2013, the appointment of Justices such as Clarence Thomas led to having the Voting Rights Acts gutted.
Ultimately these GOP invented schools of judicial thought can lead to saying that “All men are created equal” means literally men and not all human beings. This thinking could wipe out precedences and amendments such as the 14th. In theory, could even take us back to the days of slavery. This is what many find so concerning about the appointment of partisan judges Brett Kavanaugh & Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Doing so is more than just a GOP victory. It is a win for the Confederate Government that tried to destroy America in 1860.
Never-Trump Denial and The Reagan Agenda
The above points of our cold Civil War are why it felt a bit disingenuous whenever a Never-Trumpers says they didn’t understand why Republicans in Congress were so “afraid of a tweet” against them by Trump. It was difficult to believe they were that obtuse. Did they really think it was fear of a mean tweet that kept the GOP loyal to Trump? If so, there’s a bridge in New York I’d like to sell them.
There is a far more plausible reason as to why most Republicans in Congress were willing to overlook the warning signs that were flashing red in 2016, why they stuck by him over four years. They just wanted a president that would rubber-stamp their agenda. That agenda has been around since Goldwater and crystalized in the days of Reagan. It includes: rewarding the rich, cutting so-called “entitlement” programs like Food Stamps, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act, and appointing judges from the Supreme Court on down that would fundamentally undercut the strength of the US Constitution. (These are the same Republicans that will claim they are “Constitutionalists” — a term that would be ironic if what they are doing wasn’t so nefarious.)
Most Never-Trumpers were quick to point out they were voting for Biden despite having many disagreements with him. Hence, what you won’t hear much of is the denouncing of goals and policies that have been pursued and enacted by the Republicans in Congress. They are mostly silent on the way McConnell has stacked the courts, the idea of getting rid of social security, and on the tax cut that was a gift to the super-wealthy. They are silent on these things because they know such things have been exposed to be truly awful for a majority of Americans — and they still believe those things are good.
At the same time, “Never-Trumpers” have been angry and despairing at the racist vitriol Trumpism has championed across the nation. Now that not even Trump’s loss to Biden has dislodged loyalty to Trump by the Republicans in Congress and Trump’s supporters are continuing to buy into the lies Trump feeds them, the despair is even more acute. Yet, they still seem unable to see the line that goes from some of their core conservative ideals to where things in the party are today.
One Republican historian, Marcus Witcher, blames the current behavior of the current mainstream GOP on Pat Buchanan. It’s another example of how some Republicans seem ignorant of their own party’s history…or maybe it’s just about protecting the legacy of the 40th U.S. President, Ronald Reagan.
Trump’s No Ronald Reagan…Reagan Knew How to Act In Public
It’s important to note that a fundamental difference between Reagan and Trump is that Reagan did actually care about the good of the country. One can question the origin of his ideologies and the things he did that he deemed to be right. Unlike Trump though, he was never pursuing things for his own personal gain. Trump cares nothing for the people or institutions of America. He’s willing to burn it to the ground if it serves his interests.
This being said, Reagan and Trump do have things in common, which is not something Republicans who have opposed Trump want to look at. It’s why articles are looking to blame people like Buchanan. They want it to seem like it was a small and separate part of the GOP that took over the party.
The Truth about Reagan and Racism
That Buchanan is a clear-cut racist isn’t in question. It’s the idea that Reagan wasn’t racist that needs to be addressed. It wasn’t Buchanan that turned the story of one woman’s criminal life into a racist trope about black women on welfare. That person was Ronald Reagan. This was not a one-off. While Reagan is often (and fairly) touted for his attitude about immigration and the Latinx communities it doesn’t change his innate racism towards African-Americans, and as we’ve recently learned, any person from Africa or of African descent.
The underlying racism of both Reagan and Nixon towards black people was recently brought to light by a 1971 recorded conversation between the two regarding U.N. delegates from Africa. Here is part of their conversation.
“ To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.
The above falls in line with what Trump is quoted to have said about Haiti and African nations, the only difference is that with Reagan and Nixon the conversation was kept hidden until both men were dead. It makes me wonder if, for some, the real shock about Trump’s racism has more to do with the things he’s been willing to say in public than with his actual racism.
Furthermore, Buchanan’s other extremist views weren’t that different from Reagan’s. Reagan’s anti-abortion position and his desire to overturn Roe-v-Wade was in place long before Buchanan came into politics. Likewise, Reagan’s disdain for what we now call the LGBTQ community was well demonstrated in how he dealt with the AIDS crisis.
You Can’t Just Blame Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich is another conservative that some like to point to as the start of problems with the GOP. While Buchanan and Gingrich certainly did advance the party’s bad behavior and sharply partisan politics, no one wants to discuss the ways that mainstream Conservatives had embraced using racism to hold on to power and used that power to champion business needs over the basics of human life. This started long before Buchanan and Gingrich rose to prominence.
For instance, when looking at Gingrich, how many of them at the time, or even now, would say that the content of Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract With America” was a bad thing for the country?
Sure, many will now denounce the divisiveness of Gingrich and the breaking of Congressional norms. However, on the content of Gingrich’s proposals, few will disavow them. After all, the ideas within it were policies directly from Reagan’s 1985 State of the Union Address. In general, the ideas presented are bulwark conservative ones: shrinking the federal government, welfare reform, and boosting conditions for businesses via making it harder to sue them in cases of with cause.
Making things better for business at the expense of individual people, shrinking the federal government, making the country less involved in the general welfare of its people, all of these goals are ones that the Confederate government of 1860 had. Few Republicans that dislike Trump seem able to see and acknowledge the confederate-driven ideals that underlie the ideology of modern conservatism. That’s why they are so quick to defend their beloved iconic figure: President Ronald Reagan.
Other Trump/Reagan Connections
- The “trickle-down” economics that Reagan championed. It’s been proven that trickle-down economics has never really worked for the country as a whole. Yet, Republicans and some Democrats have continued to perpetuate the idea that somehow giving more to the rich will result in an economy that works for everyone. It’s the same idea behind the terrible GOP-passed tax-cuts that have shot up the deficit.
- The absolute lack of respect for the rule of law that Trump has shown to our institutions. Meanwhile, most were on board for the appointment of William Barr to the post of Attorney General. Then they were shocked at how Barr has aided Trump in his lawless actions. Yet, it was Barr who got several Republicans pardoned for their part in the Iran-Contra Scandal. That scandal — which involved going around Congressional laws, thus undermining the rule of law — also involved Reagan, a fact that at the time Republicans covered up.
All of this is to say that you can’t blame Trump on Buchanan or Gingrich. It’s because the Never-Trump crowds are still protecting their sanitized memory of Ronald Reagan that they even try to do so. For them, Reagan is the bastion of what is “good” about Republican policies and ideas. Some of that is because Reagan knew how to do and say the right things in public. He acted “Presidential.” Also, unlike Trump, he wasn’t a sociopath and had some ability to empathize in public, even if the core of his domestic policies were not empathic to the plights of many.
Still, if Conservatives want to understand how someone like Trump, or even Buchanan, could have “taken over” the party they have to become willing to look at where some of the pre-Trump Republican policies and goals — including Reagan’s — actually come from. That means taking a hard look at not just Reagan, but at the man who many call “the Father of modern conservatism” — Barry Goldwater. Doing so will show that certain goals of his modern conservative movement stem directly from the goals of the Confederacy, which lived on in the Jim Crow South long after 1865. As such, the pursuit of those GOP goals will always lead to a rise in white nationalism, the subjugation of women, and systematic economic disparity.
Tying it All Together: How We Got Donald Trump
Here is a summary of how the GOP paved the way that led to having Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
- The issue of slavery based on race, and the desire of the Confederates to uphold the general values of the antebellum South, propelled us into Civil War.
- After the Civil War, the Confederacy was allowed to continue to support their ideology as being American, which led to the creation of the Jim Crow South — essentially a separate country within a country.
- The issue of Jim Crow laws in the South led to the Civil Rights movement, which also led to another wave of the women’s rights movement.
- When the Democratic party dropped the racism that had been a centerpiece of its platform, the Grand Ole Party was willing to debase itself and pick it up in its “Southern Strategy.”
- Because of the GOP’s choice, the party picked up a core electorate that believes in the underlying ideas of the Confederacy. Those ideas are: a hatred of Black people, the idea of business interests being more important than human interests, and a belief in the innate inferiority of women.
It is this core electorate that Trump was able to tap into. GOP’s elected officials were willing to do anything to stay in power, (just as they did in adopting the Southern Strategy), which is why they backed Trump even though they knew he was completely unqualified and unsuited for the job. A big part of their reasoning had to do with the GOP’s desire to stack the U.S. Court System with Conservative judges.
Why We Must Look at the GOP and the Court System
The Southern Confederate ideals are also linked to the discriminatory interpretations of Christianity that occur when things are cherry-picked and taken literally. As such, these discriminatory ideas tend to connect to many Christian evangelicals/fundamentalists to the GOP.
Interestingly enough, the GOP takes an approach similar to the historical-grammatical method of Bible literalism” in how they read the Constitution. It’s called, “originalism,” but, as noted by the Hoover Institution, it is a modern take on the idea that came into being a few years after the passing of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. Proponents of it are organizations like Hoover, and the Heritage Foundation, which claims that “judges should issue rulings based on the original understanding of the authors and ratifiers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights” and that this takes “the politics out of the judiciary.”
Statements like these from the Heritage Foundation seem benign, but they truly are not. The cultural understanding that existed when the Constitution was written was one where black people weren’t considered human and women had no autonomy or basic rights. It was also one where the fact of rich white businessmen getting to control everything for their own benefit was never questioned.
By the time of the Civil War, the North had been trying to move towards the more perfect union suggested in our preamble. The Confederates didn’t want that. As such, it is fair to say that the idea of Constitutional originalism has given cover to those harboring Confederate ideology. With originalism as a guiding principle for choosing judges, groups like the Heritage Foundation can essentially freeze the meaning of the Constitution into the mindset of the 18th century.
Originalism allows for discrimination against anyone who is not white and male, as well as setting up the courts to favor businesses over individuals. When one asks why the GOP was willing to fall in line with Trump, his 2016 slogan explains it all. It was “Make America Great Again.” Everyone knew his “again” meant returning to the times when blacks and women could be openly discriminated against and where businesses didn’t have to consider rules put in place for the good of the country as a whole. Many Republicans were fine with this, especially with the latter part. That Trump pledged to only put judges on the court vetted by Conservative groups — whose criteria were that the person adhered to the originalist philosophy — was enough for most of these Republicans to ignore everything else about the man.
Our Hope For the Future: Unity Against Confederate Ideology
Regardless of Never-Trumpers and Trump supporters sharing similarities in goals and policies, there is a key difference between the two. The former still have a love of our American ideals of freedom and equality for all people, and a country governed by the rule of law. Never-Trumpers who said no to his 2016 nomination were not willing to overlook the clear danger signals Trump was showing towards these precious things. After Trump’s election, as he moved more and more to undermine the rule of law and encouraged more discrimination against black and brown people, the number of Never-Trumpers continued to grow.
At this point, it is clear that America has never had a president so devoid of compassion and competence. On top of that, his complete disregard for the rule of law makes Nixon look like a Boy Scout. There also has never been a president that one could legitimately argue is a sociopath.
Given Trump’s behavior as president, any current or former Republicans who (prior to January 6th, 2021, because that’s just too darn late) have been willing to call out Trump and the dangers he holds for our country should be praised for putting our country over their party. They are the people that give me hope that our country can eventually heal from the last four years.
Unfortunately though, until never-Trump Republicans get that it’s some of the core agenda that they’ve had for decades which has brought us Trump, Trumpism, and all that goes with it, we will never truly get out of the woods. Why? The Confederates were American traitors. It is not surprising that those with a similar mindset have been willing to betray American democracy and spread lies about our election in order to incite violence and pull off a political coup.
This is why we are still in danger, even with Trump leaving office and Biden coming in. Our problem isn’t just that people have believed the lies about this election. They were able to believe those lies because they’ve been fed lies about many other things over many decades. From the “lost cause” mythology to Reagan’s “welfare queen” to the Obama Birtherism nonsense, we have become a nation divided between facts and fiction.
President-elect Biden says he plans to unify the nation. We all want this. However, we must address the ideas — as well as some straight-up lies — that have led us here and make sure they no longer have a place of legitimacy in American political, academic, and social discourse. As a nation, we need to take an approach similar to the way Germany had to deal with what the Third Rech did to the Jews and Germany.
Yes, we must deal with what Trump has done. He and those who aided him, all need to be brought to justice. It cannot stop there, though. Americans, especially those who have been members of the GOP, must face what the Confederacy did to America. We need to own how that ideology has continued to influence our political and social institutions. especially in terms of how it impacts people of color and women.
First on this agenda of change is to not have a legitimate party that continues holding to beliefs that stem from the Confederacy. The points of conservative thought that originate from there can no longer be treated as if they represent just a normal difference of opinion.
If we don’t do these things, somewhere down the line there will be another Trump figure, perhaps one with a veneer of competency, elected to the presidency. That person won’t just take us to the same ugly place that Trump has. He or she could succeed in destroying American democracy, and with it, the American dream of having true equality for all people.