The Wrong Side of History

Rick has already touched on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hateful Monday speech, in which he likened those who oppose the government take-over of health care to those who opposed the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. Really, Senator, as if each of those things was a $1 trillion + government boondoggle with no real assurance of granting all Americans freedom or equal rights? Obviously the Democrats know that they have lost their edge in this fight, because only a desperate man would resort to that kind of an ad hominem attack in order to scare traditional hard-core Democrat groups (African-Americans and feminists) into supporting his legislation.

Commenters to Rick’s original post did a good job of setting the record straight with respect to Senator Reid’s remarks. Reid explained that those who supported the end to slavery and the establishment of women’s suffrage and civil rights were on “the right side of history,” while insinuating that those who opposed those landmark pieces of legislation, just like contemporary Republicans who oppose the proposed government take-over of health care, were on the wrong side of history. But Reid said nothing about any of the individuals who opposed the end of slavery, fought to prevent the establishment of women’s suffrage, or tried to defeat civil rights legislation in the US Congress. As our astute commenters pointed out, the reason for this is quite embarrassing — virtually all of them were Democrats.

  • Senator Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat from South Carolina, filibustered the 1957 Civil Rights Act alone for 24 hours and 8 minutes.

  • Senater Albert Gore
    , a Democrat from Tennessee, led a filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that lasted for over 75 hours. Senator Gore also attempted to defang the 1964 Civil Rights Act by introducing an amendment that would continue to provide Federal funds to school districts even if they were in defiance of Federal desegregation court orders.
  • Southern Democrats were responsible for filibusters that killed Federal anti-lynching bills in 1922 and 1935.
  • One of Harry Reid’s predecessors, Democratic Nevada Senator Francis G. Newlands, was one of the nation’s leading segregationists, pushing for a Constitutional amendment to strip the right to vote from African Americans (he believed that they were capable of nothing more than menial tasks) and using his real estate development business to create permanently segregated neighborhoods across the nation.
  • The Democrats were virtually the exclusive home to vile, racist populists from the South, such as Mississippi’s “Great White Chief” Jim Vardaman, whose opinion of African-Americans as voters and politicians is summed up succinctly in this quip: “I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the coconut-headed, chocolate-colored typical little coon who blacks my shoes every morning.”
  • Democrats also led the Congressional effort to oppose the admission of Wyoming as a state because Wyoming had already granted its women citizens the right to vote.

President Obama, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi should realize that those of us who oppose the current Democrat health care “reform” schemes oppose them precisely because we do not want to be on the wrong side of history. We do not want to have our voices counted in support of legislation that seems to be guaranteed to make health care more expensive for everyone and less available to the elderly and to those who would be forced to buy their insurance from the government.

Senator Reid is obviously embarrassed about the true history of his own party, since he has to project it onto his political opponents. Republicans and conservatives stand behind their history, and we also stand firm in the belief that we are absolutely on the right side of the current health care reform debate.

UPDATE: John Fund chimes in,

After all, it was Southern Democrats who mounted an 83-day filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. The final vote to cut off debate saw 29 Senators in opposition, 80% of them Democrats. Among those voting to block the civil rights bill was West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who personally filibustered the bill for 14 hours. The next year he also opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Mr. Byrd still sits in the Senate, and indeed preceded Mr. Reid as his party’s majority leader until he stepped down from that role in 1989.

It’s almost cliche to mention Robert Byrd in conjunction with these things, but in this case it is highly relevant. Would liberals have ever given any Republican who had done the things that Byrd had done total political carte blanche, simply because he later apologized? I think we all know the answer to that question.

James Taranto also adds,

Reid’s statement is mere scapegoating; the Republicans cannot be blocking ObamaCare for the simple reason that they lack the votes to block anything. If ObamaCare is blocked, it will be because one or more Democrats cannot go along. If the Democrats were unified, Obama would have nothing to lose by attacking Republicans–but with the votes of some Dems in doubt, it would seem imprudent of Reid to alienate Olympia Snowe by likening her party to slavery defenders.

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