For the last fifty years, ever since the mass exodus of the black vote, Republicans have grappled with one question: How do they get the black vote back? It took Donald Trump, in his no-nonsense style, to approach black voters from the obvious angle. Donald Trump asked blacks, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Of course, he was excoriated by the mainstream media. Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s best effort at a ‘conservative’ voice, tried futilely to answer Trump’s question. All she could come up with was that Trump had overdramatized the problem in the so-called black community and that he was ignoring “legitimate complaints in the African-American community about policing.” Complaints in the black community about policing are not legitimate. Study and study proves that innocent blacks are not being gunned down by police at a greater rate than any other segment of society.
For nearly the first 100 years of the Republican Party, the vast majority of blacks were Republican. Many fault Barry Goldwater’s nomination as the party’s standard-bearer in 1964 as the reason for the exodus, but it actually started long before that. FDR got 71 percent of the black vote in 1936. That was the beginning of the welfare state as we know it. Eisenhower was able to pull some of the black vote back to the Republicans in the ‘50s, but the Civil Rights Act cemented Democrat support by black Americans.
However, it wasn’t the reality that forever changed the voting demographics, it was what the media now love to call the ‘optics.’ The image of LBJ shaking the hand of Martin Luther King, Jr. after signing the Civil Rights Act into law is indelibly etched in the minds of all Americans. The truth is something far different. LBJ fought hard against the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Then-Senator John F. Kennedy voted to table the measure instead of bringing it to a vote. The Republicans provided the majority of the 60 votes needed to pass it in 1964, but their efforts have forever been forgotten thanks to the ‘optics’ and the efforts of the mainstream media to rewrite history.
Here’s the truth. A greater percentage of Republicans in both the House and Senate voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats. Far more Democrats voted against it. After all, this was the slavery party, the party that spawned the KKK, and the party that gave us Jim Crow laws. All of the segregationists of the ‘50s and ‘60s were Democrats. Lyndon Johnson deserves much credit for pushing the legislation through, but were his efforts genuine? What’s not in dispute is that LBJ was a dyed-in-the-wool racist. He was fond of using the N-word and saw the Civil Rights Act as a way to placate blacks in America and bring them over to the Democrat Party.
Former Washington Post reporter, Ron Kessler, quotes LBJ as saying, “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” Kessler says the remark was made to two Southern governors aboard Air Force One. Many journalists dispute this account but two things are certain. Kessler is a journalist of impeccable credentials, and LBJ was a known racist.
Whatever the motivation, the damage was done. Blacks have now certainly left the party of Lincoln. Since the advent of the Great Society, the illegitimacy rate in the black community has gone from 7 percent to 73 percent. The black poverty rate has only marginally improved.
Trump’s question is a good one, and one for which Democrats have no answer.
Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.