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Destroying Democratic Party Statues
August 19, 2017
by William P. Meyers

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The Confederacy was the Democratic Party

[Disclosure: after four decades of being left-of-Democrat, I recently joined the Democratic Party. I will write about my transition in other posts.]

In the coverage of the fighting between white nationalists and antifa, the tragedy at Charlottesville, and the removal of "Confederate" monuments and statues, there has been a big gap in the coverage. A blind spot. A Lacuna.

These statues of men like Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and other soldiers who fought for the Confederate States of America (CSA), are the legacy of one political party. And it is not the Republican Party. The Republican Party was the party of the Union side of our Civil War.

Take Jefferson Davis. He was not just a nominal member of the Democratic Party. Before he became the President of the CSA, he had a long career in the Democratic Party. He served as a Democrat representing Mississippi in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He was Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857. [Aside: he presided over our First War With Japan, when Commodore Perry's fleet surprise attacked and conquered the Japanese at Okinawa, and then attacked Tokyo.]

Take Robert E. Lee. He never sought political office, but he was a Democrat. Take the founder of the Democrat Party. Andrew Jackson was not just a slave owner; he actively bought and sold slaves. The states where slavery was legal were all solidly voting for the Democratic Party before the Civil War. Except for a brief period when black, former slaves could vote, the states of the former CSA would become solidly Democratic.

After the losing the Civil War, the Democratic Party rebuilt itself through the institution of Segregation and Jim Crow laws. Even during the New Deal, when the Democratic Party greatly expanded its voter base in the north and west because of the Depression, it refused to end Segregation because it needed the support of racists in the southern states.

Now the Democratic Party, following the passage of the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, has become highly dependent on black voters. People unconfortable with that long ago left the party to become Republican. So now most of the white people in the former CSA vote Republican, the party of Lincoln, and most black people vote for the party of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

That is okay, it is the nature of a Constitution that effectively means only two parties can exist in the U.S., and yet that allows for those two parties to evolve. Anyone who thinks the Republican Party today is a racist as the Democratic Party was in 1960 either were not there or refuse to look at the facts. [And of course, no part of our society is entirely free of racial and cultural prejudices.] Republican leaders speaking out against racism is not rare, and of course there are black Americans who have done well economically and do vote Republican.

One thing I always disliked about Democrats I talked to (when I was an Anarchist or Green or Independent) was their denial of their party's past. Denial of a lot of present things too. The problem with denial is that it leads to bad policy. It is a universal human problem, and fortunately many people try to face the facts of life every day.

Democratic Party leaders should be saying things like: "Jefferson Davis was a leading Democrat, and yet I renounce him and all other Democratic Party racists, past and present. The Democratic Party should do everything it can to right the wrongs of slavery, segregation, and any remaining harms from ongoing racism." How about denouncing President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his racist policies, while we are at it?

In joining the Democratic Party I have taken on the obligations and dishonor of its past. That includes, but is not limited to, the issues discussed above and its long history of War Crimes, including the use of atomic bombs on civilians, and the Vietnam War.

The way forward is clear. We (you and I, whether within the Democratic Party or not) need to save the Earth. Which means adopting one-child guidelines, as well as other pollution-control and environmental measures. We need to do much more about social justice. And we need to have economic policies that ensure reasonable prosperity for all, not just the top 20%. Prosperity, but keeping in mind the high environmenta costs of greed at every level.

Meanwhile, we cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Electing Tea Party and Trumped Up people to political ofice because the people of the center-to-left spectrum cannot unite, is just plain stupid. It is often the people shouting "the people united shall never be defeated" who are disuniting the left. Slogans and position papers, rallies and shouting are not enough. We need to actually elect people. That means going out and getting people to vote for our candidates. There is a great deal of leeway in primaries, but once the people have chosen our candidates, we should make sure our candidates win the general election.

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