Thursday, October 3, 2013

Breaking the Deal

My blog feed is understandably full of discussion about how over the last 2 decades, 3 if you count Reagan, Republicans have been re-shaping the way we do politics, moving progressively towards a world where compromise and 'fair play' aren't part of the deal.  And they're right--the Republicans are breaking the deal by holding the appropriations bill and the full faith and credit of the American government hostage.

But, in a larger sense, we broke the deal first.  From the end of reconstruction to the civil rights act of 1964 the deal was that the northern progressives would make a better society, and they could count on the votes of southern racists. The New Deal passed because Roosevelt agreed to let it be better for Whites than Blacks, and up until the 1960s the Republicans really were the party of Lincoln.

The deal was that if they were allowed to be unmitigatedly racist in their own states, the elements that tore this country apart in 1861 would stay contained.  For White America, this worked beautifully, but almost exactly a century after Gettysburg, Kennedy broke the deal by calling for a civil rights act, and a year later Johnson signed it into law.

I don't know if this is what they expected would happen, but in hindsight its unsurprising.  The deal was tranquility in return for white control, and we broke that deal.  Couldn't be prouder of my party for that one.

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