Return of the Dixiecrats

April 4, 2022

Republican Leadership 2022

The lock-step renouncement today of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson by all 11 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee shows us that Dixiecrats still are a major factor in American politics.

Back in the day, they were called “Dixiecrats” – a tribute to their roots as southern Democrats elected to represent the lingering base of southern confederate-centric white voters, still visibly angry that the North had claimed victory in the Civil War.

Whatever political party they associated with, Dixiecrats were White Segregationists, pure and simple.

The term “Dixiecrat” dates to the 1948 States’ Rights Democratic Party, when a breakaway group of Southern Democrats objected to a civil rights agenda in the Democratic platform at the party’s national convention.

Immediately following the national Democratic convention in 1948, the Dixiecrats organized and held their own convention. They garnered significant support from 13 Southern states, hell-bent on gaining control over 127 electoral votes, thus potentially throwing the election to the House where they could use their power to force the major parties to abandon any civil rights intentions.

Back then, Dixiecrats were powerful men — frequently featured in prominent media stories and widely quoted.  Most of them ruthlessly used their offices and esteemed titles to spread racial fear and thwart the aspirations of black Americans.

Strom Thurmond, then governor of South Carolina, was the leader of the 1948 Dixiecrats. Thurmond was elected to the Senate in 1954, and he became a Republican in 1964 reflecting a metamorphosis in political party platforms across the U.S.

Today in 2022, the party affiliation of current Dixiecrats remains consistent with Strom Thurmond’s conversion almost 60 years ago. Each of them identifies and runs as a Republican.

Although they are no longer called ‘Dixiecrats’, their staunch commitment to Confederate values, particularly focused on White Supremacy, has never been stronger.

History does repeat itself, and not necessarily verbatim. One time, it may be blue, another time red, or maybe green.

The most important lesson we can learn from history centers on the theme, “Those who are unable or unwilling to study and learn from history are most likely to become victims of a new iteration of horrible outcomes orchestrated by bad actors who adapt and/or emulate bad behaviors from the past.”

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