Liberalism vs Leftism
Ayn Rand and Objectivism
Political correctness on college campuses
Changes in the modern American conservative movement
Postmodernism and Leftism
Tea Party ideology
Which party is better at reducing the deficit?
Great party switch/party reversal in the United States
A very real, yet slow and gradual change, including the change of the South from Dixiecrat-Democrat to Republican-leaning.
” by simply looking at a map depicting the election of 1860 and the election of 2004, it is quite clear that the political beliefs of the different regions have changed drastically. The environment, landscape, and geography of the United States haven’t changed, so the policies of the different political parties must have; otherwise, such a drastic electoral shift is inexplicable.”
Examples of Democrats who switched to Republican party
From the same article, Zack Clary writes –
Ronald Reagan was a New Deal Democrat that campaigned for Franklin Roosevelt, as was Strom Thurmond. Reagan and Thurmond both became famous Republicans. John Connally, who was Governor of Texas and Secretary of the Treasury, became a Republican in 1973. Mills Godwin, Jr., Governor of Virginia, became a Republican by 1973, despite having previosuly served in the same post as a Democrat. I suspect he switched his party affiliation to better align with national trends when the Byrd political machine fell apart.
The second grouping are those who retained their state level Democratic Party membership but supported national Republican candidates. The same Harry Byrd as in the previous paragraph endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980. Lester Maddox, the governor of Georgia who was frightfully racist, also endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980. Kevin Kruse’s White Flight provides a great deal of insight into Lester Maddox. Governors John Malcolm Patterson of Alabama, Preston Smith of Texas, and John Bell Williams of Mississippi also endorsed Reagan.
What do the people in this paragraph have in common? They were all Southern Democrats who supported the Republican candidate on the national level in every election from 1980 onward, give or take. A good number of them began endorsing Republicans with Goldwater or Nixon. However, they remained “Democrats” because that is what they had always been.
Beginning in the 1960s, Southern Democrats started working more with the Republican Party, largely because Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan appealed to their conservatism.
Admittedly, many of these people remained Democrats because the political machinery in their states was almost entirely Democratic; however, when the party bosses in their states began dying out, they were almost universally replaced by Republicans.
North Carolina provides a good example of this. In 1973 and 1974, Sam Ervin and Jesse Helms were the two senators for the state. Ervin was a Democrat, and Helms was a Republican; however, their beliefs on many issues were practically identical. How, then, did this happen? Simple, Sam Ervin’s career in the Senate started in 1954, when North Carolina was a one-party state, whereas Helms’ career started much, much later, after Republicans made gains in the state.
State machinery reacts much more slowly than public opinion and national politics. As such, many of these old-school, Conservative, Southern Democrats remained Democrats because they always had been; however, they never got behind Truman’s push for Civil Rights; they voted against Kennedy, and they considered Lyndon Johnson, who supported civil rights, a traitor to their party and, in some cases, their race.
However, when these Southern “legends” finally retired, they were replaced by Republicans. Of course, much of the rhetoric used by these Southern Republicans was more muted than that used by James Eastland and John Stennis, as public opinion had changed. However, they were advocating for policies that were comparable, in many ways, to those of their Democratic predecessors. The last two or three chapters of Joseph Crespino’s Strom Thurmond’s America does an excellent job describing this.
As I said before, look at the maps; the people did not change, but the parties did.”
Jonathan Graifer writes “I would disagree that there is a *single* genuinely held remnant of the 1865 Republican platform in the modern Republican party. They’re now further right than the Democrats were in the run up to the Civil War or any time during Reconstruction. None of the supposed positive values they claim to hold have been evident at any point in the past 30 years.”
Zack Clary responds – “This is becoming distressingly and increasingly more true by the day. When it comes down to it, the tariffs are really the only thing of note that I can think of, and the justifications for those are completely different from what they were in 1865, so even that probably is not a direct carryover from the 1865 platform. Furthermore, that has not really been a consistent historical trend; the tariffs really became part of the Republican again very recently.”
Tom Buczkowski writes
Contrary to the claims of Mr. D’Souza and other political hacks, there was no grand, Democratic conspiracy to switch party positions to cover up racism or anything else. Politics and party affiliation is about building coalitions of likeminded people in order to win elections and gain power in government. The names Democrat and Republican are labels for parties, not ideological definers.
The basic history of how the parties evolved is neither hard nor lengthy, unless you consider delving into the facts from several reliable sources for more than an hour or two to be hard and lengthy. The underlying factors and all the ramifications of party politics in US history is a lifetime of study, but understanding of the key factors to this question is not.
The most significant shift between the Democratic and Republican parties in the last sixty years has been the exodus of white southerners from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, which began over desegregation in the 1950s and President Johnson’s and Northern Democrats support for the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
Republican strategists capitalized on this disillusionment and anger of white Democrats in the South by implementing the Southern Strategy to pull them into the Republican Party in the 1960s and 70s.
Though some revisionists are trying to say the Southern Strategy was not about race and civil rights, Republican strategist and key Reagan advisor Lee Atwater knew it was, and said so in an interview, and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman publicly apologized for the Southern Strategy in 2005.
I know, too, because I was there, a foot soldier in the developing evangelical Christian Right (more here). Not when it was formulated and first implemented in the 1960s, but when it was refined and being used in the mid-1970s and 1980s.
In the 1970s, Paul Weyrich and other Republican strategists extended their outreach to white southern voters by capitalizing on the court case between the IRS and Bob Jones University, a Christian university that lost its tax exempt status because of its segregated admissions policies. Stirring fears about Federal encroachment on segregated Christian schools and on evangelical institutions and churches in general, this movement grew into the Moral Majority headed by Reverend Jerry Falwell and the larger evangelical Christian Right that supported Ronald Reagan and swept many Republicans into Congress in the in 1980s.
Even evangelical institutions who were neither segregated nor racist became involved as they believed the fears about government infringement upon their religious liberty. Traditionally, black protestant churches and more liberal mainline protestant churches had been largely swept into the Democratic camp because of the democratic positions on desegregation and civil rights.
Republican strategists saw gaining the white evangelical churches as a way to build a coalition to counteract that influence. Many evangelicals who were neither racist nor from segregated churches, join the Christian right because of their fears about government infringement upon religious liberty, not aware the impetus for these concerns was racially discriminatory policies of Bob Jones University. Before Roe v. Wade and abortion became issues, white segregationist churches and institutions were already working politically to defend their segregationist position.
Kevin Kruse discusses this issue at length on his Twitter page.