The Religious Right and the Republican Revolution
Since the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980 the United States has seen a monumental shift of political power.
Prior to this the South had been a Democratic stronghold as a result of the Civil War. Even a hundred years after, it had not been forgotten that Lincoln, a Republican, had invaded and decimated the South over what is still claimed by Southerners as primarily an issue of states rights.
Following the Civil War, reconstruction policy, shaped by the victorious Republicans and enacted by unscrupulous carpetbaggers, stymied economic recovery of the south for generations. Mistrust of Republicans was widespread by the Democratic white population even as the Party of Lincoln was embraced by emancipated Republican-voting blacks.
This general separation of race and party affiliation held until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 when his New Deal provided social programs to which the black population had access. While blacks did not leave the Republican Party en masse immediately, this was the beginning of the exodus. And even though it was the Republican Eisenhower administration that formally began the civil rights movement, it was Kennedy and particularly Johnson who parlayed it into a full-fledged welfare program complete with public housing and direct monetary disbursements. Seen by many blacks as directly benefiting them, the migration to the Democratic Party accelerated greatly.
What resulted, especially in the south, was a tense mix of politics that persisted throughout the sixties and seventies, with local Democratic Parties run exclusively by white men but supported by the vast majority of the Black population. This took time to correct and today we see these parties having become well integrated with a mix of leadership all the way to the top. For this reason it is generally believed that the rise of the religious right was in response to racial pressures when in fact, it was not.
As Blacks were leaving the Republican Party and flocking to the Democrats for economic reasons there were other very important social changes taking place. Most notably the counter-culture of the sixties that embraced faux-peace, tolerance, and came to symbolize the anti-war movement. Because the Democratic Party consisted primarily of liberals, who are less resistant to change, these counter-culture individuals found a much more comfortable home with than with the more traditional, conservative, Republicans irrespective of the changing racial makeup of the party.
But not only did these hippies, as they were called, bring their faux-peace-and-love agenda to the Democratic Party, they also brought high-profile drug use, widespread promiscuity, homosexuality, and other radical notions. Even a cursory examination of the Bible, however, shows that these thoughts and ideas are highly counter to Christian doctrine. Moreover, pro-welfare policies were seen by traditionalists as 'communist' leaning, and part of the tradition of the traditionalists is to reject anything that resembled policies of our sworn enemy, the Soviet Union. Over time these new arrivals to the Democratic Party, with their free-love, drug use, and social rebellion came into conflict with the old guard who still went to church and espoused capitalism. And as they began to infiltrate the leadership of the Party, their ideas started showing up on the platform, first in the North and steadily moving Southward.
This movement progressed and by the late seventies the Democratic Party had, among other liberal changes, become aligned with homosexuality, abortion, and socialism. It was becoming difficult to be a conscientious Christian and retain a Democratic affiliation. That is when the shift occurred. As the Democrat party moved more and more to the left, the Christian constituency of the Democrat Party rebelled and began leaving in droves. So many in fact that the majority of Southern Whites are now Republicans and the majority of Southern Blacks are now Democrats. A reversal of the situation less than 100 years ago.
While this was most pronounced in the south it happened across the nation and the result was what came to be known as “The Religious Right,” a class of religiously affiliated people who were literally forced out of the Democratic Party for ideological reasons. Its peak was probably during the Clinton Administration when numerous government figures changed party affiliation in response to well-known behavior of the then Commander in Chief. The result for the country was a huge displacement of Democrats in the 1994 election with both houses of Congress coming under Republican control.
In recent years it has become convenient for socio-political figures such as Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jerry Falwell, and George II to solidify their party base (and prolong their personal income engine) by playing race cards only adding to the myth of racially-motivated separation. And since this myth favors the Democratic Party, the Democrats have been more than willing to let it persist. The media, which also leans to the left, has completed the revision of history until it has come to be ‘fact.’ And like lemmings, the majority of the American public has dutifully joined their march towards the sea and the long drop that precedes it.
NEXT: The Religious Wrong and the Republican Retreat
Futbol Guru, http://mises.org/Community/blogs/not-a-lemming