Enjoy this guest column by Representative Paul Froehlich, who just had one of his up-and-comers in his Republican organization lured away by Speaker Madigan to run as a Democratic candidate against Republican incumbent Terry Parke, instead of as Froehlich was hoping, keep the guy as the GOP heir apparent to Parke. My partisan side is glad for the ruthless Dem move to help move the northwest suburbs into the Democratic column (which will help flip those congressional seats as well), but I feel for Froehlich. He was betrayed, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Hang in there Paul!
Contrasting the civil rights records of the two parties
by State Representative Paul Froehlich
Cook County Republicans belatedly understand something that hasn’t dawned on their counterparts in red states. The GOP cannot hope to ever win countywide elections until it figures out how to attract a large share of minority voters. The truth is that Republicans can’t win statewide elections either if they keep getting clobbered in the County of Cook.
What Republicans haven’t figured out yet is how to make the GOP more attractive to African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans who currently prefer the Democrats by huge margins. A new documentary DVD called American History in Black & White (2004) by David Barton of Wallbuilders.com reminds Republicans – and African-Americans – of what the party once stood for.
While it’s too long (at 1:45) and would be better with a black co-narrator, American History in Black & White is full of historical facts demonstrating that Republicans were once the champions of civil rights for black Americans while Democrats were fierce opponents. Here are some of the little-known events contrasting the civil rights records of the two parties:
* The Republican Party was founded in 1854 on the principle of preventing the spread of slavery, while the Democrat-controlled Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott decision (1857) declaring blacks non-persons.
* When the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery passed Congress in 1865, 100 percent of Republican Congressmen voted for it, but only 23 percent of the Democrats.
* When the 14th Amendment passed Congress to protect freedmen from state violations of their rights, 94 percent of Republicans and no Democrats voted for it. Southern Democrats created the KKK, however, which was anti-Republican as well as anti-black.
* Republicans passed the 15th Amendment to guarantee the vote for freedmen, while not a single Democrat in Congress voted for it. Southern Democrats invented methods to disenfranchise blacks: poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, black codes, white-only primaries, and so on.
* Every African-American elected to Congress between Reconstruction and 1934 was Republican.
* Republican Congressmen passed the 1871 Civil Rights Act against Klan violence and the.
1875 Civil Rights Act, while not a single Democrat voted for either. The 1875 law was the last civil rights bill to pass for 90 years due to Democrat opposition.
* Three African-Americans have presided over national Republican conventions: John R. Lynch, 1884, Edward Brook, 1968, and JC Watts in 2000. No African-American has presided over a Democrat convention.
* The U.S. Senate recently apologized for failing to enact laws against lynching until a few decades ago. Republicans and some Northern Democrats tried repeatedly to pass federal anti-lynching legislation well into the 20th century only to see it blocked year after year by Southern Democrats. That's why Herbert Hoover won 3 of 4 black votes in 1932 vs. FDR.
* Senator Dirksen (R, IL) provided the crucial votes to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act over a Democrat filibuster.
This film reminds Republicans that the GOP was once dedicated to freedom for the enslaved and civil rights for the freedmen. It reminds that justice used to be the party’s top priority, and virtually all black voters were once Republicans. The film leaves out the Nixon Southern Stragety, however, that Ken Melman recently apologized for in a speech to the NAACP.
Unfortunately, Republicans no longer talk much about justice unless it’s to advocate the death penalty. Lowering taxes is more important to many Republicans today than correcting injustice.
It is this writer’s opinion that if the GOP is to make significant inroads in winning back black and other minority voters, Republicans will have to restore the pursuit of justice as a top priority. Republicans should take the lead, for example, in reforming the criminal justice system that convicts too many innocent minorities. Republicans should also recognize the injustice in gross school funding disparities and propose ways to reduce it.