Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign had not answered by press time an inquiry as to whether the New York Senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination would support a plank in the 2008 Democratic platform apologizing for the party’s extensive past support for slavery and segregation as well as blocking the immigration of Asians.
Press reports have indicated Senator Edward Kennedy endorsed the New York senator’s opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, in part because of his anger that former President Bill Clinton had injected race into the campaign.
The two racial issues, plus the mass immigration of Chinese and other Asians to America, played key roles in both the history of the nation and the Democratic Party.
Missed in all the startled furor over what Kennedy and many discomfited liberals are seeing as the Clinton tactic of racializing the fight against Obama, an African American, is the ease with which it happened. With his wife pressed by Obama, the first serious black presidential candidate in the party’s history, without missing a beat the former president simply slid into the rhythm of the old stand-by used by Democrats for generations — the politics of race. Unexpectedly, Bill Clinton’s conduct has now turned attention to what is in fact a very long, very deep and very intimate history between Democrats and the exploitation of racial questions — and not just relationships between whites and blacks, either. For first-time young voters considering voting for Clinton, the history may surprise.
If Senator Clinton were to introduce a plank at the Denver Convention apologizing for the party’s racial history, what specific things would she have the party apologize for?
The race question has most frequently been dealt with at conventions in party platforms, beginning with the very first Democrat Convention in 1840. A review of the platforms that the party has put forward as both settled policy for the party and prospective governing policy for the nation if elected reveals the following about the party’s official views on racial issues:
* 6 platforms, from 1840 -1860, supported the slavery of African-Americans.
* 1 platform, in 1864, called the then on-going Civil War a “failure” and demanded negotiations with the Confederacy that could have led to the retaining of slavery in certain states.
* 1 platform, in 1868, stated the party’s opposition to what it termed “negro supremacy.”
* 1 platform, 1872, called for “universal amnesty” for those who fought against the Union, including slaveholders.
* 10 platforms, 1876-1900 and again in 1908, 1920 and 1924 opposed Chinese or “Asiatic” immigration, claiming Asian immigrants were “a race not sprung from the same great parent stock” and “being unaccustomed to the traditions of a progressive civilization” (1876). In 1880 the platform proclaimed Chinese immigrants as “servile races, unfitted by habits, training, religion, or kindred, for absorption into the great body of our people, or for the citizenship which our laws confer.” In 1908 an entire section entitled “Asiatic Immigrants” was written, stating “we are opposed to the admission of Asiatic immigrants who cannot be amalgamated with our population, or whose presence among us would raise a race issue.”
* 1 platform, 1900, ignored race completely even as segregation was tightening its grip under the guidance of Democratic Party officeholders throughout the South. By contrast, the 1900 GOP Convention stated: “It was the plain purpose of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, to prevent discrimination on account of race or color in regulating the elective franchise. Devices of State governments, whether by statutory or constitutional enactment, to avoid the purpose of this amendment are revolutionary, and should be condemned.”
* 1 platform, 1904, devotes a section to “Sectional and Racial Agitation,” claiming the GOP’s protests against segregation and the denial of voting rights to blacks sought to “revive the dead and hateful race and sectional animosities in any part of our common country,” which in turn “means confusion, distraction of business, and the reopening of wounds now happily healed.”
* 4 platforms, 1908-1920 are silent on blacks, segregation, lynching, and voting rights as racial problems in the country mount. By contrast the GOP platforms in each of those years specifically address “Rights of the Negro” (1908), opposes lynchings (in 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928) and, as the New Deal kicks in, speaks out about the dangers of making blacks “wards of the state.”
* 1 platform, 1924, was the product of the Democrats’ convention known to history as the “Klanbake” in Clinton’s own New York. The 103-ballot convention was held in Madison Square Garden. Hundreds of delegates were members of the Ku Kux Klan, the Klan so powerful that a plank condemning Klan violence was defeated outright. To celebrate the Klan staged a rally with 10,000 hooded Klansmen in a field in New Jersey directly across the Hudson from the site of the Convention. Attended by hundreds of cheering Convention delegates, the rally featured burning crosses and calls for violence against African Americans and Catholics.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online