ACORN’s rebranding strategy has been tried before. The Ku Klux Klan used it, according to historian Michael Zak, author of Back To Basics For The Republican Party.
Zak writes at BigGovernment.com:
ACORN does indeed operate like the Mafia, but it more closely resembles another organization that began as an affiliate of the Democratic Party, the Ku Klux Klan. Aside from intimidating some bank executives, ACORN does not engage in violence, but like the KKK it has vote fraud as a top priority.
There have been two distinct organizations known as the Ku Klux Klan. The modern-day KKK, with whom most people are familiar, was spawned in 1915 by the Hollywood epic Birth of a Nation, premiered at the White House by a Democrat president, Woodrow Wilson. Cross-burning and other rituals were actually inspired by the movie. The Klan came to dominate the Democratic Party so thoroughly that the 1924 Democratic National Convention was known as the “Klanbake.”
It is not so much this Klan 2.0 that ACORN parallels as the original version. Established in 1866, Klan 1.0 was an affiliate of the Democratic Party during the Reconstruction era. Named for “kuklos,” the Greek word for “circle,” the Ku Klux Klan waged war against the Republican Party in the former Confederate states. Goofy titles for its commanders such as Wizard and Cyclops were intended to disguise the fact that the KKK was a paramilitary organization. In some areas, leadership of the Ku Klux Klan and the Democratic Party were indistinguishable.
Democrats used the Klan to suppress their political opposition, with vote fraud and intimidation and violence. Klansmen aimed at African-Americans, nearly all Republicans in those days, and at white Republicans who tried to help them. Once threatened by the KKK, Republicans could in many cases save their lives only by publicly swearing allegiance to the Democratic Party. According to a southern governor, “Few Republicans dare sleep in their houses at night.”
“The suppression of enough GOP votes could ensure a Democratic victory,” wrote one historian. “There’s no question that Klansmen closely watched the polls” – easy to do before the secret ballot was introduced in the United States in the 1880s. All too often, Republican ballots were not even counted.
Like ACORN, the Ku Klux Klan operated with impunity until Republican politicians and journalists sounded an alarm. In 1869, Nathan Bedford Forrest, the KKK’s Grand Dragon, ordered the Klan disbanded. Why? The national organization was getting too much attention, so Klansmen would have to soldier on in state-level organizations, such as the Red Shirts in South Carolina and the Men of Justice in Alabama. Nonetheless, most members of these spin-off groups considered themselves to be Klansmen. […]