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The Party of Reagan: Back to the Future

3 min read

One of the most overused talking points of the Republican Party is calling themselves the “party of Lincoln.”  Because too much of America has no sense of historical nuance, explaining that Lincoln would be a Democrat today is useless and I have ceased trying years ago. The switch of the Republican party to a strategy of co-opting the south was solidified following the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Republicans decided that if they coalesced around bigots and angry southern racist Democrats, they would be easily converted and could help in the construction of a Red Wall. So, let us dispense with the myth that today’s Republican Party bears any resemblance to the idealized racial equity concepts of Lincoln, in any true sense of the word or phrase, “Party of Lincoln.”

My friends, colleagues, and past students might even tell you I have been obsessed with dispelling the notion of the ‘great communicator’ having any respect for people of color.  From the day he stepped onto the killing-fields of Neshoba County, Mississippi to announce his run for President in 1979, I have never been fooled by or trusted Ronald Reagan.  The Reagan apologist who dispute this fact, point to his formal announcement, November 13, 1979, from the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Although that is true, his first physical step onto the landscape of racial politicking came in Philadelphia, Mississippi the place of one of the most infamous and notorious acts of racially motivated murder in American history.

Flanked by political strategist Lee Atwater, the builder of the “southern strategy” which became the blueprint for racial division and cultural warfare, waged on America using the Republican Party as its’ proxy, the vomitous upshot is what we currently have Donald John Trump. Atwater’s near deathbed confession to his sins was revealed by James Carter the IV.  The Republican Party slogged through the mud with George H.W. Bush, tried on its’ galoshes with Sarah Palin, and finally gave in and jumped headfirst into the mud alongside President Trump.  I am not sure what outcome people expected when the snowball started rolling down the hill from that shining city.  Homes occupied by conservatives, the religious right or whites were not spared the devastation. When racism rules your thinking, we are all subject to its’ destructive aftermath.

The genuflecting preamble, made by every Republican pol, even bled over into the Democrats when Obama quoted him [Reagan] several times. Past musings of adding Reagan’s face to Mount Rushmore sickened me, but I received an unrewarding vindication this past week. A recording of a conversation between Mr. Reagan and Mr. Nixon was made public this week. A lot has been said these past few weeks about the open racism of the current man in the White House. Trump’s racism is not new to anyone who has listened to him for more than 15 minutes, and the anti-venom is in the syringe.  In Reagan’s case, his deification should make us aware that the hidden snake waiting to strike is a lot more dangerous. If we re-elect an open racist this time the fault does not lie within our stars but within our hearts and minds.

Vote in 2020 for Change.            

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