The Courage to Quit a Political Base

Democrats once tested that courage when Lyndon Johnson pushed through the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Briefly, that act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin and it was aimed at the heart of America’s former Confederate states.

At its signing, Johnson said “there goes the South for Democrats forever.” He knew the cost and paid it because it was the moral thing to do.

But he did lose the South forever for Democrats

Indeed he did, but the Democrats survived and rid themselves of the Dixiecrats, their most divisive and morally bankrupt wing of the party. “Here, Republicans” they said, “See if you can do anything with it.”

Now it is the Republican hour of decision

The Republican Party can (in my view) survive its repudiation of that portion of its base devoted to right-wing evangelists, white survivalist militias, QAnon believers and all-around crackpots.

The question is, will it?

And the moral strength of the party is in question here, with Republicans in Congress unwilling to defend morals at the risk of election defeat. That does seem a bit ego rather than morals-driven, but who am I to say? To stand up for morals is to declare war against the immoral. To do less is to get into bed with dishonor.

When in doubt, reach for a quote

When my voice is a bit shaky and lacks a significant enough reputation to be heard, I find it useful to call upon the greats. One of those to my mind is Winston Churchill and he has this to say about both war and dishonor. He is speaking at the time about Neville Chamberlain’s peace in our time agreement with Hitler:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war.”

One can but hope for a Republican rebirth

We need that rebirth. The nation needs it. Republicans, in their earlier iteration were and can again be a powerful and useful voice. But there is a price to pay and that price is governance rather than defiance, along with love of country over partisan politics.

We Democrats and the sensible majority of the Republican Party hope you will join us and repudiate the worst instincts of your southern base.

A closing word from Winston:

Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”


Image Credit: GETTY/THE ATLANTIC

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