The Daily Parker

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The GOP's history problem

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) gave a speech at Howard University yesterday in which he reminded the students that Republicans founded the NAACP. They already knew this, just as they already knew that the GOP before 1960 was a completely different party than the GOP after 1960. Paul seemed to ignore that nuance:

As Rand Paul acknowledged in his speech, he may not be the most obvious choice to spearhead the GOP’s outreach to African Americans. His first foray into national news came in 2010 when he criticized the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for encroaching on property rights and suggested that ending segregation should have been left to the free market. His father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), had an even more tortured history with race that included the publication of a series of inflammatory newsletters under his name, an issue that would follow him throughout his own presidential runs. But the younger Paul backed down soon after making the remarks in 2010 and ended up clarifying that he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act had he been in office at the time, despite his reservations about provisions banning discrimination by business.

What the Howard students knew, and what Paul hoped they didn't, is that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 presented to the Republican Party the opportunity to win southern Democrats to their coalition. President Johnson himself recognized that supporting civil rights would cost the Democrats the next few elections—but it was the right thing to do anyway.

So Paul either has no memory or hopes that other people don't. Republicans capitalized on southern white outrage, if not out-and-out racism, to win elections. Now they're surprised that people are holding them accountable?

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