Letters to the Editor

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GOP: Political parties have changed over time

Letter by W. Raney Ellis, Tacoma on Jan. 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm | 3 Comments »
January 23, 2012 1:30 pm

A recent letter writer (TNT, 1-21) made claims about Republicans and Democrats that need to be put into historical context.

The Republican Party in 1854 that proposed abolishing slavery is not the Republican Party we know now. And the Democrats who historically initiated poll taxes and reading tests to suppress black votes are not the Democrats of today.

In fact, the Republicans of today are far to the right of those in the pre-Civil War era. A major factor in this shift is that following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Democrats in the South, in large part a pretty conservative group, fled to the Republican Party, which welcomed them with open arms.

It was these Southern Democrats (the “Solid South”) who had suppressed voting by blacks up to 1964. The change of party label and subsequent moves farther to the right has done little to alter their desire to gain political advantage and power by controlling access to the ballot box by minority groups.

That approach is now finding expression in state efforts to require photo ID to vote, using the cover of preventing vote fraud, which is generally agreed by neutral analysts not to be much of a problem in this country.

Given this context, I think that the points made by Leonard Pitts Jr.  in his columns are more understandable and valid than the letter writer asserts. Watch what the parties do, not merely what they say, and remember their history.

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