Saturday, October 26, 2013
Today I Learned:
"The bill divided and engendered a long-term change in the demographics of both parties. President Johnson realized that supporting this bill would risk losing the South's overwhelming support of the Democratic Party. Both Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Vice President Johnson had pushed for the introduction of the civil rights legislation. Johnson told Kennedy aide Ted Sorensen that "I know the risks are great and we might lose the South, but those sorts of states may be lost anyway." Senator Richard Russell, Jr. later warned President Johnson that his strong support for the civil rights bill "will not only cost you the South, it will cost you the election". Johnson, however, went on to win the 1964 election by one of the biggest landslides in American history. The South, which had five states swing Republican in 1964, became a stronghold of the Republican party by the 1990s. Political scientists Richard Johnston and Byron Schafer have argued that this development was based more on economics than on race.
Although majorities in both parties voted for the bill, there were notable exceptions. Though he opposed forced segregation, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona voted against the bill, remarking, "You can't legislate morality." Goldwater had supported previous attempts to pass civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 as well as the 24th Amendment outlawing the poll tax. He stated that the reason for his opposition to the 1964 bill was Title II, which in his opinion violated individual liberty and states' rights. Most Democrats from the Southern states opposed the bill and led an unsuccessful 83-day filibuster, including Senators Albert Gore, Sr. (D-TN) and J. William Fulbright (D-AR), as well as Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who personally filibustered for 14 hours straight."
-Wikipedia: Civil Rights Act of 1964
Well, I always wondered how that started... I'm sure there's more to the story, but back to work.