D’Souza: The Big Switch, Part 1

From pages 15 – 18 of Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party


The canard about the Civil Rights Movement is embedded within a larger deception that progressives uniformly put forward. This deception is intended to defuse the sordid history of the Democratic Party’s two-century involvement in a parade of evils from slavery to segregation to lynching to forced sterilization to support for fascism to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. All these horrors are the work of the Democratic Party.

Progressive Democrats seek to escape responsibility for all this with their tale of the Big Switch. Initially devised by progressives like Dan Carter and Earl and Merle Black, the Big Switch can be understood as a last-ditch attempt to rescue progressive and Democratic Party history. This progressive defense is akin to the lawyer who says, “Yes, my client shot the clerk and killed all those people, but since then he has completely reformed and now lives a blameless life. Meanwhile, his accusers have all become criminals.”

Actually, even if that were true, the man should still be held to account for what he did. He should be expected to make a confession of his crimes and make some reparation to his victims and to society. Progressives, of course, have no intention of doing any of this. Neither do Democrats. Whenever these people talk about reparations they want “America” to pay. But “America” didn’t commit these crimes; they did. They’re the ones who should be held accountable.

Back to the Big Switch: the basic idea is that starting with the Civil Rights Movement, Democrats saw the light and became the good guys, while Republicans became the bad guys. What happened to all the racist southern Democrats? Look, say the progressives, they all became Republicans! That’s why the South today is largely Republican. 13 This would seem to support the progressive story line.

The narrative of the Big Switch has one more thing going for it: blacks, who once voted overwhelmingly Republican, now vote overwhelmingly Democratic. This is a switch, and it would seem to go along with the idea that Republicans used to be friendly to black interests but now Democrats are. Why else would 90 percent of blacks today support the Democratic Party?

This book takes on the narrative of the Big Switch, and debunks it as the final—and most ingenious—installment of the progressive lie. In reality there was no switch. For the film that accompanies this book, I made a list of 1,500 racist Democrats—a list that includes members of Congress, governors, appellate and Supreme Court justices, and all the notorious figures who opposed the Civil Rights Movement. Of this group, I count exactly fourteen—less than 1 percent—who switched to the Republican Party. So the idea that racist Democrats became Republicans is a myth.

Of course many southern whites did switch from voting Democrat to voting Republican, helping the GOP become the majority party in the South, as the Democrats once were. But remember that racism declined sharply in the South during the second half of the twentieth century. There is quite literally a mountain of scholarly data that documents this. And this was the very period of GOP ascendancy. So as the South became less racist, it became more Republican.

I provide evidence in this book to show that southern whites became Republican not for racist motives but for economic ones. The most racist poor whites never left the Democratic Party; they remained loyal to the party of racism until they died. In this sense, the data show that racism slowed the movement of whites toward the Republicans.

But many southern whites were not under the racist hold of the Democrats. As they became more prosperous, these whites came to see the GOP reflect their beliefs in economic opportunity and upward mobility. They also found Republicans more in tune with their patriotism as well as their socially conservative conservative views. Quite naturally, they moved over to a party that better reflected their interests and aspirations.

Remarkably, southern whites made the journey from Democratic to Republican for the same reason that southern blacks switched parties from Republican to Democratic. In both cases, the switch occurred for economic—not racial—reasons. The black switch occurred first, in the 1930s, while the white switch occurred much later, in the 1960s and 1970s. In both cases, the timing is significant.

Blacks clearly didn’t switch for reasons of race because the Democratic Party was, in the 1930s, the undisputed home of racism. It remained so until at least the early 1960s. (I say “at least” because I believe that modern progressive Democratic ideology remains infused with racism, although this racism manifests itself in a new way.) So many blacks switched reluctantly, because they knew they were leaving the party of Lincoln for the party of segregation, lynching, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Why did they do it? They did it because the Democrats promised them economic benefits. These benefits meant a great deal to blacks then living through the hardships of segregation and the Great Depression. Democrats offered blacks some of the same security that blacks had during slavery—in which the basic needs of blacks were met on the plantation—and blacks, during a desperate time, went for it.

This was one of the most significant political transformations in American history. Long-term, it has proven to be a terrible bargain for blacks. They have remained the worst-off group in America, surpassed even by poverty-stricken immigrants who came to this country much later with nothing. The inner city remains a kind of Third World enclave in America, and whether or not blacks realize it, the Democrats intend to keep it that way.

Yet counterproductive though the black shift of political allegiance has proven over the past seventy-five years, I cannot entirely blame black Americans for making it. They were under extreme economic stress. And they were conned by the artful pitch men of the Democratic Party. These pitch men said to blacks: you have had it hard enough in the past; now you deserve to be taken care of by the federal government. And many blacks figured: after all we’ve been through, this is our due.

But if the Democrats were such racists, why did they offer to uplift blacks in this way? Here we find the true switch, which was a switch of tactics by progressive Democrats. Democrats had already tried various exploitation schemes after slavery, from segregation to lynching to white supremacy. Yet from the 1860s through the 1920s, the Democrats remained the minority party nationwide.

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