Sen. Roy Blunt confirms: GOP is the party of Jim Crow
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. | Andrew Harnik / AP

“The country’s been well served by elections run by state and local officials who could respond to state and local problems,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., explaining his vote to block debate over the For the People Act. The legislation is designed to keep “state and local officers” from “solving state and local problems”—like minority voting.

Today, Republicans are pushing race-based state laws to keep down the Democratic vote. Time was, it was Southern white supremacist Democratic “state and local officials” who took exception to African Americans voting Republican and passed laws and amended state constitutions to deny Black people the vote.

Blunt, and most of his party, are making the same “states’ rights” arguments the old segregationist Dixie Democrats used to justify slavery before the Civil War, and Jim Crow segregation and Black disenfranchisement afterwards.

So, Sen. Blunt, here’s a history lesson: It took sweeping federal legislation to end Jim Crow laws—just as federal might won the Civil War, restored the Union, and ended slavery.

Sen. Blunt, you are proof, as if it were needed, that your party is what the Southern Democrats used to be: the white folks’ party.

Your words echo the likes of “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, Theodore Bilbo, Richard Russell, Orval Faubus, “Big Jim” Eastland, Lester Maddox, George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and Jesse Helms, Democrats all to the end—except Thurmond and Helms, who were part of the vanguard of a massive shift of Southern white Democrats to the reborn states’ rightist GOP because they were mad at the national Democrats for sending Jim Crow voting laws to the trash heap of history.

Sen. Blunt, your party was founded in the 1850s on nationalist and anti-slavery principles. Your party’s founders believed that Uncle Sam had the power to keep “state and local officials” from sanctioning the enslavement of Black people.

Your party, led by President Abraham Lincoln, led us to victory in the Civil War.

Your party championed the 13th Amendment, which ended the last vestiges of slavery; the 14th Amendment, which made African Americans citizens; and the 15th Amendment, which put the ballot in Black hands.

The Democrats, largely rooted in the slave-state South, were the pro-slavery party. (Northern Democrats supported slavery or were indifferent to the South’s “peculiar institution.”) Southern Democrats led Dixie out of the Union in 1860-61. Southern Democrats led an armed rebellion to establish a Southern nation founded on the twin pillars of slavery and white supremacy.

Southern Democrats erected the whole Jim Crow system, which was underpinned by violence or the threat of violence against Black Americans. The Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups functioned as the terrorists in the former Confederacy.

Sen. Blunt, it is now your party which attracts support from violent, pro-Trump, neo-fascist white supremacist groups, some of whose members stormed the Capitol in an attempted coup to keep him president.

Your party’s repudiation of its historic roots started with Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in the 1960s and ’70s. With the rise of Trump and Trumpism, your party looks more and more like the party of Jeff Davis, while the Democrats, now the party of federal civil rights activism, resembles the party of Abe Lincoln.

Sen. Blunt, it is time to call your party what it is: a neo-Confederate party. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave—and Jeff Davis must be letting out Rebel yells from the beyond.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


Berry Craig
Berry Craig

Lifelong Kentuckian Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, recording secretary for the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and a member of the state AFL-CIO Executive Board. His ninth book on the history of his state, “Kentuckians and Pearl Harbor: Stories from the Day of Infamy,” was published by the University Press of Kentucky in November 2020.