History Is A B*tch
Why? Because history is what it is and resists attempts to rewrite it for political reasons.
A week or so ago, I pointed to an attempt by Ezra Klein to change the history of the Civil Rights bill of 1964 by claiming that the Democratic Senators in the South were a “third party” with which the real Democrats formed a coalition. Of course, as I pointed out, that’s pure nonsense.
Today we see an attempt to whitewash the same period in history. In an article in The Hill, J. Taylor Rushing discusses the latest attempt by the Senate majority (the Republicans talked about it when they were in the majority as well) to do away with the filibuster. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will introduce a bill to take away the minority’s power to filibuster. Of course, it takes 67 votes to change that rule, something highly unlikely to happen.
But within Rushing’s story where the history of the filibuster was being recounted, I noticed this sentence:
In the 20th century, Southern senators used it to block civil rights legislation supported by a majority of the Senate.
Here, let me fix that so it accurately reflects what happened:
In the 20th century, Southern Democratic senators used it to block civil rights legislation supported by a bi-partisan majority of the Senate.
Al Gore, Sr. Robert Byrd. Richard Russell. William Fullbright. Etc. All staunch Democrats – never anything else. All filibustered the Civil Rights act of 1964 as Democrats.
There is no chance that the Senate filibuster is going to be ended by Harkin’s bill. And there’s equally no chance that I’m going to let any attempts to whitewash this portion of history escape my attention. The conventional wisdom about which party is the friend of civil rights is a myth. And I intend to take every opportunity availed me to point to the actual history of that event, not the contrived one.