When he signed the act he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the bulldog edition of the Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come", he said ~ Bill Moyers, on page 167 of his 2004 book, Moyers on America. Bill D. Moyers (dob 6/5/1934) is an American journalist and liberal public commentator who served as White House Press Secretary in the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967.
Conservatives hate that African Americans vote Democratic in overwhelming majorities. Obviously, in their minds, the reason for this must be that they were (and are still being) tricked and/or are lazy. Offer Black people goodies and get them hooked on those goodies. Then they'll have to keep voting Democratic... that or get jobs, work hard and provide for themselves. But, if you're thinking that sounds racist (that an entire group of people could be manipulated in this manner), well, the Cons and Libertarians are quite eager to point out that the reverse is actually true... it is actually the Democrats who are racist!
In fact, the very president who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was himself "a bigot and a racist of high order" according to Libertarian blogger Willis Hart who repeats a supposed quote from LBJ in a post on his blog...
|Willis Hart: Lyndon Baines Johnson 1963... "These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference... I'll have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years". (12/31/2013 at 8:42pm).|
Whether or not the quote is authentic is questionable, but I'll get to that later. First an excerpt from a political talk radio program in which the host, Thom Hartmann, discusses racism with Jennifer Burke of the "Tea Party News Network". Jennifer Burke, herself an African American, subscribes to the "tricked" theory to explain why a majority of African Americans vote Democratic, as well as the claim that it is actually the Democrats who are racist.
Excerpt from the discussion between Thom and Jennifer on the 10/23/2013 airing of Thom's program as follows (Thom does his set up and then introduces Jennifer 2:20 into the first hour & I pick up the conversation at the 5:17 mark)...
|Jennifer Burke: It amazes me that the Left tries to take their racist history... the KKK was formed by the Democrats...|
Thom Hartmann: Oh, the Democrats were definitely the party of racism in the early 20th century, absolutely. And they changed in the 1960s, and, as I'm sure you know, in the 1970s Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy was to reach out to Southern racists. That's why, when Ronald Reagan was nominated to be president, the first speech that he gave as a presidential candidate; his first official speech was in Philadelphia MI where those three Civil Rights workers were murdered. And he gave a speech about State's Rights, wink, wink.
JB: So, State's Rights now equals racism, so Ronald Reagan was a racist?
TH: It certainly did in 1980. In 1980 there still was an ongoing effort to roll back the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Yes.
JB: You mean the Civil Rights Act that the Democrats tried to stop from happening?
TH: No, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act that the Democrats passed overwhelmingly, Lyndon Johnson signed; and that's how the Democrats lost the South. He told Bill Moyers at the time he signed it that the Democratic Party would lose the South for a generation. Turns out it's been two generations.
[Thom next points out that, although the Democrats used to pander to the racists, now it is the Republicans who do, and that a large number of racists have gravitated to the Tea party. Thom then asks Jennifer Burke what she thinks the Tea Party should do about it].
JB: I have no idea what you're talking about. ... I've been a member of the Tea Party since it's inception, and I've not seen that. Now, what I have seen is a history in the Democrat Party of having a control factor under the guise of compassion for Black people. It was Lyndon Johnson that said, and it holds true to this day, and these are his words, during his Great Society push... "I'll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next few hundred years".
And, that is the stronghold that they have had; that guise of compassion; let us take care of you...
TH: I have no knowledge of Lyndon Johnson ever saying that.
JB: Anybody that tries to get them [the Democrats] to see beyond skin color and to see beyond a certain circumstance; that government does not have to be the answer. And, if you ask me, Democrats constantly pushing big government as the answer to everybody's problems ... "generational welfare" is racist...
TH: Well, it's not always productive, I'll grant you that. Lyndon Johnson did cut poverty in half in the United States, both in the poor Black and the poor White communities, and set the stage for an emerging Black middle class in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
JB: And how are Blacks faring under Obama now? Black employment is...
[Thom agrees with Jennifer Burke's statement about Black unemployment, but he correctly blames Reaganomics. Then, as the music indicating that the segment is nearly over has started to play, Thom says goodbye to Jennifer, plugs her writings on Teaparty.net, and thanks her for being on the program... but she has already hung up. The segment ends at 9 minutes & 45 seconds into hour 1 of the program].
That Jennifer Burke is African American does not make the suggestion that Black people vote Democratic because they've been tricked by racist White Democratic politicians not itself racist. Escaping poverty can be extremely difficult, and although welfare can sometimes be "problematic" as Thom points out, the solution isn't to get rid of it. That suggestion, that welfare actually "subsidizes" poverty is self-serving nonsense (this is an actual argument that Mr. LB has made previously).
And that Democrats do not have genuine compassion (and belief that we are our brother's keeper), but that it is only a "guise" maintained for political benefit - is also self-serving claptrap. That government has a RESPONSIBILITY to all the people (including the poor ones) is one Democrats take seriously. "Buying votes" is how Conservatives and Libertarians characterize it because they see their responsibility as being only to the class that funds their campaigns; the wealthy.
The poor, in the minds of the "fiscally Conservative" deserve no representation because they cannot afford it. What we need to do is help the rich and the poor should be satisfied with what is "trickled down" onto them.
Also, as pointed out by a caller to Thom's show later in the hour, the LBJ quote is suspect; the source being an author and journalist who currently writes for NewsMax, of all places! (a Conservative propaganda machine that has a history of lying about Democratic Presidents).
What follows is from hour 1 of the same Thom Hartmann broadcast quoted above, this time beginning at the 37:14 mark...
|Caller: ...the woman who gave a quote from LBJ; saying that the Democratic Party was going to have, quote, the "niggers voting Democratic for the next 100 years...". ... That quote can be found all over the internet on Rightwing blogs, and it can be traced back to one book by a very Rightwing author, Ronald Kessler, and it's in a book called Inside the White House. And [the quote] has never been corroborated by anyone else. He is the only person who ever alleged that LBJ said that, that I can find.|
TH: To say that trying to eliminate poverty in the United States, when the vast majority of people in poverty in the United States were [and are] White, was going to, somehow win the Democratic Party the Black vote for 200 years; that doesn't make any sense that LBJ would say such a thing... it's not how he spoke; it's not how he thought; and it certainly wasn't his motivation. But it has clearly brainwashed some young Conservatives. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Those brainwashed include some older Libertarians as well (as illustrated by the excerpt from the Hartster's blog above, as well as this comment from the blog of Ayn Rand devotee rAtional nAtion). And Wikipedia notes that Mr. Kessler is also the author of a 2004 book titled "A Matter of Character" which is "an admiring look at George W. Bush's presidency". That is reason enough to strongly suspect that the LBJ quote is not accurate.
While I can not say for sure if Mr. Kessler is the only source for this quote, LBJ's prior actions while in the Senate very much contradict the idea that LBJ was a racist who signed Civil Rights legislation because it would help Democrats trick African Americans into voting Democratic. The following book quote via an article on the Media Matters website...
|LBJ biographer Robert A. Caro: In the Summer of 1957... Lyndon Johnson, in an abrupt and total reversal of his twenty-year record on civil rights, would push a civil rights bill, primarily a voting rights bill, through the Senate [even though it had] no realistic chance of passage [LBJ,] in one of the most notable legislative feats in American history, would cajole and plead and threaten and lie, would use all of his power and all his guile, all the awe in which his colleagues held him, and all the fear, to ram the bill through the Senate.|
It was, thanks to him, a bill that the House could also pass, and that the President could sign - the first civil rights legislation to be added to the statute books of the United States since 1870. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 made only a meager advance toward social justice, and it is all but forgotten today, partly because it was dwarfed by the advances made under President Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. But it paved the way - its passage was necessary - for all that was to come. As its Leader, he made the Senate not only work, but work toward a noble end. (Excerpt from Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Master of the Senate).
So, given the quote at the top of my post by Bill Moyers and LBJ's past history of championing Civil Rights legislation, do I think the quote is authentic? No, I do not. LBJ's signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 COST the Democrats, politically. They didn't benefit from it. Yes, the signing of the legislation by Johnson does have a lot to do with why African Americans vote Democratic, but the Republicans have won a few elections since 1964 without the Black vote. Fact is, Nixon's Southern Strategy gave the Republicans a virtual lock on the South (by appealing to White racists).
I find it quite unbelievable that the LBJ who rightly and correctly worried that his actions had "just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come" would also gloat (racial epithet, or no) about how his actions had ensured that African Americans would be tricked into voting Democratic for a long time to come. For this reason my verdict is that the quote is false. And my other verdict is that people who very willingly believe that African Americans are gullible in this manner might be a wee bit racist.
Update 8/9/2015: Bob Mack likes this commentary and has placed it on his Facebook page.