Civil Rights Act Was Opposed By Conservatives

Bruce Bartlett has become so damn reasonable that he clearly needs to bolster his conservative bona fides somehow, and his favored path seems to be things like this post drawn from his book Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past. Bartlett’s point in the post is that most of the opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were Democrats.

This is very true. But it simply highlights the fact that politics in 1964 were not ideologically aligned. The main block of support for white supremacy was a group of Southern Democrats, most of whom were very conservative on all issues, and all of whom were very conservative on the issue of race. They were joined in their support for white supremacy by a smaller block of non-southern conservative Republicans. Conservative movement organs like The National Review supported white supremacy, as did Barry Goldwater who was the leading conservative politician of the time. It’s a very interesting historical fact about the United States of America that for most of the twentieth century conservative southerners generally belonged to the Democratic Party. But it’s also true that if you think of American politics in terms of the history of ideological struggle, civil rights is clearly an issue on which the liberals were right and over time conservatives came around to that view.