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States' Rights Democratic Party

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We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program.
—Platform of the States' Rights Democratic Party

The States' Rights Democratic Party (SRDP) was a segregationist American political party founded in 1948 to protect bigotry and oppression "states' rights." Members of the party were referred to as "Dixiecrats." The party was formed by a number of Southern Democrats in response to the passage of a platform including civil rights at the 1948 Democratic National Convention and Harry Truman's desegregation of the military. They ran Strom Thurmond and Fielding Wright in that year's election and he picked up the states of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana with a total of 2.41% of the popular vote nationwide.[1] Unsurprisingly, those were the states where they had made it onto the ballot as the Democratic ticket. The party folded after the 1948 election, though the Dixiecrat moniker stuck in reference to pro-segregation Democrats. Thurmond and other Dixiecrats would go on to work within the Democratic Party to block and filibuster later civil rights legislation until many converted to the Republican Party in the 1960s thanks to the southern strategy.

In 1968 the SRDP essentially came back to life in all but name as the American Independent Party (AIP) which was also an explicitly segregationalist "states rights" party that broke off from the Democratic Party due to conflicts with liberals. This time, they were led by George Wallace instead of Strom Thurmond however, but unlike the SRDP the AIP is still (barely) alive today as a still far-right party.

Fallacy[edit]

I am a conservative. I intend to give the American people a clear choice. I welcome a fight between our philosophy and the liberal left-wing dogma which now threatens to engulf every man, woman, and child in the United States. I am in this race because I believe the American people have been pushed around long enough and that they, like you and I, are fed up with the continuing trend toward a socialist state which now subjects the individual to the dictates of an all-powerful central government.
Segregationalist leader George Wallace breaking off from a clearly very liberal wing of the Democratic Party in 1968[2]
The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln. Not bad. Not bad. It's also the party of freedom, equality and opportunity. It is the Democratic Party that is the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow and the party of opposition [part of oppression].
Donald Trump in 2016[3]
The Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan. You look at the most racist — you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.
Ted Cruz[4]

The Dixiecrat fallacy is an informal fallacy often invoked by modern Republican and conservative politicians and pundits as a way of framing "GOP good, Democrats bad". It relies on the ignorance of its audience regarding the history of the political parties in the United States.

While the message can be delivered through a number of memetic and social media methods, the formula for the Dixiecrat fallacy is fairly consistent:

  1. Bring up the subject of a major civil rights topic, such as the Fourteenth Amendment or Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. Source historical information or statistics about how said topic was supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.
  3.  ???
  4. Profit!

Problems[edit]

It makes perfect sense to think that segregationalist Democrats were liberals, so long as you ignore the vast majority of Southern Democrats at the time who were famously conservative.

It correctly asserts that Republicans started as a progressive, socially liberal party, and that the Democrats were the party of states rights and slavery during its initial years.

However, it ignores the shift in the party system that occurred between the times of the New Deal and the Southern strategy, where the Democratic Party found itself decidedly more liberal (pro-labor union, pro-equal rights) and staunchly conservative Democrats (known as Dixiecrats) switched to the Republican party.

Subjects of Republican origin[edit]

Republicans like to proudly claim ownership of the following subjects, despite the fact that current Republican views and policies often contradict those subjects:

Rightly attributed to Democrats, wrongly attributed to liberals[edit]

Additionally, callers of the fallacy will point to certain conservative subjects or historical figures and say "[X] was started by Democrats!" or "[X] was a Democrat, and they were terrible!":

Freedom Democratic Party[edit]

In the 1964 national Democratic convention, pro-civil rights Mississippi Democrats formed their own branch called the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.[6]

See also[edit]

Dixiecrats we have articles on[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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