Kevin M. Kruse @KevinMKruse Historian. Author/editor of White Flight; The New Suburban History; Spaces of the Modern City; Fog of War; One Nation Under God; Fault Lines. Feb. 21, 2019 2 min read

I can't believe you keep coming back for more.

Fine, let's go another round.

First of all, this is a nice lesson in why authors who have something to hide use the passive voice.

"Dixiecrats are defined as those who joined the Dixiecrat Party or voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Defined ... by whom? You alone.

Why? Because ... you say so?

Look, in the simplest terms, can use "Dixiecrat" in two ways:

1. Narrowly, to refer to backers of the 1948 States Rights Democratic Party

2. Broadly, to refer to all Southern Democrats

It's one or the other.

(Again, if you'd ever taken a history class, you'd know this.)

You don't get to demand a narrow definition, as solely the Dixiecrat *Party* AND then throw in *one* other moment in southern resistance to civil rights.

Why only that moment? Why not the Southern Manifesto of 1956? The CRA of 1960? Ole Miss in 1961? The post-VRA realignment?

It's an insane definition, "defined by" you alone, and yet even you don't stick to it.

In this piece you take an expansive view of it, counting southern Democrats who *opposed* the Dixiecrats and -- I can't stress this enough -- inventing one entirely.

As I've noted before, Jesse Helms started his political career as the 1950 campaign manager for Willis Smith, a segregationist Democrat, running a race that was described as a "Dixiecrat campaign."

Helms won office as a Dem himself, but switched to the GOP over civil rights.

And Trent Lott had been a top aide to segregationist Democratic Rep. William Colmer, identified by columnists Evans and Novak in that 1965 column above as a "senior Dixiecrat."

Colmer handpicked Lott as his successor, but told him to run as a Republican. 

And John Tower?

John Tower started his career as a Southern Democrat, switched to the GOP over civil rights and then ... Senator John Tower voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Let me guess -- he doesn't count because he'd *already* switched parties by this point?

As you can see -- well, not *you*, but anyone else reading this -- Helms and Lott got their start working for politicians known as Dixiecrats, while Tower literally voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to a pretend historian I read somewhere, that counts.

You can follow @KevinMKruse.


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