In the beginning, the cherished founders of the Democratic Party, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, both owned slaves with Jefferson refusing to free his slaves except for Sally Hemmings and her children on his deathbed, and Jackson paying extra for runaway slaves providing their captors whipped them.
The GOP, on the other hand, was built expressly to oppose Democratic-sponsored enslavement. Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress said 600,000 white men dying in a war to free the slaves was not enough, so they then passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, granting emancipation, equal protection and the right to vote for black men.
In the post Civil War era, an important coalition in the Democratic Party sprung up, the Ku Klux Klan, and not just in the South either, but in Ohio and Indiana, among other Northern states. Even into the 1920’s, the Klan was two million strong. So strong that they defeated attempts to pass planks in the Democratic platforms denouncing both the Klan and lynching. The GOP had, years before, already passed such planks. The Klan routinely vetted Democrats, and aspiring politicians like Bobby Byrd and Hugo Black of Alabama saw joining the Klan as a means of advancement in the Democratic Party. Hugo Black, of course, was appointed to the Supreme Court by FDR. Meanwhile, Democrats had already passed all the odious Jim Crow laws of the South into law.
FDR had his own problems with blacks. When Jesse Owens returned from the Berlin games with his gold medals, it wasn’t Adolph Hitler he was angry with---Hitler even shook Owens’ hand---it was FDR Owens was mad at for the rest of his life, because President Roosevelt didn’t even bother to send a congratulatory telegram to him, much less invite Owens to the White House. The horrific government experiments on black men in the 1930’s and 1940’s all happened on the Democrats watch.
The beloved Woodrow Wilson was a notorious racist, having signed the first executive order creating “separate but equal” facilities in the federal movement. His favorite movie was “Birth of a Nation” in which African Americans were mocked and the Klan celebrated. The poster child for racism in the 1960’s, Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Conner, was the national Committeeman for the Democratic National Committee and was an enthusiastic supporter of LBJ, who, though he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, used his position as Majority Leader of the Senate in the 1950’s to block civil rights legislation. LBJ also enthusiastically supported, along with John Connally another Democrat, the “Massive Resistance” of the South, the white Democrats attempt to stop integration. Al Gore’s father, Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was himself a notorious bigot. (So apparently was his son, who played the “Race Card” against Mike Dukakis in 1988 by attacking him over releasing the murderer Willie Horton, who then went on a renewed crime spree, raping and assaulting his way across Maryland.)
Meanwhile, Richard Nixon ordered the Justice Department to use forced busing to achieve integration in the public schools, over the objections of a Democratic aide, Patrick Moynihan, who urged a policy of “benign neglect” when it came to blacks. Of course, the worst race riots over busing were in the progressive, enlightened know-it-all-city of Boston. In addition, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. always said Chicago was the most racist city in America, run of course by a Democrat, Richard Dailey. The great Jackie Robinson campaigned for the Republican Nixon in 1960.
In 1976 and 1980, Jimmy Carter literally embraced the old Segregationist, George Wallace, a lifetime Democrat, and at a rally in Alabama in 1980, had his daughter Amy kiss the old “seggie” on the cheek. Recently, some politicians have become enamored of The Giant Pander, manifesting itself in an Orwellian destruction of the past as well as apologies for that offending past, which begs the question: if the past is flushed down the Memory Hole, then what is there to apologize for? But I digress.
As a bonus, the GOP supported universal suffrage over the objections of Democratic Senators and pushed the 19th amendment out of the Senate and to the state for ratification. At the 1940 Democratic Convention, Eleanor Roosevelt was lobbying against the inclusion of the Equal Rights Amendment into the Democrats’ platform.
Abject apologies, burnt offerings and animal sacrifices have been made to every offended group, and it goes on and on. Japanese-Americans (who were truly treated badly by FDR and another liberal, Earl Warren) over the World War II internment program are the only ones who are justly owed apologies by the national government as far as most people are concerned.
Yet it seems that if someone actually owes someone else an apology, then it is the loathsome Howard Dean, small of stature and tiny of intellect, who owes millions of oppressed blacks an apology and possibly back payments for his party atrocious behavior towards African-Americans.
The great abolitionist and Republican, Frederick Douglass, late in life was asked his advice by a young man. The old man said simply, “agitate son. Agitate, agitate, agitate.” Dean would not have liked the fiercely independent Douglass, who would have told him that Republicans did not enslave him, Democrats did. Republicans did not beat him, Democrats did. Republicans did not deny Douglass an education, Democrats did.
As far as the GOP is concerned, all they are owed is a debt of thanks. Folks, do not hold your breaths waiting for Dean to do something manly and courageous; or for anyone to say “thanks” to the Republican Party, for freeing people, both here at home and across the world, over the protests and objections and racist policies of the Democratic Party.
It will be curious though to watch Obama go through the embarrassing paroxysms of attacking all the ills of our society, especially racism, and yet never ask his own party for the apology it owes him.