Recently a presidential preference poll leading up to the 2016 elections determined that the candidate representing the party of Lincoln only received 1% support from African-Americans. It’s not always been that way. There was a time early in black enfranchisement when blacks preferred candidates of Lincoln’s newly formed anti-slavery progressive political party. That party left blacks before blacks left that party. Now the only blacks left, 160 years since the beginnings of Lincoln’s political party are the 1%.
The newly formed political party among one of it’s goals was the end of slavery in the United States. Established in 1854, founded in the northern states, this party counted among it’s members statesmen, politicians, religious leaders and others that were considered radicals of their time.
Fast forward from Lincoln’s landmark election, arguable a Civil War catalyst , to the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution (abolished slavery), and Jim Crow Laws (legal segregation) to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, saving millions of American’s from financial ruin. Then there’s President Truman’s executive order (no. 9981, July 26, 1948) that desegregated the U.S. military, blacks moved forward again. Of course let’s not forget The Kennedy brothers, President John F. and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. They used federal troops to secure the voting rights of blacks in the southern states during the 1960’s. That was almost enough. However, do not forget President Johnson’s rapid passage and signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The political realignment of Black Americans was set in stone.
Blacks, for the most part, choose to align themselves with a party that represented their interests. After 25 years the realignment was nearly complete. But one more major event had to take place. The sales pitch to the racist, xenophobes and holdout beneficiaries of an unfair competitive capitalist society was about to begin. Arguably, whites felt they were the intended primary beneficiaries of the United States in the first place (read: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney’s decision regarding Dred Scott). A further necessary cleansing began. Surprisingly a few black “old timers” still held on to Lincoln’s party. Mostly the nostalgic would stay but the great party realignment was on. Queue Ronald Reagan.
Announcing his run for the White House the party of Lincoln now had to align themselves with southern whites that’s where the voter opportunities were. Strom Thurmond and George Wallace in the same party as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Johnson? Something had to change. Reagan’s trip to rural Mississippi to announce his run for the White House was unprecedented. The announcement was made at the county fair (Neshoba) near the city of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Until then the only significance that small had other than its ironic name was the place three voting rights works workers were killed and bodies buried in an earthen dam. Let’s not forget, the locals were thoroughly insulted when hundreds of G-Men (primarily F.B.I. agents) on orders from the White House ascended on the tiny town to search for the bodies of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodwin and James Chaney. The Hollywood actor and Californian, typically despised by southerners was welcomed. He was going to set the record straight.
Congressional and state members started the process of switching parties almost immediately. During the late 1970’s and early 80’s the mass exodus of southern whites to the new party of Lincoln was an unstoppable tide.
Never in the history of the Party of Lincoln has African-American support been so low. According to any of the polling data tracing party affiliation and presidential support of blacks as far back as we can go, we’re in historic times. The support of that party will probably get more that 1% in the presidential election primarily because the statistical anomaly is bordering on the absurd and improbable. What will happen to Lincoln’s Party? The legacy of the Radical Republics of the pre-Civil War days? The Party that built itself on fairness freedom and the creed of the new nation. Working to live up to the lofty expectations and goals of the founding documents has seemed to mean less. Being endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights sounded good on paper.