GOP Rep Introduced Bill to Ban Democratic Party for Past Support of Slavery

On Thursday, Republican Texas Representative Louie Gohmert introduced a House resolution that would ban the Democratic Party and any other groups that have historically supported the Confederacy or slavery in the United States.

Gohmert introduced the bill a day after a 305-113 House vote to remove 11 statues of Confederate soldiers and slavery-defenders from the Capitol building and donate them to the Smithsonian Institution, the National Statuary Hall Collection or the southern states that donated them.

While 72 Republicans supported the statues' removal, all 113 votes against the measure came from Republican representatives, The Hill reported.

"Since people are demanding we rid ourselves of the entities, symbols, and reminders of the repugnant aspects of our past, then the time has come for Democrats to acknowledge their party's loathsome and bigoted past, and consider changing their party name to something that isn't so blatantly and offensively tied to slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination, and the Ku Klux Klan," Gohmert said in a statement.

The cosponsors of the bill include Republican Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona, Jody Hice of Georgia, Andy Harris of Maryland and Randy Weber of Texas.

Louie Gohmer confederate slavery
Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on July 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty

Gohmert is just the latest conservative to highlight the Democratic Party's historical ties to institutional racism.

On June 18, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy said the Democratic Party should change its name to leave behind its historical ties to the Confederacy and segregation laws. Conservative political commentators Dinesh D'Souza and Tomi Lahren have also mentioned this part of Democratic Party history in order to slam Democrats as hypocritical for depicting Republicans as bigoted.

It's true that early in its history, the Democratic Party supported slavery and the Confederacy and largely opposed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Democratic voters in the south also founded the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan terrorist group in 1865.

But citing the party's positions from over 60 to 160 years ago while ignoring its transformation since the Civil Rights Era is historically reductive, according to Michael Austin, a former professor and author of the book We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America's Civic Tradition.

"Today's Republicans and Democrats have very little in common with Democrats and Republicans in 1860, or even in 1936," Austin wrote in an article about the Democrats' transformation throughout U.S. history.

While Republicans largely supported abolishing slavery before, during and after the U.S. Civil War, both parties underwent a major shift during the 60s-era administration of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Although Johnson used the n-word during his lifetime, he also supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act which outlawed racial discrimination in voting, schools, employment and public accommodations. His opponent in the 1964 presidential election, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, opposed the Civil Rights Act as a federal overreach into American business.

Goldwater's position helped him win formerly Democratic southern states that felt betrayed by Republicans and Northern Democrats who voted for the bill. Johnson's support of it attracted Black voters who began aligning with the Democratic party in greater numbers after he won the 1964 election.

Though demographics continue to shift, Black voters largely continue to support the Democratic party while Southern states largely continue to vote Republican to this day.

It's an oversimplification to say that one party is more racist than the other—both have supported members and policies that harm Black communities.

But Republican President Donald Trump and his administration remain opposed the removal of confederate monuments, calling it a form of violence meant "to control our streets, rewrite our history or harm the American way of life."