At a recent GOP function, during a discussion on the Lincoln Day Dinner, a member made a wisecrack, a joke if you will, disparaging Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, implying racism on his part.
The annual Lincoln Day Dinner is a big event for the Republican Party as Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to be elected to the office of the President of the United States of America. In fact, other than elections, it is probably the most major event for members of the party.
The wisecrack came, after the announcement that an Abraham Lincoln impersonator would be the keynote speaker at the dinner; Jefferson Davis could be the Democrats keynote speaker.
As we all know from High School History, Lincoln was the President during the American Civil War for the union side, Jefferson Davis for the breakaway Southern Confederacy. Lincoln is credited with ending slavery, while Davis is often accused of desiring to perpetuate slavery in the South.
Without going into major detail, let’s just say history hasn’t been exactly accurate for either figure, Lincoln and Davis both being victims of their time, with the latter credited by many with the “adoption” of a young Black (mulatto) child during the Civil War.
As I said, both figures are complex men with history not always as accurate as we would prefer today. I am of the opinion that neither man would fit well with today’s political climate, but fit in their own times.
Little known to many is that by birth and heritage, I am a Southern Conservative who can be proud of my heritage while admitting that the institution of slavery in our past was wrong and a blight. Unlike many of my Northern brethren, I can also point out that bigotry and slavery wasn’t a Southern only institution, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery only in the Southern States while leaving Northern States and those conquered by Union Troops untouched, slavery in those states not being abolished until some months after the end of the war and Lincoln’s assassination with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865.
Understandably, Southerners, much like other people, do not appreciate wisecracks about our heritage, especially when based upon skewed historical views. Not wanting to cause a scene, I let the comment slide then, even though it was later repeated, again in jest I assume.
Most Southerners are Conservative by nature. We were Conservative Democrats at one time and left that party over their embracing Liberalism. Due to the late 1940’s and early 1950’s misguided move of some to form the Dixiecrat Party, today’s Democrats use that to claim Southern Conservatives fled their party to form a new anti-Civil Rights party in the Republicans.
Untrue as most of those died Democrats, while many of us younger Southerners saw the racism of the Democrats, became disillusioned with racism and became Republicans, Democrats just changing how they oppress Black Americans.
As said, we mostly are Conservatives. We accept the wrongfulness of that portion of our heritage, but do not like our heritage being misrepresented or ridiculed. We have a long and proud history in regards to serving America, even chuckling along with you at times as you label us “Rednecks and Hillbillies.”
The Republican Party is splintered at this time and under new leadership, fighting for its soul, struggling to return to its Conservative Roots, if it is to be a viable party again. Alienating that base does not bode well for the party’s future in elections.
There are a good number of Southerners and those with Southern roots now residing in Washington State, as well as every other state. Many are Conservatives and share my views. There are even Black Americans spread out across America and in Washington State that hold pride in their Southern Heritage, acknowledging slavery for what it was long ago.
We need these people to win elections and while we may chuckle at “redneck jokes” with you, ridiculing Southerners historic figures, especially when that ridicule isn’t justified, goes against our grain and encourages us to question whether the GOP is genuinely Conservative after all.
Don’t fall into the long held notion that we Southerners are either ignorant or backwards, we are not. If Jefferson Davis were alive today I sincerely doubt he would have anything to do with the current Democrat Party, nor would Abraham Lincoln.
The Civil War ended some 145 years ago. If you truly desire Southerners to stop fighting it, perhaps Northerners need to also.