15th Amendment

C Span 2017 Presidential Survey: Dramatic Rise Of Dwight D. Eisenhower And Ulysses S. Grant Since First Poll In 2000

The C Span 2017 Presidential Survey demonstrates the dramatic rise of two war heroes in our two major wars: Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II, and Ulysses S. Grant in the Civil War.

Both were Republican Presidents with low historical esteem as Presidents, particularly Grant, but both suffering from long term negative images in the White House.

But Ike, as Eisenhower was affectionately known, has soared from 9 in 2000 to 8 in 2009 to 5 in 2017, surpassing Harry Truman, who dropped slightly from 5 in 2000 and 2009 to 6 in 2017.

And Grant, who was 33 in 2000, soared amazingly to 23 in 2009 and now 22 in 2017.

Ike was well liked, but thought of as a weak, lackadaisical President when he left office in 1961, more remembered at the time for playing golf than anything else.

People thought of the fact that Ike “allowed” the Soviet Union to go into space first in 1957; and that the U-2 Spy Plane Incident in 1960 complicated relations with the Soviet Union, and ignored the many accomplishments of the 34th President.

Since then, his stock has risen with the understanding of his handling of the Little Rock Crisis in 1957; his ability to work with leaders of the opposition Democrats (Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson) who controlled Congress for 6 of his 8 years; his acceptance of the New Deal programs of FDR; his creation of a federal commitment to health, education and welfare through the HEW Department in his first year; his promotion of the interstate highway system as a followup to Abraham Lincoln’s transcontinental railroad; his signing the first two Civil Rights laws since Reconstruction; the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and National Defense Education Act in reaction to Sputnik; his refusal to escalate to major involvement in Vietnam and warning his successors, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, to avoid the morass that occurred; and his path breaking Farewell Address, warning of a military industrial complex endangering American democracy and American foreign policy.

Grant was thought of historically as a great General in the Civil War, gaining the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to end the Civil War, but as President best remembered for his liquor problems, making him a certifiable alcoholic; massive scandals around his Presidency, typified by the Credit Mobilier Scandals; two Vice Presidents (Schuyler Colfax and Henry Wilson) involved in corruption; and economic hard times leading to the worst economic downturn (the Panic of 1873) until that time, with a massive depression that undermined the majority party outside the South, the Republican Party, and led to the contested Election of 1876.

But in recent years, there has been recognition of Grant promoting racial equality through backing of Congressional Reconstruction in the South and the support of the 15th Amendment and laws against the Ku Klux Klan and additional Civil Rights legislation; promotion of an Indian peace policy very different from earlier and later times; his around the world tour after his Presidency adding to his stature; his amazing Memoirs, written as he was dying of cancer, and still considered a classic work, unsurpassed by any other President; and the deep mourning and honoring of Grant in death, including the commemoration of Grant’s Tomb in New York City in 1897. No one even in 2017 is rating him in the top 20 Presidents, but his rise from very low to middle status is quite an accomplishment, although it is hard to imagine him rising any further.

The question arises whether modern Presidents, including Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon, who have fallen in recent times in the Presidential polls, will yet arise and pass Grant, and knock him down below them in the future. Historians are constantly changing their perceptions of our Chief Executives, and it will continue into the long term future.

50 Years Of The Voting Rights Act, And Reluctance To Enforce It By Supreme Court And Many States Now A Sad Reality!

On August 6, it will be 50 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, overcoming a near century of the denial of the right to vote to African Americans, despite the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870.

The Southern states denied African Americans the right to vote through all kinds of methods for three quarters of a century, but finally it was a Southern President and many Congressional Republicans joining with Democrats that caused that denial of democracy to be overcome, finally.

And Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, all Republicans, continued to endorse, promote, hail, and extend the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

But then the Supreme Court majority under Chief Justice John Roberts weakened enforcement in a Supreme Court decision in 2013 (Shelby County, Alabama V. Holder), effectively giving license to states run by Republican governors and legislatures to pass new restrictions on voting, that would not only hurt African Americans, but also Hispanics, poor whites, the elderly, college students—all being required to make onerous efforts to meet the new restrictions on voting rights, when there was no earlier evidence of voting fraud.

This sad reality has pained John Lewis, Georgia Congressman, who was involved in the movement for voting rights in Alabama (the Selma-Montgomery March), and was seriously beaten, along with others who were killed, fighting peacefully for the basic right to vote.

So while we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this path breaking legislation, we have to hope that the Supreme Court will revisit what it has done by a 5-4 vote in the next term, with the hope that they will reconsider what they have done, based on the discrimination now being practiced in many states across the nation.

The Complete Reversal Of American Politics: Republicans In The South, Democrats In Large Populated Northeastern, Midwestern And Western States!

The defeat of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu on Saturday marks the complete reversal of American politics from the years 1877 to the present.

After the Reconstruction of the South ended, with Union Army troops leaving, twelve years after the Civil War, the South became an area totally dominated by Democrats, resentful of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War defeat, and the passage of Amendments 13, 14, and 15, ending slavery, making blacks citizens, and giving the men the right to vote.

The South went into massive resistance, creating Jim Crow segregation to replace slavery, and until the election of Herbert Hoover in 1928 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, it was always a solid Democratic South with no black voting, due to discriminatory state laws that were ignored by generations of the federal government. Hoover won much of the South due to his Catholic opponent, Alfred E. Smith, in 1928, and Eisenhower won over Adlai Stevenson twice in the 1950s due to his personal popularity and World War II D Day reputation.

But only when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, starting in the 1950s, and reaching its peak with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson, did we see the beginning of a mass exodus of office holders and ordinary white population, to the Republican Party, starting with Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1964, switching parties to back Republican Senator Barry Goldwater against President Lyndon B. Johnson.

As the Democrats started to lose power in the South, the nomination of Southern governors Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and the rise of “New South” Governors like them and others in the Democratic Party, slowed up the switch to the GOP.

But the election of Barack Obama, considered anathema in the South, has now led to the entire wiping out of Southern Democrats in Congress, except for black and Jewish members of the House in districts gerrymandered that give the Republicans more total Congressional and state legislative seats in the South. Only a few other white non jewish members of the House remain, and they are endangered in the political climate of the South in 2014.

Only Virginia has both its Senators and Governor (Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe) as Democrats, and only Florida has one other Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson at this point, as we enter 2015.

And both Virginia and Florida have Republican dominated legislatures, as well as the other states that made up the Confederate States of America.

And, of course, Florida includes the heavily Northern South Florida, and Virginia has the heavily Northern North Virginia, influenced by being part of the DC suburbs, and otherwise, these three Senators and one Governor would not be in public office.

So the complete reversal of a century and a half ago has occurred, and is unlikely to be changed for a generation or more, at the least.

This means that the South will remain as it is now for a generation or more, and that the issue of race nearly a century and a half ago, again stands out as the key difference that separates that section from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the heavily populated areas of the nation in the Northeast, Midwest and West are more Democratic than ever, and are unlikely to change either over time, creating political deadlock long term over the future, stifling change and creating constant political conflict and deadlock!

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, “Selma” Film, And The Effect Of The Voting Rights Act of 1965: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama!

The new documentary, SELMA, about the March from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965, leading to “Bloody Sunday”, where state troopers and snipers fired on peaceful marchers demanding their right to vote, reminds us of a transitional stage in American history, when African Americans would regain the right to vote given to them in the 15th Amendment in 1870, and then denied in the South for about 75 years!

Alabama Governor George Wallace represented the worst of Southern racism, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a true hero then and now, had his head beaten and bloodied n the Selma March, but the horrible event led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965!

It is tragic that the Supreme Court allowed a reversion in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act two years ago, and that has led to new movements, and not only in the South, to make it harder for African Americans, Latinos, women, poor people, and college students to vote, and that could affect the Midterm elections of 2014!

But Lewis made the comment which is so TRUE: If it had not been for Voting Rights Act coming out of the Selma March, there likely would NEVER have been an open minded progressive Presidency of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

That would have been a tremendous tragedy, as no Republican President , whether Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or George W. Bush, made civil rights enforcement a key goal of their times in the Presidency!

So thank goodness for the fortune that the sacrifices of the Selma Marchers brought us the great progress  we gained under Carter, Clinton, and now Obama!

Conservative Right Wing Attack On The Constitution: The Threat Of Another Constitutional Convention Wiping Out Constitutional Amendments!

The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution, admitting in the process that there would always be room for improvements, so made clear that amendments were appropriate over time.

So we have had 27 Amendments, including the first ten that make up the Bill of Rights.

When one looks at the amendments, particularly those that came after the Bill of Rights, one realizes that the vast majority of them were “progressive” in tone, designed to expand democracy in America, or else, amendments dealing with the office of the Presidency.

So the “progressive” amendments included the 13th (ending slavery and involuntary servitude); the 14th (promoting due process and equal protection and making African Americans citizens); the 15th (guaranteeing the right to vote for African Americans and others which had been denied that right); the 16th (providing for a federal income tax to raise revenue to deal with mounting social and economic issues); the 17th (granting the people the right to elect their two United States Senators by popular vote); the 19th (guaranteeing women the right to vote); the 23rd (guaranteeing residents of Washington, DC the right to vote); the 24th (preventing a poll tax for voting); and the 26th (guaranteeing young people 18-21 the right to vote).

So nine of the seventeen amendments after the first ten of the Bill of Rights promote progressive change, while the 12th, 20th, 22nd and 25th deal with the office of the Presidency.

The only amendment that was ever passed to limit the freedom of Americans was the 18th (prohibition of liquor), but later repealed by the 21st Amendment.

Now we have the real threat by right wing conservatives, including the Tea Party Movement, who want a new Constitutional Convention to wipe out these “progressive” amendments!

They do not like voting rights for African Americans, other minorities, women, residents of Washington DC (mostly African Americans) and young people; and they are unhappy that African Americans are considered equal under the law, and if they had the ability to do so, they would love to re-enslave poor people, which by corporate power is occurring in an informal way for many minorities, as well as white lower class people struggling every day to survive!

And they wish they could restore the US Senate elections to the corrupt state legislatures, taking away the popular vote. Finally, they hate the federal income tax, even though many of them avoid substantial taxation by having investments, rather than working for a living like most of us do. So they would prefer a sales tax, which is regressive, and would hurt the middle class and the poor much more than the wealthy elite!

But that is exactly the extremist right wing intention—to restore the “good old days” when they were in charge, and everyone had to kowtow to them!

We must not allow such a threat to develop, so the battle for progressivism is never ending, as a result!

Republicans, Race, And The Confederate South: Successors To Old Southern Democrats!

The Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln; the Emancipation Proclamation; the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments; large scale support for civil rights in the 1960s; and having three progressive Southerners as President (Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton); and many New South Governors (including Jimmy Carter, Reuben Askew, Dale Bumpers, Bill Clinton), has now fully adapted itself to the old Confederate South, the old Southern segregationist Democrats, the South that wants the “good old days” of slavery and discrimination that existed before the Civil War and continued for another century until the civil rights movement transformed the South, or seemed to do so.

The fact is that the old Confederate South still exists, and the Republicans have become the successor to the old racist, Southern Democrats. Many of the members of Congress from the South and the Border States have no problem spewing racist statements, and backing racists, including, just recently: Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling, Paula Deen, George Zimmerman, Ted Nugent–all of whom identify with the Republican Party.

At the same time, the majority of the Supreme Court, appointed by Republicans, have weakened the Voting Rights Act enforcement and have now made affirmative action something that will be ended, rather than reformed; and the use of abusive language toward the first African American President has been done with absolutely no sign of any respect or deference for a person in the Presidency, who at least has the right to expect that. Some would say that every President suffers abuse, but none since Abraham Lincoln has faced as much hate and personal threats as Barack Obama.

Additionally, the Republican Party has done everything it can to limit the right to vote to African Americans and other minorities as the only way for them to keep power in the South, but also in the heartland, as well!

It is indeed sad that the GOP has become what conservatives love to condemn the old Southern Democrats for doing, but indeed have copied–a party of support of racism and inequality of treatment!

The Republicans Do NOT Understand Their Destructive Public Image!

The Republican Party clearly does not get how horrible their public image is, and that the only way they can gain control of the Senate and keep the House of Representatives is to promote fear, hatred, hysteria, and encourage ignorance among those groups which are harmed by their rhetoric and policies!

The GOP stands now for voter suppression, of African Americans, Latinos, young people, the elderly, poor people, making it harder for all these groups to be able to vote, with all kinds of methods and manipulation, reminiscent of the old Southern Democrats, but now not only in the South but nationwide. They know that they cannot win unless they prevent people from voting, and the Republican Governors have no shame as they work to undermine the 15th Amendment to the Constitution!

Also, there is no shame in Republican Governors and other Republicans in Washington, willing to work with billionaires, such as the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, to undermine American democracy by kowtowing to these wealthy, privileged oligarchs and autocrats, and working to harm women, labor, the environment, gays and lesbians, racial minorities, and poor people in their quest for absolute dominance over our government for their own selfish purposes!

One would think that the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson and others have much more in assets and fortune than anyone could ever need in a lifetime, or even give to their heirs, but their selfishness, greed, obsession with money, is so deep that they have no sense of propriety, no sense of ethics, no sense of morality, and do not even feel ashamed of their behavior!

How can Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich and other Republican Governors or former Governors, along with Senate and House Republicans, considering the idea of running for President, not be embarrassed by their open begging for financial support from these corrupt billionaires? They are ready to sell their souls for power, in such an open and outrageous manner, that one wonders how any thinking, intelligent American could possibly vote for and believe in them as a potential President of the United States!

The Republicans, by their own behavior and public image, are self destructing, and they seem unable to, or unaware of, the damage they are doing, which will be part of the story in the future of how the GOP disappeared as a legitimate alternative, representing the dinosaur of a declining white population, coupled with a younger generation becoming much more Democratic than many observers are willing to acknowledge!

Commemoration Of The Selma To Montgomery March 48 Years Ago: Bloody Sunday Cannot Be Forgotten

On March 7, 1965, a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, for voting rights for African Americans, was the location of brutal police action at the Edmund Pettus Bridge against the peaceful civil rights demonstrators.

John Lewis, now a long term Congressman from Georgia, incurred a cracked skull that day, and today, he and Al Sharpton and many other people of all races converged on the site to commemorate the horrible events of that day 48 years ago, which had the effect of galvanizing action by Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson within four months, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Joining them today was Vice President Joe Biden, giving his usual inspiring speech, and making clear that the Voting Rights Act is now, now under potential threat of having the crucial Section 5 declared unconstitutional by a conservative Republican majority chosen by Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. The Court may be ready to show they have either forgotten history, or choose to ignore the history of that day, and trust that the Southern states, which have worked to make voting more difficult in 2012 and earlier, can be trusted to avoid undermining the basic right to vote for all citizens, which is supposedly guaranteed by the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments,

This is a day to recall and to commit to prayer and statesmanship, hoping that the Supreme Court will do the right thing, and retain Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, since Congress has constantly renewed it, and ignore the call of states rights, which has been constantly tied to bigotry and discrimination!

Supreme Court Bitterly Divided Over Possible Curbing Of Voting Rights Act: A Repeat Of The Compromise Of 1877 Abandonment Of African Americans!

It is clear that the Supreme Court is bitterly divided over the Voting Rights Act, which is hanging in the balance after the oral arguments this week, with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan strongly challenging Justice Antonin Scalia, who said the act was a “racial entitlement”, which demonstrates that Scalia has no understanding of the history of the denial of voting rights, and the need to continue to monitor what those states that have discriminated are now doing.

The Republican Party abandoned African Americans on this day in 1877, when they agreed to the Compromise of 1877, making their candidate for President, Rutherford B. Hayes President, despite the clear cut lead of Democrat Samuel Tilden in popular votes. Part of the deal was for the GOP to stop being the party that had advanced civil rights through two laws during Reconstruction, the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the passage of three amendments to the Constitution.

The southern states went ahead and continued a policy of discrimination for the next ninety years on voting, and imposing Jim Crow segregation, and the GOP, the majority party until 1932, did nothing about it, due to the deal set up in the Compromise of 1877.

After ninety years, finally, voting rights, supposedly guaranteed under the 15th Amendment, but not enforced, were restored under the Voting Rights Act, but not before civil rights marchers were beaten up, such as Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, and others slaughtered in the name of promoting civil rights in the South.

But along comes Antonin Scalia, who conveniently forgets that even Jews, and also Italians such as himself, were lynched in the South in the near century in which African Americans were denied their basic rights, including voting.

And he wants the Court to become “activist”, when that is precisely what conservatives claim they hate about the Supreme Court. And so therefore, to hell with the overwhelming vote of the Congress to extend the Voting Rights act in 2006, and let’s wipe out all progress and return us to the states “deciding” if any group can vote, instead of “guaranteeing” the right to vote, the basic element of democracy!

So just as the Compromise of 1877 brought us a President who had NOT won the popular vote, and followed through on taking the GOP out of its civil rights activism, so now, two appointments of another President, George W. Bush, not elected by popular vote, and instead put in by a partisan Republican Court including Scalia, shall repeat history and deny Africans Americans the guarantee of the right to vote granted in the 15th Amendment in 1870!

A Day To Celebrate Promotion Of Human Rights: 150th Anniversary Of Emancipation Proclamation!

Today marks the most momentous day in all of American history, regarding the promotion of human rights! It is the 150th anniversary of the issuance by President Abraham Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation!

Lincoln had issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, five days after the bloody Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in the Civil War. His entire cabinet was opposed to what he did, and had doubts about the final issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation 100 days later.

But Abraham Lincoln had the guts, the courage, the conviction that ending slavery was an essential part of the advancement of American democracy, and would help promote the victory of the Union forces over the Confederacy.

Lincoln knew that the Emancipation Proclamation was only a pledge to end slavery, and that the only true way to bring it about was military victory, and the passage two years later of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, an event excellently portrayed in the movie LINCOLN, with Daniel Day-Lewis portraying the events leading to the passage of that amendment by the House of Representatives.

Slavery’s end did not mean an easy time or adjustment for African Americans or the nation, as racial violence and discrimination would be a sad part of the future, but it was a necessary step forward on the march of human rights, including later passage of the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, the 19th Amendment, the 26th Amendment, the various Civil Rights Acts (1866, 1875, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1968), and significant Supreme Court decisions on civil rights of women, minorities, labor, young people, and gays and lesbians.

The march of time has been toward the granting of greater human rights, but it all began with Lincoln’s courageous gamble, 150 years ago today, and for that, as so much else, all Americans should salute him today!

And it is inspiring to see massive lines at the National Archives in Washington, DC, as the Emancipation Proclamation is on view for a limited time to celebrate the event, but with the need to preserve a document which is in fragile condition after a century and a half of existence.

What Lincoln did in 1863 is connected to the whole long range story of American history, the expansion of human rights for all, and this is what draws foreigners to wish to come to America, the land of liberty and opportunity!