Just for fun I decided to check out the NY Times archives to see what was happening on the day I was born . The archives, called the “Times Machine” is supposed to have every newspaper ever published by the Times. Since I have a digital subscription to the NYT , I get it for free. Not sure if it is available to all.
I found the paper from my date of birth in 1950 and perused the stories. The USA had just recognized the Bao Dai government of Viet Nam while the Soviet Union was recognizing Ho Chi Minh. I guess we know how that played out.
J. Edgar Hoover, that good old cross dressing head of the FBI was asking Congress more more money for more agents to fight the 54,000 “card carrying” communists and millions of “fellow travelers”. He was received with open arms. We know how that played out.
Labor disputes in the coal industry. A strike on hold in the telephone industry. (Remember when you simply had a black phone and didn’t need a law or economics degree to figure out the contracts?). The courts ruled that the NY City transit authority would have to give back pay to workers, upon which the transit authority said they would have to raise fares.
Stuck deep in the paper, on page 18, above the half page Ballantine beer ad and next to the new Magnavox 16″ TV offer (a whopping $299.50 , a heck of a lot of money in those days when the average family income was $3,300) was an article titled:
RETREAT ON RIGHTS CHARGED TO GOP, Democratic Congress Leaders Assail 1950 Statement of Party Principles.
To summarize, the article told how the Dems had forced a civil rights agenda into their platform over the opposition of the Dixiecrats. (In a few years it would be the Southern Dems who would walk out of the Democratic party and form their own Dixiecrat Party and then subsequently join the GOP years later). This article related how the GOP, along with the southern Dems, were blocking a vote on the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). This commission had been created by Executive Order 8802 by FDR and and supported by Truman.It simply stated that there can be no discrimination in hiring in the defense industry or government based on race, color, creed or national origin. This order was expanded by Truman to include the military by Executive Order 9981.
In combination with the southern Dems the GOP in the Senate was allowing a filibuster so the law could never come up for a vote. They refused to support the north Dems in invoking cloture and shutting down the southern filibuster. Some suggested the GOP represented “liberty against socialism” although a number of northern GOPers supported civil rights and were not happy about the position of the leadership. After all, the GOP platform SUPPORTED civil rights.
What stuck me the most, however , about this article on the day I was born were the words of Minnesota Senator Hubert H. Humphrey. He stated that the Republican position was a retreat from their own party platform which supported civil rights.
The article further states:
“The Senator declared that the Republican statement used “the kind of language that the Dixiecrats would have accepted for the 1948 Democratic plank”
“This may be the FIRST STEP in the LEGAL LOVE-MAKING between Senate Republicans and southern Democrats on the civil rights issue”, he added. “They have engaged in illicit love, as indicated in voting, for about a year-and-a quarter”. (Capitals mine)
So, the attempt to make fair labor practices the permanent law of the land failed in 1950 due to the combined efforts of Dixiecrats and the GOP leadership.
Perhaps the “new” GOP of is not so “new” after all. Was this the “first step” in moving the GOP and southern Dems closer together? The basis for the “Southern Strategy” of Nixon? The beginning of the conscious attempt by the GOP to attract racists to the party rather than join in the fight against racism? Was Humphrey correct in his analysis?
To review. Two Democratic presidents use executive orders to expand rights for certain categories of Americans. The GOP fights them every step of the way and refuses to even consider legislation granting rights. Some GOPers claim it is a battle between “Liberty versus socialism”.