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Southern Democrats became Republicans because Northern Democrats had enough with the racism

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to the floor of the Senate recently to make a bizarre speech on the history of Jim Crow laws.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
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Sen. Ted Cruz took to the floor of the Senate recently to make a bizarre speech on the history of Jim Crow laws and voter suppression.

Speaking against the For the People Act, which would expand voting rights and reduce the influence of money in politics, Cruz wove a fantasy that the law would create millions of illegal voters, who would disenfranchise legal voters by diluting the legitimate vote.

But that wasn’t bad enough for Cruz. He also tied the current Democratic Party to Jim Crow laws and Black voter suppression efforts by claiming that it was Democrats who did all these terrible things from the end of the Civil War into the 1960s.

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What Cruz left out was that the civil rights protections of the 1960s were, in fact, shepherded into law by the Democratic Party outside the South under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson. After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, Johnson rued that the Democratic Party had lost the South for a generation.

Johnson was spot on. Within a few years virtually all white Southern Democrats would switch their party affiliation to — guess who — the Republican Party of Ted Cruz. The GOP became the home of all anti-Black, anti-integration and anti-American-inclusiveness voters. They elected, with few exceptions, a solid Republican South to replace the solid Democratic South.

This change was not lost on Republican presidential contenders. Starting with Richard Nixon in 1968, they designed their campaigns to capture this new Republican base. It worked for Nixon. Same for Ronald Reagan, who opened his 1980 presidential campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi, not far from where three civil rights workers had been slain in 1964. Reagan preached “states rights,” which was code for “I’m with you, Southern racists.”

That worked well for George W. Bush in 2000, as well, but it was under Trump that fear and loathing of the other reached its zenith. Trump was blatant in his incitement of the Republican base. He inspired the deadly rioting in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the outright seditious effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

Cruz knows this. He may be brilliant, but in U.S. history he gets an F for Fabulist.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn

Tourism and bear spray

Some House Republicans are saying that the Jan. 6 seditionists were a bunch of normal tourists. When I last toured Washington many years ago, we didn’t use bear spray. Have customs changed?

Frank Palmer, Edgewater