I think of that today when I remember that Rick Perry was once a Democrat and switched parties in 1989. The post Civil Rights re-alignment of the South outlasted LJB's prediction.
This kind of historical analysis is important when we wonder why the GOP has become so extreme. There are probably many reasons for it - but there have been swings, as LBJ predicted, that have led us to this place. Perhaps the biggest reason is the exit from the Republican Party of the so-called "Eisenhower Republicans" in the northeast and African Americans all over the country after passage of the Civil Rights Act. That was matched by the exodus of southern whites from the Democratic Party - with folks like Perry only switching relatively recently.
Of course, the other dynamic that occurred was the development of the moral majority in the late 70's and its alignment with the Republican Party. As we've seen recently, this group of formerly disengaged fundamentalists has now morphed into the Tea Party. No one has documented that better than Frank Schaeffer.
You essentially have a party that has shed its economic conservatives in favor of racists and religious fundamentalists. The old guard of establishment Republicans are now finding themselves increasingly threatened by these rabble-rousers and are fearful of falling prey to the same fate that caught up with the former Senator from Utah, Bob Bennett.
But the long-term demographics spell trouble for a party based on these issues. We all know by now that in 30 years white people will be the minority in this country. But we also know that the extremism of fundamentalists is causing many Americans to reject Christianity.
America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found...
The rise in evangelical Christianity is contributing to the rejection of religion altogether by some Americans, said Mark Silk of Trinity College.
"In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting 'religious right' connected to a political party, and that turned a lot of people the other way," he said of the link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family.
"In an earlier time, people who would have been content to say, 'Well, I'm some kind of a Protestant,' now say 'Hell no, I won't go,'" he told CNN.
The truth is that what racism and fundamentalism have in common is that they are based on irrational fear. During these times of economic stress, people are more vulnerable to being manipulated by that kind of fear. And that's what the Republicans are counting on. With the end of the Cold War and the Obama administration's masterful handling of the threat of terrorism, the extremist Republicans are counting on a fear of each other via racism combined with cultural wars to spread division.
Our mission is not to ramp up yet more extremism, but to make sure those efforts fail.
Unity is the great need of the hour - the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.
I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.
I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.
- Barack Obama, January 2008