Civil Rights, Republicans Help Democrats Undermine Constitution
LBJ forgot his oath, the limitations of his authority, and that he was the representative of all Americans. His admitted advisors on the so-called civil rights bill were known Marxists Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, M.L. King, and A. Philip Randolph. Assisting the Social-Democrats was the liberal Republican party of Everett Dirksen, who forgot that the United States Constitution only guarantees equality before the law, not in opportunity, education, nor employment. Had Dirksen been a conservative, he would have provided LBJ with a fresh copy of the Constitution, pointed to the Bill of Rights, and told him sternly that the States determine citizenship and voter qualifications, not the federal agent. This Act began the quotas, set-asides and racial polarization we live with today; George Wallace was correct in his assessment many years ago that there wasn’t a dimes worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Civil Rights Act, Republicans Help Democrats Undermine Constitution
“When I sat in the Oval Office after President Kennedy died and reflected on civil rights, there was no question in my mind as to what I would do. I knew that, as President and as a man, I would use every ounce of strength I possessed to gain justice for the black American. My strength as President was then tenuous—I had no strong mandate from the people; I had not been elected to office. But I recognized that the moral force of the Presidency is often stronger than the political force.
I made my position unmistakably clear: We were not prepared to compromise in any way. I wanted absolutely no room for bargaining. One man held the key to obtaining cloture: the Minority Leaders of the Senate, Everett Dirksen. Without his cooperation, we could not enlist the support of moderate Republicans, and without Republican support we could not obtain the two-thirds vote necessary for cloture.
The liberals were organized as never before. Senator Humphrey did a good job as floor manager. The key to his approach, with my encouragement, was restraint—the restraint of nonpartisan politics, stressing the integrity of the Senate as an institution and the heritage of Lincoln’s party.
As the debate continued through March, April and May, a new and disturbing element of public opinion came into play. Governor George Wallace of Alabama had declared himself a candidate for President and had entered Democratic primaries….with an emotional campaign of opposition to civil rights…Most analysts predicted that he would receive 10 per cent of the vote; his actual totals more than tripled that prediction. The Wallace showing stiffened the Southerners’ will to keep on fighting the civil rights measure until the liberal ranks began to crumble.
In this critical hour [Republican] Senator Dirksen came through, as I hoped he would. On June 10, he took the floor of the Senate to say:
“The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing the government, in education an employment. It is here…America grows. America changes.”
(The Vantage Point, Lyndon B. Johnson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1971, pp. 157-159)