GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert introduces bill to ban the Democratic Party for “supporting” Confederacy

Gohmert, who has defended Confederate statues, says Democrats' history is “filled with racism and hatred”

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published July 24, 2020 12:30PM (EDT)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) speaks during a House hearing. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) speaks during a House hearing. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., on Thursday introduced a bill aimed at banning the Democratic Party for what he described as its historic support of slavery and the Confederacy one day after he voted in favor of keeping Confederate statues at the Capitol.

Gohmert, who joined more than 100 House Republicans to unsuccessfully oppose a resolution that would remove Confederate statues from the Capitol on Wednesday, responded to the defeat by introducing a resolution to ban organizations and political groups which historically supported slavery and Confederate states.

That list includes the Democratic Party, according to Gohmert. However, he did not mention that 72 Republicans who joined every Democrat in the House to vote to remove the Confederate statues.

While Democrats were for decades the preferred party of defenders of slavery and segregation in the South, Gohmert's claims ignore the fact that the South overwhelmingly rejected the Democratic Party after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in the 1960s, switching in droves to the Republican Party. In contrast to the Democratic Party, leaders in the GOP continue to support the legacy of the Confederacy to this day.

"Instead of canceling our culture, it's time to #CancelDemocrats," Gohmert said in an op-ed he published at Breitbart, an outlet which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a platform for the "white nationalist 'alt-right.'"

"A great portion of the history of the Democratic Party is filled with racism and hatred," Gohmert said in a statement. "Since people are demanding we rid ourselves of the entities, symbols and reminders of the repugnant aspects of our past, then the time has come for Democrats to acknowledge their party's loathsome and bigoted past, and consider changing their party name to something that isn't so blatantly and offensively tied to slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination and the Ku Klux Klan."

Gohmert, who made it clear in his statement that the move was entirely intended to troll Democrats in response to the vote, also called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to remove "any item" that names Democrats or other parties which "supported slavery or the Confederacy."

"To avoid triggering innocent bystanders by the racist past of the Democratic Party, I would suggest they change their name," he said. "That is the standard to which they are holding everyone else, so the name change needs to occur."

The resolution is co-sponsored by Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Andy Harris, R-Md., Jody Hice, R-Ga., and Randy Weber, R-Tex.

Gohmert's comments came after numerous Black Democrats spoke passionately about the need to set the record straight on the racist history of the Confederacy.

"For those of us who are sons of the South, those of us who have endured hardship, discrimination and a lot of things that are very difficult to even talk about, for this moment in time where we are today, where we are going to start the process of healing and setting the record straight as it relates to the real history of this country, it is fitting and proper that those individuals who fought to keep many of our ancestors enslaved should not have to be recognized in a place where people who do good expect to be recognized," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Gohmert complained in the Breitbart op-ed that Democrats were trying to "shift blame onto Republicans" for the country's history of systemic racism and demanded the party "divest themselves of their name."

Though Gohmert has long been on the fringes of the Republican Party, his sentiment has been echoed by mainstream Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., argued last month that the Democratic Party should "change" its name to leave behind its historic ties to racist policies.

"This is a very bad argument. It fundamentally ignores the way that both political parties and history actually work," wrote Michael Austin, a professor who dug into the nation's political history in his book "We Must Not Be Enemies." "Today's Republicans and Democrats have very little in common with Democrats and Republicans in 1860, or even in 1936. It makes no sense for anyone to give credit, or blame, to any modern party for anything that happened in the Civil War . . . The fact that the names remain the same has everything to do with branding and nothing to do with any kind of coherent ideology that anybody alive can take the credit, or the blame, for having held in the past."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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