Looking at the History of the Republican Party with WSU’s Marc Kruman

Jake Neher/WDET

For many people the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln and Reagan. But how similar are those two former giants of the GOP? And how did the party change from its inception around the time of the Civil War?

Joining Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about the evolution of the political party founded in Jackson, Michigan, is Marc Kruman, founding director of the Center for the Study of Citizenship and professor of American history at Wayne State University.

Kruman says presumptive nominee Donald Trump has caused tension and division within the modern Republican Party. It was challenged a longstanding Republican ideal of party loyalty.

I think it’ll be very difficult to simply reestablish that-which-was,” says Kruman.

Kruman says the Republican Party today is a product of the chart coursed for the GOP in the 1960s with controversial candidates Barry Goldwater.

Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act transformed in important ways the votes of African Americans,” says Kruamn, who adds that until Goldwater came along the GOP remained competitive with African American voters. Now he says the GOP pushed a veiled message of intolerance toward non-whites. ”They’re not terribly hidden messages.”

Kruman also read from a letter written by Abraham Lincoln when asked whether he was a Know Nothing:

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor or degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ”all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes”When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].

To hear more of Kruman’s conversation on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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