Take it away Publius:
In the 1960s, both parties were in flux. The Democrats had traditionally been the racist party, while the Republicans had been far supportive of civil rights. But then both parties made a fateful choice. The Democratic Party - and its base - decided to support and fight for civil rights. It also made a lasting, long-term commitment to equality, and has actively embraced and promoted diversity for the past 40 years.
The Republican Party - institutionally, that is - went a different way. They adopted the Southern Strategy. They demagogued welfare queens. More generally, the party was institutionally hostile to laws and regulations and practices intended to correct centuries of state-sanctioned discrimination. To people like John Roberts, the world apparently began anew in 1964.
For years, the Republicans benefited from this choice. Nixon won. Reagan won. The South shifted to the GOP, giving it nearly 12 years of Congressonal control. Times were good.
But the checks are now coming due. The Democrats are beginning to see the benefits of the choices they made in the 1960s - the choices they remained firmly committed to over the years. Demographically, the country is getting less white. Individually, the most promising young African-American candidates and officials (people like Obama, Artur Davis, and Deval Patrick) are all firmly within the Democratic Party. Indeed, an entire generation of African-Americans have come of political age knowing nothing but hostility from Republicans and loyalty from Democrats.
Admittedly, Obama is an once-in-a-generation political talent. And I'm not taking anything away from him. But his rise must be seen in the larger context of the institutional commitment that the United States (and the Democratic Party specifically) made to diversity.
Some of my commenters will, rightfully, point out that the Dems civil rights roots go back even further than the 60s. But I think Publius's point holds up. LBJ was playing long ball--even if he didn't know it.
Anyway, most of the post is about Jeff Sessions, a man about whom I have nothing enlightening to say about. I don't know why, I just don't. I'm unsurprised by his past. I'm unsurprised that he's been a GOP senator for some time. Thus I'm unsurprised by his elevation. Again, as with Marion Barry yesterday, "GOP Senator Old Comments On Race Cause Controversy" doesn't scream headline. At least not for me.
This is your party of Reagan, with the Gipper's smile fallen away. This is your party of States' Rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi. In the words of Bill Parcells, You are what your record says you are. I don't what else there is to say.