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Chris Matthews: Lincoln 'Wouldn't Be Caught Dead' in Today's Republican Party
'The Republican party was still the party of Abraham Lincoln right into the 1960s'

Chris Matthews: Lincoln 'Wouldn't Be Caught Dead' in Today's Republican Party (RealClearPolitics)

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with that little bit of history we learned tonight, it's how the Republican party was still the party of Abraham Lincoln right into the 1960s. All but six Republican U.S. senators, 27 out of 33, voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 136 out of 171 Republican members of the House voted for passage. It was the Southern Democrats who fought civil rights. 21 Senators who voted against the '64 bill and 91 Democratic members of the House. I think we should remember this for one big reason.

The reason the Republican party shifted from being a party that shared its principles on civil rights with the Northern and Western Democrats is that it had to pursue its -- it had yet to pursue its notorious Southern strategy, before it went out and joined forces with the opponents of civil rights in the Democratic party. And that coalition is now, today, the one running the Republican party. A coalition run by old Southern Democratic thinking dressed up in a Republican uniform.

Today's Republican party is dominated by the South with little or no strength in the North. Thanks to this bit of history we learned tonight, we know what came first, the Southern strategy that led to a marriage of partisan purpose by the Republicans and Old Jim Crow attitude. The result is a party of Abraham Lincoln that Lincoln, himself, wouldn't be caught dead in. And that's Hardball for now. Thanks for being with us.

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