The actual 175-year record on legislative achievements for civil rights in the US passed by the Republican Party versus the Democratic Party holds an excellent lesson for Taiwan.
Consider these fascinating historical facts.
To stop the Democrats' pro-slavery agenda, anti-slavery activists founded the Republican Party in 1854. The Republicans won the 1860 federal election, and by that date the governors of every northern state were Republicans, just six years after the party was established.
Despite fierce Democratic opposition, Republicans passed constitutional amendments banning slavery, extending the Bill of Rights to the states, guaranteeing equal protection of the laws and due process to all citizens, and extending the right to vote to persons of all races and backgrounds.
Republicans in Congress also enacted the nation's first-ever Civil Rights Act, which extended citizenship and equal rights to people of all races, all colors, and all creeds. In 1875 the Republicans expanded on these protections.
Struck down by the Supreme Court eight years later, this legislation would be reborn as the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Where were the Democrats during these historic changes?
Republicans led the fight for women's rights, and most suffragists were Republicans. Republican Senator Aaron Sargent wrote the women's suffrage amendment in 1878, though it would not be passed by Congress until Republicans again won control of both houses 40 years later. In 1916 the first woman was elected to the US House of Representatives, Republican Jeannette Rankin.
The Democrats were indeed the status quo party, reactionary, hostile to the principle of America as a nation of liberty and dedicated to equality. They blocked Republican efforts to protect the civil rights of all Americans, not only during post-Civil War "reconstruction," but also into the 20th century. In the South, those Democrats who most bitterly opposed equality for blacks founded the Ku Klux Klan, which operated as the Democratic Party's terrorist wing. Every single African-American in Congress until 1935 was a Republican.
California was the first state to have a Hispanic governor, Republican Romualdo Pacheco, in 1875. The first Hispanic US Senator, Octaviano Larrazolo, came to Washington from New Mexico as a Republican in 1928.
The first Jewish US Senator outside the former Confederacy was a Republican from Oregon, Joseph Simon, and the first Jewish woman to serve in the US House of Representatives was a California Republican, Florence Kahn.
The belief that the Democrats were and are the party with a social conscience, the party that most clearly expresses American values, is simply not true. This presents a potential lesson for Taiwan.
Last year, America marked the 50th anniversary of the modern civil rights movement, which began with the Supreme Court decision (Brown versus the Board of Education) written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, a three-term Republican Governor of California. Republican President Eisenhower won the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957; Republican Senator Everett Dirksen authored and introduced the 1960 Civil Rights Act.
The data is incontrovertible. The first Asian-American US Senator was a Republican, Hiram Fong from Hawaii; the first African-American Senator after Reconstruction was a Republican, Ed Brooke from Massachusetts. The list goes on and on. It is no accident that Republican President George W. Bush has proposed that this principle of human liberty is in fact a right to which all people are entitled.
The lesson this holds for Taiwan is to beware the two opposition parties -- the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP). In the US the Democrats successfully duped popular culture, with the deceptive notion that the Democrats have been the progressive party of freedom, equality and civil rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don't let the pan-blue camp dupe Taiwan, to take over the more appealing elements of the pan-green platform while conning people with the toxic ideology of cultural nationalism, in the service of a lethal "Greater China" hegemony.
The simple truth in Taiwan is that the KMT and the PFP have repeatedly demonstrated they are not loyal to Taiwan, nor do they adhere to the democratic principles on which this nation is founded. The actions of the pan-blues speak for themselves. Their wish is to see senior officials of an appointed, unrepresentative, rubber stamp Taiwanese legislative assembly, on behalf of the "Taiwan Special Administrative Region," and kneel before the imperial throne of the Chinese Communist Party.
Perhaps what Taiwan needs is something along the lines of a "Taiwan Republican Party," a party devoted unflinchingly to freedom, equality, civil rights, and national sovereignty.
Much of the above is drawn from the superb 2005 "Republican Freedom Calendar," compiled by the Republican Policy Committee.
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