History

Bob Dole’s powerful rejection of white supremacy in 1996 shows how much the GOP has changed

The fact that the current Republican President of the United States is providing cover for the nation’s oldest and most dangerous fascist group has many worried that we’ve crossed a crucial line

This Tuesday, President Trump decided to undo any good will his previous (although forced) disavowal of the white supremacist groups that support him put forth. During a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Trump doubled down on his previous rhetoric that claimed “both sides” were equally responsible for the clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters which left a woman dead and others injured.

“I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it,” Trump said.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he added. “No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

The fact that the current Republican President of the United States is providing cover for the nation’s oldest and most dangerous fascist group has many worried that we’ve crossed a crucial line. It also has many harkening back to a time when a Republican presidential candidate didn’t disseminate apologist language when it comes to racist groups in America.

A shining example is a speech former Senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole gave during the 1996 GOP convention, where he said the Republican party represents “many streams of opinion and many points of view. But if there’s anyone who’s mistakenly attached himself to our party in the belief that we’re not open to citizens of every race and religion, then let me remind you: tonight this hall belongs to the party of Lincoln, and the exits which are clearly marked are for you to walk out of as I stand this ground without compromise.”

“The notion that we are and should be one people rather than ‘peoples’ of the United States, seems so self-evident and obvious that it’s hard for me to imagine that I must defend it,” he continued. “When I was growing up in Russell, Kansas, it was clear to me that my pride and my home were in America. Not in any faction, and not in any division. In this I was heeding, even as I do to this day, [George Washington’s] eloquent rejection of factionalism. I was honoring, even as I do unto this day, Lincoln’s words, his life, and his sacrifice.”

Watch a segment from Dole’s 1996 GOP convention speech in the video below (the relevant portion starts at 33:56):

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