UPDATE: This just in … House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed late to commit to attending the Selma, Ala., rally commemorating the march that helped spark approval of the Voting Rights Act 50 years ago.
Virtually no Republican leaders will take part in ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Ala., civil rights march?
How can that be?
The Party of Abraham Lincoln needs to have representation at this event. Doesn’t it?
The march helped produce the Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat who pushed it through Congress with help from his Republican allies. Indeed, the Democratic Party — particularly in the South — was well-known to resist civil-rights legislation. LBJ was warned by his Southern Democratic friends that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act would cost the party dearly in terms of Southern support. It did.
Fifty years later, it’s now Republicans who are staying away from events to commemorate the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The GOP won’t be totally absent. An estimated 23 Republican members of the House and Senate will attend. Good for them.
Are the party leaders who should be there — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — all racists? I don’t believe that for a moment. One key GOP leader, though, really and truly needs to be there. That would be House Majority Whip Gary Scalise, who spoke to a David Duke-sponsored political event before being elected to the House; he’s since disavowed that appearance and has declared that he harbors no racial bias — but he needed to commit to this event.
The allegiances of the two major parties appear to have turned rather dramatically with regard to race relations.