How Democrats Became Republicans – The Great US Party Flip

Does Anyone Know How Democrats Became Republicans?

“I heard it was a myth! Those racist Democrats who elected Barack Obama as their nominee are secretly the party that opposed freeing the slaves – the Democrats are the party of the KKK!!”  ~ Your Republican Uncle & Friends

Since today is 9/11 and everyone will no doubt be posting tributes to 9/11 I thought I’d take a different route and help to debunk a recurring political myth – another kind of disaster. A lot of my Republican friends will tell me that it was in fact Democrats who opposed freeing slaves and made up the Ku Klux Klan. This is entirely true… but the parties also completely flipped during the course of the civil rights era.

There are some great videos by right wing propaganda outlets like Prager U pushing this false narrative that the Democrats are still today the party of slave owners and the GOP are the good freedom, apple pie guys! This piece of propaganda casually skates past A LOT of very real and important turning points and figures in history: “The Solid South,” “The Dixiecrats,” The f**king Civil Rights ActLee Atwater and Barry Goldwater, to name a few.

How Democrats Became Republicans - The Solid South

If you think the Republican party of Donald Trump is the same party as the one that freed the slaves I have some bad news for you…

In 1981, prominent Republican political strategist Lee Atwater was quoted (ON TAPE) saying this:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

This is largely referred to as “The Southern strategy” which is still used to this day by the modern Republican party. The coded language about “states rights” or “cuts to social programs” are racist bat signals that are transmitted out to former confederate’s and klansmen. This strategy eventually converted what’s referred to as “The Solid South” entirely into GOP territory.

The transition is a complicated one though and requires a lot of attention to nuance and detail. Something which a large portion of modern America lacks the ability to do… so I thought I’d simplify the process and show you how the Democrats became Republicans and vice versa. Not only did I simplify it into bullet points with proofs – I also had my graphics guy make a nice little infographic to share on social media so you can educate any of your friends who are stupid enough to believe that Abraham Lincoln and Lee Atwater belong to the same Republican party. Or that Barack Obama was anointed a presidential candidate by the same party that was once run by the Ku Klux Klan.

How Democrats Became Republicans in 15 Simple Steps

To simplify the party switch for the average joe, allow me to break it down into 15 simple points.

  1. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln – A Republican leads the Union during the Civil War. The people who support equal rights and freeing the slaves are largely Republicans, while the slave owning Confederacy is made up of Democrats.
  2. The U.S. government under the Republican Party defeats the Confederacy. The Democratic Party then becomes the vehicle for the white supremacist “Redeemers” from which the Ku Klux Klan emerges. These are angry confederate Democrats who will not let go of losing the war and who are violently attacking freed blacks.
  3. By 1876, Redeemer Democrats have taken control of all the state governments in the South. From this point until the 1960s, state and local government in the South is almost entirely monopolized by the former confederate Democrats.
  4. From 1880 – 1944 The Democrats reinforced the loyalty of white voters by emphasizing the suffering of the South during the war at the hands of “Yankee invaders” which their white forefathers fought valiantly to stop.
  5. From 1890 to 1910 Democrats also act to disfranchise both blacks and poor whites. Beginning with Mississippi, southern states adopted new constitutions and other laws including various devices to restrict voter registration, disfranchising virtually all black and many poor white residents. (sound familiar?)
  6. From 1876 – 1944, the national Democratic party opposes any calls for civil rights for black folks. In Congress southern Democrats block these efforts whenever Republicans target the issue.
  7. By the 1920s, as memories of the Civil War fade, the Solid South cracks slightly. A Republican is elected U.S. Representative from Texas in 1920, serving until 1932. However, with the Democratic national landslide of 1932, the South again becomes solidly Democrat.
  8. HERE IS WHERE THE SWITCH BEGINS: In 1948, the national Democratic party adopts a civil rights plank… This is strongly opposed by conservatives within the party who are against racial integration and by moderates who feared alienating Southern voters (regarded as essential to a Democratic victory)SOME THINGS NEVER F**KING CHANGE!!
  9. In response to the Democratic party adopting a civil rights plank and supporting integration of blacks and whites – Southern Democrats formed the States’ Rights Democratic Party (AKA “Dixiecrats“), which nominated Strom Thurmond for President.
  10. From 1910 – 1970 “The Great Migration” occurs and a lot of blacks leave the south for urban areas and a lot of new people migrate into the south, softening the hatred of Republicans. As a result Republicans begin to win elections in states like Texas and Florida.
  11. Despite blacks being freed almost a century earlier, the south is still largely segregated. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy (A Democrat) pushes for a civil rights act that will completely end segregation in the U.S. – he is assassinated.
  12. Seeing the Democratic party beginning to support civil rights, former Dixiecrat Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina changes parties in 1964 becoming a Republican.
  13. HERE IS WHERE THE SWITCH SOLIDIFIES: The 1964 Republican Primary had Barry Goldwater, a staunch right wing conservative who was AGAINST the civil rights act, facing several moderate “Rockefeller Republicans“. Goldwater went on to win the primary, pushing moderate Republicans to the Democratic party. He also lost the general election by a landslide to Lyndon B. Johnson who passed the civil rights act originally proposed by Kennedy. The Democrats had officially become the party that ended segregation.
  14. In 1972 Richard Nixon, a Republican, adopts the “Southern Strategy” targeting racist white voters in the south. Lee Atwater was quoted earlier describing this strategy. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush also work with Lee Atwater and use it to win elections for the Republican party through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
  15. In 1994 after attempting to impeach Democratic president Bill Clinton for a blowjob, Newt Gingrich ushers in the “Republican Revolution.” Officially gaining a foothold in all the former confederate states in the party that was rebuilt in the image of the confederacy.

Democrats Became Republicans - Dixiecrats

This wikipedia article about “The Solid South” details the strong Democratic confederate bloc of states and it’s path to  Republican dominance quite well. Personally I see the two biggest shifts being the 1948 Democratic National Convention and of course the Civil Rights Act and 1964 Presidential election. Those two events are what pushed most of the former slave owners to the Republican party, and made it the haven for racists that it is today.

Here is an infographic that simplifies the switch even better:

How Democrats Became Republicans for Dummies




  1. Cris
    June 18, 2020

    you know whats funny? people never change…a proud republican then would never have “switched”, his pride wouldn’t let him…that goes for white supremacist democrats. your explanation forgets human nature and psychology and is very juvenile in its entirety. stop trying to rewrite history and accept your past. learn from it.

  2. Kevin
    July 24, 2020

    The final graphic has made the rounds on Twitter. I wanted to learn more so i googled the title. You wrote an excellent, concise article. It also helps explain the polarization of Congress that solidified over the past 60 years.


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