Best of the RepubliKLAN Party

We often kid about the right wing extremists in the Republican Party, but upon historical exploration, it makes you think about how welcomed these fanatics have been in the party. You could even wonder how far right many party members are still today despite the end of the civil rights era.   Maybe they just don’t get it; or maybe they “hate” people like you and me.  Monitor them, then vote your conscious against them and their party.

Republican Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy was elected in Wisconsin in 1946, 1952 and served till his death in 1957, surviving several censure and near impeachment attempts.  In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy launched a series of highly publicized investigations of suspected communists in the State Department.  The country was gripped by this anti-Communist hysteria and McCarthy was able conduct hearings which dominated the Congressional spotlight.  Senator McCarthy launched a series of highly publicized investigations intended to root out Communists in the U.S. Government, Hollywood, and even the U.S. Army.   McCarthy’s aggressive attacks on alleged Communists spread fear through many sectors of American society and destroyed the careers of those he “exposed.”  Respected newsman Edward R. Murrow was able to show that McCarthy had little evidence to back up his claims that spies for the Soviet Union had infiltrated the country, and McCarthy eventually fell into disfavor.  In 1954, the Senate censured McCarthy for abusing his authority.  The controversial senator’s tactics were soon labeled McCarthyism, a term now used to refer to groundless and mean-spirited attacks.

Before the “McCarthy Era” the Republicans were tired of being a minority party.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s four victories as President and his subsequent successful administrations were putting the party out of business.  They were desperate to get their way!

Republicans use to say that Roosevelt was in league with Joseph Stalin, the allied leader of the communist Soviet Union.   Because Roosevelt was supported by unions, started the New Deal and the Works Progress Administration, they accused his of being a communist.  Some Republican extremists believed that the depression and resulting masses of poor people was more a case of “survival of the fittest.”  If they had been more “competitive” they would not have become poor.  Some took this thinking further: that if the poor were continued to be left alone by government programs would eventually die off.  Government programs only allowed them to have more children and perpetuated them and their plight.  They should be allowed only to live in the inner cities to supply cheap labor pools for growing corporations.


The name, rituals, and some of the attitudes of the original Klan were adopted by a new fraternal organization incorporated in Georgia in 1915. The official name of the new society, which was organized by a former preacher, Colonel William Simmons, was Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Membership was open to native-born, white, Protestant males, 16 years of age or older; blacks, Roman Catholics, and Jews were excluded and were increasingly made targets of defamation and persecution by the Klan. Until 1920 the society exercised little influence. Then, in the period of economic dislocation and political and social unrest that followed World War I, the Klan expanded rapidly in urban areas and became active in many states, notably Colorado, Oregon, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Although the Klan everywhere fiercely preached white supremacy, it focused its attack on what it considered to be “alien outsiders.”   This meant immigrants who were not WASP.  Attacks intensified on all groups, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, which the Klan believed was threatening traditional American ways and values.  Churches were burned and Black Catholics were openly lynched.  All non-Protestants, aliens, liberals, trade unionists, Jews and striking workers were denounced as subversives.

Like its prototype, the Klan burned fiery crosses to frighten its victims.  Masked Klansmen also marched through the streets of many communities, carrying placards threatening various persons with summary punishment and warning others to leave town. Many persons were kidnaped, flogged, and mutilated by the Klan; a number were killed. Few prosecutions of Klansmen resulted, and in some communities they were abetted by local officials.  It was not uncommon to see under the sheet of a Klansman, the uniform of a law enforcement official.

Journalistic disclosures of crimes committed by the Klan and of corruption and immorality in its leadership led to a congressional investigation in 1921, and for a time the Klan changed its tactics. After 1921 it experienced a rapid growth of membership and became politically influential throughout the nation. One estimate of its membership, made in 1924, when the Klan was at the peak of its strength, was as high as 3 to 4 million, with a woman’s auxiliary of nearly a million.  In that year a resolution denouncing the Klan, introduced at the national convention of the Democratic Party, precipitated a bitter controversy and was defeated.

In 1924, in Indiana, Klan leader David C. (“DC”) Stevenson orchestrated a campaign which elected Ed Jackson to the Governorship and over fifty other Republicans to the state legislature.  For this he was made Grand Dragon.  Another 100 Klan members were elected as local officials of the Republican Party, like the Mayor of Indianapolis.  These candidates were secretly financed by the Ku Klux Klan, and then after election were threaten with being exposed if they didn’t tow the Klan line.  DC’s political machine elected legislators in 12 states (Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia), and boasted that the Ku Klux Klan had 6 million members, and was expected to be 8 million when David C. Stevenson was going to run for President in 1928.  Some of the tactics used were the bombings of Klan rallies and the planting of evidence that suggested Catholic, Black and Jewish groups did it.  This was able to sway public opinion toward the Klan.  With the control of funding, the Klan embarked on highway projects and social service programs intended to endear them to the populace.

Late in 1924, D.C. Stevenson was convicted of raping and murdering a young woman named Madge Oberholtz (who went to him to have her early education and reading program funds restored).  She rebuked his romantic intentions so he drugged her and raped her on a train ride to Chicago.  A trial was held and he was convicted of with holding medical attention from the woman for more than three days that resulted in her death.  Some of the damaging evidence came as descriptions of the genital mutilation and numerous bite marks on the woman’s body.  In his attempt to blackmail the Governor for a pardon, he released two large black metal boxes containing the names and amounts of hundreds of officials nationwide that were on the Klan’s payroll.  These records destroyed the careers of thousands of Republicans in the Midwest (including some of Dan Quayle’s relatives) and over one hundred Republican elected officials were imprisoned for bribery and forgery offenses.  An attempt to revitalize the Klan came when Imperial Wizard Green marched 40,000 hooded men down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. on August 8, 1925.

In the mid-1920’s, inept and exploitive leadership, internal conflict, and alleged Klan immorality and violence badly damaged the Klan’s reputation, and political opposition increased. In one year over a million members quit, by 1926 membership was down to 300,000, and by 1929 it had been reduced to just several thousand members.  During the economic depression of the 1930’s the Ku Klux Klan remained active on a small scale, particularly against trade union organizers in the South. It also threatened blacks with punishment if they tried to exercise their right to vote. In 1940 the Klan joined with the German-American Bund, an organization financed in part by the government of Nazi Germany, in holding a large rally at Camp Nordland, New Jersey.

After the entry of the United States into World War II, the Klan curtailed its activities. In 1944 it disbanded formally when it was unable to pay back taxes owed to the federal government. Revival of Klan activities after the war led to widespread public sentiment for the suppression of the organization. It suffered a setback in its national stronghold, Georgia, when that state revoked the Klan charter in 1947. With the death of its strongest postwar leader, the obstetrician Samuel Green, of Atlanta, Georgia, Klan unity broke down into numerous, independent, competing units, which often did not last long enough to be placed on the list of subversive organizations issued by the U.S. attorney general.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling, on May 17, 1954, that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, stirred the Klan into new attempts at recruitment and violence but did not bring internal unity or greatly increased membership, power, or respectability in the South. Most opponents of desegregation chose other leaders, such as the White Citizens Council, while the Klan chiefly attracted the fringe elements of society and remained more of a status than a resistance movement.

As the civil rights movement gained force in the late 1950’s and as resistance to integration began to diminish throughout the South, the Klan continued to offer hard-core opposition to civil rights programs and was believed to be involved in many incidents of racial violence, intimidation, and reprisal, particularly bombings. After the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 it experienced a marked increase in membership, reaching an estimated 40,000 in 1965.  After the Civil Rights Act passage many southern Democrats opposed to it switched to the Republican Party (encouraged by men like U.S. Senators Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms who both have admitted Klan membership). One can study this dissention by listening to the President Lyndon B. Johnson tapes in the National Archives (he as a southern son was often confronted by the Klan as a traitor).

By the mid-1970’s, the Klan had gained somewhat in respectability. Acknowledged Klan leaders ran for public office in the South, amassing sizable numbers of votes. Approximately 15 separate organizations existed, including the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the United Klans of America, and the National Klan.  A resurgence of Klan violence occurred in the late 1970’s, and in 1980 a Klan office was opened in Toronto, Canada. The total membership was estimated at about 5,000 at the end of the 1980’s.  A former grand wizard of the Klan, David Duke was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1989 and ran unsuccessfully in the state’s gubernatorial election in 1991 and 1996; as a Republican, and for U.S. Congress in 1994.

What a strange party that a President of the Screen Actors Guild, which had reportedly Communist party leanings, would be elected as its presidential nominee, when he espoused being a born-again conservative (Ronald W. Reagan).  Maybe it is not so strange……things that on the surface seem fair, mainstream and good for our future turn into Republican rhetoric and broken promises to the nation.

Also a slogan of 1925: Republican Kandidate Kal Koolidge (the endorsement by the invisible empire, the Ku Klux Klan).

We may have had James Byrd in the Democratic Party, but we didn’t run four Klan endorsed people as Presidential candidates like the Republican Party did..




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Other Famous RepubliKLANS:


David Duke of Louisiana (failed US Senate and Gubernatorial candidate of Louisiana and former Klan Wizard)


Barry M. Goldwater


Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber of the Federal Building


Newt Gingrich


Senators Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms