Today it would not be easy to find a place for Nelson Rockefeller in the Republican Party. Likewise, Harry Byrd, Sr., would not fit comfortably in today’s Democratic Party.
Let’s get real: regardless of their party labels, the truth is it was conservatives who worked to deny voting rights to citizens along ethnic lines in the Jim Crow era, and they‘re still trying to do it today. It was conservatives who opposed Social Security and Medicare when they were instituted. And, today whether they wear labels that say Republican, Tea Party or Libertarian, it’s conservatives who still oppose those programs. Don't forget, it’s still conservatives who scoff at protecting the environment, too.
Thinking their causes were righteous, conservatives who supported blacklisting and segregation 60 years ago felt entitled to label their opponents as communists and traitors. Labels come and go like other styles, but that wicked sense of entitlement hasn’t changed much. So opposing the Affordable Care Act, by telling lies about it, is as easy as pie.
The conservatives who call Barack Obama names warmed over from the ’50s are walking in the footsteps of Strom Thurmond, who at various times called himself a Democrat, a Dixiecrat and a Republican. Following Thurmond’s prickly example is one thing, but matching his outrageous sense of entitlement might be a reach for the most mean-spirited and vociferous of today’s conservatives.
And speaking of conservative icons, one of the funniest aspects of the label game in 2014 is that some of Ronald Reagan’s actual policies, transplanted into today’s rightwing milieu, would likely earn him the label of RINO (Republican in name only).