On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, Donald Trump supporter and former Reagan administration official Jeffrey Lord shared a tense and heated exchange with CNN political analyst Van Jones for the second day in a row.
The previous day’s quarrel, sparked as the Super Tuesday election results rolled in, saw Jones criticize Trump for being slow to disavow supporters who belong to white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan (Lord insisted Trump disavowed them “many, many, many times.”)
Trump, Jones said, “is whipping up and tapping into and pushing buttons that are very, very frightening to me and frightening to a lot of people. Number one, when he is playing funny with the Klan, that is not cool.”
Lord quickly called the Klan “a leftist terrorist organization.”
Jones at first steered away from “playing that game,” but Lord persisted, saying, “It’s wrong to understand that these are not leftists…they were the military arm, the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, according to historians. For God’s sake, read your history.”
Jones countered, “I don’t care how they voted 50 years ago. I care about who they killed.”
Lord then attempted to connect the Klan’s association with southern Democrats in U.S. history to liberalism today. After Jones pointed out offensive things Trump said of minorities, Lord replied: “Van, but what you’re doing right here is dividing people. We’re all Americans here, Van. You are dividing people. This is what liberals do. You’re dividing people by race.”
“The Klan kill people by race,” Jones said.
“And they did it–they did it to further the progressive agenda. Hello?” Lord exclaimed.
An incredulous Jones called that idea “absurd.”
On Wednesday, Lord and Jones were back on CNN for more.
You know, I don’t understand why the right wing is so obsessed with trying to point out that the Ku Klux Klan, you know, 50, 60, 70 years was a part of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party in that time was a racist party and there were violent elements. That is true because, obviously, the Republicans at that time were the party of Lincoln, who ended slavery. But we’ve had a reversal over these past 50 [years]–my entire lifetime.
Lord doubled down on his Tuesday comments:
My point is that race fuels the progressive movement and has always fueled the progressive movement. Whether it was slavery, segregation, lynching, the Ku Klux Klan, to today’s racial quotas, illegal immigration by skin color. You know, groups like La Raza, the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter, et. cetera, it’s always about let’s divide people by race and then here is the progressive agenda that we want to enact.
Jones quickly asked if “you are going to say that the people who are dividing America by race were progressives, were liberals?”
“It was not progressives that were trying to keep slavery in place,” Jones insisted. “It was not progressives that were trying to keep segregation in place… There is this weird strain now on the right that tries to pretend that their hands are completely clean when it comes to race.”
After much bickering and crosstalk, Lord said, “The reason we needed those civil rights laws in the 1960s is because the Democratic Party went out of their way to undermine the civil rights laws.”
Jones drew a distinction between the southern Democrats of decades past and the Democratic Party today, echoing his previous comment on a “reversal” of ideology between the two major political parties:
There is something wrong with this particular view that because horrible racist Dixiecrats in the South did horrible racist things–and they did horrible racist things for a long time. In fact–
“For political reasons,” Lord interjected.
Let me finish. For a long time they did horrible racist things. 50, 60 years ago. I say that is horrible. But guess what, those people left the Democratic Party and they joined your party. That is the problem. No, they literally left your party–
“No. That is simply not true,” Lord countered.
For more from the author, subscribe and follow or read his books.