News sources — with the exception of the Huffington Post — are reporting on the findings of this year's Pew survey indicating that "Republicans know more than Democrats" about politics, political history and current events, a trend that has held true for similar surveys in recent years. Here are some facts and a few myths about the Republican Party.
Fact: Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President, but according to the Pew survey, only 54% of Democrats knew this fact, and among all surveyed with a high school education or less, only 46% were aware that Lincoln was a Republican. President Lincoln routinely ranks on top of historical presidential ratings.
Myth: Republicans hate African Americans and are racists who have always opposed civil rights. The first African American members of the House of Representatives and the Senate were Republicans. Hiram Revels was the first African American Senator, serving from 1870 to 1876. The first non-Reconstruction African American senator, Republican Edward William Brooke, III (pictured above) represented Massachusetts in the Senate from 1967 to 1979. For more than 60 days in 1964, 18 Southern Democrat senators (and one Republican, John Tower, shame on him) filibustered the Civil Rights Act. The substitute bill that was eventually passed was a bipartisan effort co-sponsored by Republican Senators Everett Dirksen and Thomas Kuchel, and Democrats Hubert Humphrey and Mike Mansfield.
Myth: Republican "deregulation" of the financial industry caused the financial crisis. Often cited as a cause of the 2008 financial crisis, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was passed by a Republican-led Congress with bipartisan support (343-86) in November 1999 and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. The repeal was promoted by then-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
Myth: President Reagan declared ketchup to be a vegetable. A Federal budget passed by Congress in 1981 cut $1 billion from USDA funding for child nutrition and USDA bureaucrats issued new regulations intended to stop "plate waste" — i.e. kids will eat fries and ketchup, not broccoli. The resulting controversy inspired Newsweek to feature an inaccurate cover stating "ketchup — now a vegetable." President Reagan never said ketchup was a vegetable. Only a few months later, the Reagan administration directed school lunch programs to serve a choice of five different fruits or vegetables.
Myth: Republicans only care about rich people and Wall Street. If this is the case, they are doing it without being paid much, as during the 2008 presidential campaign, many more donations from banks and Wall Street investment firms went to Democrats. Seventy-five percent of hedge fund donors supported President Obama's campaign, and 90 of 100 top corporate campaign donors contributed to the DNC or Democrat campaigns. The majority of current donations to President Obama's re-election campaign are from large, not small donors, like Jon Corzine (pictured above), who gave nearly $1 million to Democrat causes through the Goldman Sachs PAC.