Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) claimed Wednesday night that “the Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan.”
“When the left doesn’t have any other arguments, they go and just accuse everyone of being a racist. It’s an ugly, ugly part of the modern Democratic Party,” he said on “America’s Newsroom.”
“You look at the most racist, you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan,” Cruz said. “The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.”
However, historians say the KKK and its founding had nothing to do with what Cruz called the “modern Democratic Party.”
PolitiFact looked into the accusation when it came up in 2013 and called it false.
The KKK was indeed made up largely of Democrats in the South after the Civil War, as most whites in the South were Democrats, but it was not started by the party, historians told the website.
In addition, the modern Democratic and Republican parties are not what they were in the 19th century.
“The party lines of the 1860s/1870s are not the party lines of today,” Carole Emberton, an associate professor of history at the University at Buffalo, told PolitiFact. “Although the names stayed the same, the platforms of the two parties reversed each other in the mid-20th century, due in large part to white Dixiecrats’ flight out of the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”