5 Historical Omissions in Dinesh D'Souza's Film 'Hillary's America'

(Photo: Screengrab/YouTube/Dinesh D'Souza)Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza in a scene from the film "Hillary's America."

In July movie audiences were treated to the latest documentary film by conservative author and social commentator Dinesh D'Souza.

Titled "Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party," D'Souza used examples from American history to argue that the Democratic Party has been pervasively racist, corrupt, and sexist since its founding.

D'Souza's retelling of American history, sweeping as it is, omits various facts whose mention may have seriously complicated his central argument.

Below are five matters that D'Souza either ignored outright or did not properly flesh out when crafting his historical argument.

1. Republican Support for Eugenics

(Photo: Screengrab/YouTube/Dinesh D'Souza)Margaret Sanger addressing a Ku Klux Klan chapter in the movie "Hillary's America."


In "Hillary's America," D'Souza devotes much time to Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and champion of the racist ideology of eugenics.

D'Souza speaks much about how Democrats then and now hold a high opinion of Sanger. What D'Souza omits is that the eugenics theories Sanger promoted were also embraced by many Republicans.

Former President Teddy Roosevelt was one such proponent, stating in a 1913 letter that "society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind."

"Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum," continued Roosevelt.

"Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stocks, physically and morally ..."

"Hillary's America" describes the disturbing U.S. Supreme Court decision Buck v. Bell, in which Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes infamously wrote that "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Unmentioned by D'Souza or interviewee Jonah Goldberg was that Holmes was a Republican who was appointed by Republican President Roosevelt.

Minor aside: Winston Churchill, a historical figure held in high regard by modern American conservatism, was also an early proponent of eugenics.

2. Republican Corruption

National Archives & Records AdministrationPresident Nixon, with edited transcripts of Nixon White House Tape conversations during broadcast of his address to the Nation.


D'Souza portrays the Democratic Party as constantly corrupt, being comparable to the imprisoned scam artists he encountered while serving time.

While D'Souza goes in depth into claims leveled against Democratic leaders like the Clintons and discusses Democrat city bosses, he makes no mention of Republican examples of corruption.

No mention of Richard Nixon and Watergate, Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra, or Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome.

D'Souza argued that Democratic Party bosses exploited working class communities, especially immigrants and minorities, to vote for Democratic candidates.

He omits mention of how, during the latter half of the 19th century, Republican-dominated federal politics was also pervasively corrupt.

"It was … an era in which political corruption seemed to be the norm; practices that today would be viewed as scandalous were accepted as a matter of routine," noted the website Sage American History.

"Businessmen wantonly bribed public officials at the local, state and national level, and political machines turned elections into exercises in fraud and manipulation."

3. Republican Sex Scandals

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)Warren G. Harding, president of the United States of America from 1921-1923.


During the film, D'Souza repeatedly speaks of sex scandals being common practice among Democratic presidents.

He specifically cites former presidents Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton as examples. He could have added to his examples former presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

Aside from the obvious fact that both major parties have a long list of members who have engaged in sexual indiscretions, there has been at least one confirmed sexually scandalous Republican commander in chief.

Republican President Warren G. Harding had a longtime mistress and likely fathered a child out of wedlock. For these and other reasons, Politico labeled him "America's Horniest President."

Also ignored was what could be. If Donald Trump is elected president, he would be a Republican president who has had multiple failed marriages and who has boasted about his own extramarital affairs in print.

On a slightly related note, the first divorced president in United States history was none other than Republican Ronald Reagan, a man much admired by D'Souza.

(Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)Bernie Sanders supporters protest U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016.

4. Internal Divisions of the Democratic Party

Throughout the film the Democratic Party is portrayed largely as a monolithic entity, with an unbroken line of goals throughout its history.

D'Souza gives little attention to any of the divisions or competing factions within the national party. At one point he mentions Franklin Roosevelt lacking enough votes for the New Deal, leading him to curb programs designed to help African-Americans. But this matter was not further pursued.

And yet, like any major party, divisions abound within the Democratic Party. During the twentieth century, these increasingly played out between the national party and its Southern wing.

D'Souza makes no mention of FDR's fielding of primary challengers to Southern Democratic congressmen who opposed his progressive agenda.

In the 1940s, when the Congress of Industrial Organizations launched a failed attempt to unionize much of the South, their enemies tended to be members of the Democratic Party.

During the Great Depression, Southern Democrats' opposition to New Deal policies and labor unions made them allies of pro-business Northern Republicans. This alliance, called the "Conservative Coalition," received no mention in D'Souza's film.

5. Party Realignment

REUTERS / Rebecca CookVoters leave a polling station after voting in the Michigan primary election in Detroit, Michigan, January 15, 2008.


A concern some had when the film was first announced was that it would ignore what is often called "the switch." According to this historical claim, during the 1960s the debate over Civil Rights prompted Southern Democrats to become Republicans and African-Americans to go from largely Republican to largely Democrat.

D'Souza denounces the concept of "the switch", labeling it a "LIE" in big letters. He argued that the shifts in the electorate came over a long period of time and had basically nothing to do with racism.

D'Souza was correct that the political shifts were already beginning to occur during the Great Depression. This was partly because the economic opportunity promised by the New Deal led African-Americans to increasingly vote Democrat.

However, D'Souza ignored events in the 1960s that helped exacerbate this shift including the 1964 Barry Goldwater presidential campaign and the "Southern Strategy."

Republican presidential hopeful Goldwater stirred the ire of many African-American leaders, including most notably Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

While angering civil rights activists, Goldwater garnered the support of pro-segregation Southern Democrats, with him winning five Southern states. King endorsed his Democratic opponent, President Lyndon Johnson.

Four years later in 1968, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon was even more successful, winning six southern states via what became known as the "Southern Strategy."

The "Southern Strategy" involved appealing to white Southern Democrats, usually by expressing opposition to civil rights agenda items while not being overtly racist.

While not the only factor, the "Southern Strategy" contributed to the South switching from solid Democrat territory before 1964 to strong Republican territory by the 1990s.

In 2005, then Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman officially apologized to the NAACP at a meeting for his party having used the strategy during and after Nixon's campaign.

"By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out," stated Mehlman.

"Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Michael Gryboski has an MA in history from George Mason University.