Jon Chait takes issue with conservatives' fantasy history of civil rights, wherein they cast themselves as heroes of the struggle:
The civil rights movement, once a controversial left-wing fringe, has grown deeply embedded into the fabric of our national story. This is a salutary development, but a problematic one for conservatives, who are the direct political descendants of (and, in the case of some of the older members of the movement, the exact same people as) the strident opponents of the civil rights movement.
Thus, "conservatism's revisionist dogma" becomes necessary to create the illusion:
... a tale in which the Republican Party is and always has been the greatest friend the civil rights cause ever had. The Republican takeover of the white South had absolutely nothing to do with civil rights, the revisionist case proclaims, except insofar as white Southerners supported Republicans because they were more pro-civil rights.
Sometimes, mockery is the optimal response--and Chait snarks at the end of his piece that "The pseudo-historical attempt to attach conservatism to the civil rights movement is just silly:"
Here's another idea: Why not get behind the next civil rights idea (gay marriage) now? It would save future generations of conservative apparatchiks from writing tendentious essays insisting the Republican Party was always for it.
Along similar lines, Martin Longman claims that today's GOP is the worst political party since the Civil War:
I think it's fair to say that the GOP that exists today, as expressed by both its behavior in Congress and its recent display in the presidential primaries, is worse than it has ever been. [...] We have not seen a party this dangerous in any of our lifetimes. Not in this country, anyway. The last time things got this bad was about 150 years ago. The last time things got this bad, we needed a Civil War to resolve it.