Thursday, 3 July 2003

Coming Full Circle

Peter W. Davis has a guest post at Electric Venom, giving his perspective on what’s changed—and what’s still the same—in the Democratic Party over the past fifty-odd years. A brief—unedited—excerpt:

Up until the 1948 Presidential election there were two kinds of campaigns run in the Southern Democratic Primaries. One type was a candidate making a speech about how he was going to clean out the County Courthouse and bring paved roads, electricity and honest law enforcement to the rural and small town population of the day. They talked about running water and jobs and opening hospitals. These candidates seldom won. This was the Harry Truman Wing.

The other kind of candidate—of the Strom Thurmond wing—won their elections by shouting “Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!”[*] A memory of George Wallace’s first campaign for an elected office comes to mind. He tried to win the primary by talking about jobs, clean running water and paved roads. After losing the election he swore he’d never be outniggered again. He wasn’t.

I don’t know that I agree with all his conclusions, but it’s definitely worth reading.

[*] Like Peter, I’m not very comfortable with putting that word in this post. However, in this case I think it’s important—precisely because of its shock value. I don’t think you can truly understand how vile the campaigns of men like Maddox, Wallace, and Thurmond were unless you’re confronted with their rhetoric in all its unadorned ugliness.