Out of Thin Air

Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Isn’t Right.

The Politics of right and wrong becomes so ambiguous.   Each party wants you to see them as the “good guys” and the other party as the “bad guys.”  Which is which?  Republicans have been infighting with “liberal” Republicans since Theodore Roosevelt right up to Rockefeller Republicans and RiNO’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Democrats have also had their own internal party struggles.  In the Southern United States, today, we find a large stronghold of Republicans.  The South was largely made up of Democrats up until Alabama Governor, George Wallace began to fade from the spotlight and racial divides seemingly morphed into Foreign Policy, Energy, and Economic problems similar to the ones we see today.

Line in the dust.

George Wallace set in motion a conservative movement that would divide the Nation, “at age 14, George Wallace had vowed to someday become Governor. In 1958, at age 39, he made his move. But he now faced a new political force, one that would pit his compassion for the poor against his hunger for power.”  During his run for the Democratic Gubernatorial primary election against his KKK endorsed opponent, John Patterson, Wallace said, “I want to tell the good people of this state as a judge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit, if I didn’t have what it took to treat a man fair regardless of his color, then I don’t have what it takes to be the Governor of your great state.”  Unfortunately, for Wallace, the idea of running on fairness didn’t work out so well.  When the results came in, “the final runoff wasn’t even close. Patterson was swept to victory, Wallace was devastated, his lifelong dream shattered.”  The things that mattered to the average Alabamian were, “the arrest three years earlier of Rosa Parks in Montgomery for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, (that) had grown into a Negro boycott of the city’s segregated buses, and had given rise to a mass movement for civil rights, led by a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. The protest left white Alabamians feeling under siege. In his campaign, Wallace tried to find some middle ground. Though he supported segregation, his moderate position gained the endorsement of the civil rights organization, the N.A.A.C.P.”  Wallace took the defeat extremely hard and, “with his keen political antenna, understood immediately why he had lost. And I think he decided at that point that he would exploit race to the extent it took necessary that we — that he considered necessary to win.”

Four years later, Wallace did win.

Wallace’s 1963 inauguration speech included something that would follow him forever, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”  Perhaps the turning tide was attributed to the fact that, “in that time, those days, people didn’t want negroes to be upgraded.  And that’s why he hollered.  Because he knew, you know, the white people (were) against negroes and he wanted to be against negroes so he could be elected.”  Wallace also declared his intention to run against John F. Kennedy for the Democratic nomination for President just a few days before Kennedy’s assassination.  Lyndon B. Johnson would succeed JFK as the President of the United States.  Then, “in early 1965, Selma, Alabama, became the site of a civil rights campaign to enable black voters to register. On Sunday, March 7th, 600 people set out for the state capital in Montgomery, 50 miles away, hoping to gain national attention. Wallace had issued an order to prevent the march. His state troopers were waiting at the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the edge of town.” Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis, would recall, “in the beginning, I thought we’d be arrested and just taken to jail. Uh, but when I saw the troopers putting on their gas masks and raising their sticks and the bull whips. Those moments when the troopers came toward us, I knew then we would be beaten.”

Things would change.

“The violence in Selma had immediate impact. Days later, President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress for the most comprehensive voting rights bill in the nation’s history. Then, a federal court in Alabama ruled in favor of the protesters.”  After that, a lot of things happened that almost seem too strange to be true.  Wallace’s wife became Governor of Alabama.  Wallace ran for President several times and lost.   He was shot, but not killed.   Wallace said at one point, “We’ll use the power and prestige of the Governor’s office to try to awaken the American people to the trends that are rampant in our country. A trend that says we must fight the Communists in Vietnam while at the same time the Communist-controlled beatnik mobs in the streets influence national affairs in Washington, D.C.”  Peggy Wallace Kennedy, his Daughter, would go on to say, “Well, we were at dinner one night and, um, we were just talking about politics and, uh, things that were important in life. And he said, ‘There, there’re two things that are most important in life,’ and he said, ‘that’s money and power and I don’t care for money.’ He loved the power.”

Mr. Conservative.

Barry Goldwater, a Republican, became associated with anti-communism and labor-union reform.  Goldwater became a magnet for Conservatives.  He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It was proposed in secretive meetings, by George Wallace and his associates, that Wallace switch parties to become Goldwater’s running mate.  Goldwater eventually declined.  Goldwater’s conservative campaign was based on States Rights, and possible repeal of the Civil Rights Act.  Goldwater was the first Republican since reconstruction to carry South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  However, Goldwater lost in a landslide everywhere else, most likely, on his vote against the Civil Rights Act to the incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson and would help, for better or for worse, to solidify the New Frontier of domestic programs.  The South found a new champion and Conservative Republicans found a new home just as more “moderate” Republicans were moving, or being pushed, towards the Democratic Party.

Chickens come home to roost.

One of Wallace’s supporters who was horrified about him turning to the Race issue, said, “George, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?’ And Wallace, sadly he thought, said, ‘You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened.  And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”  Today we have “makers and takers” to inflame the same sort of tensions.  I am not sure if it is working.  Yet.  We are more than political parties, we are individuals whose lives should transcend these invisible barriers.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but it just seems senseless to me to keep pointing fingers and creating our own truth out of thin air.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

To Be Continued…

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