The White Party, and the rest
What a year,
1968. I watched the Republican "Coronation"
this week and was taken back to my childhood.
This is exactly what a re-nominating event would
have looked like had George Wallace won the
presidency. Growing up in the backwater swamps
of East Texas, I couldn't miss that election
as America stood on the brink of social transformation.
As a Southern
"cracker", I received an up-close
look at the positions of those who supported
the segregationist Governor of Alabama for President.
Wallace was already famous nationwide for tossing
a gauntlet to the Federal government with his
famous "segregation now, segregation tomorrow,
segregation forever" speech, and for having
blocked integration in Alabama public schools
by standing in the schoolhouse door in 1963.
for racism and intolerance, his campaign literature
focused on three themes: Patriotism, Militarism,
and economics. Today the theme would be called
W. supported a strong police force. "We
stand behind you because you are the thin line
between complete anarchy in the streets and
the physical safety of our person," stated
his campaign literature. In talking about the
Vietnam War, Wallace said, "These college
professors who are making speeches advocating
victory for the Viet Cong Communists - I would
deal with these people as they ought to be dealt
with, as traitors."
He was also
proud of his economic record in Alabama. His
campaign claimed, "Alabama enjoyed a record-breaking
growth in industry, education, highway construction
and other phases of state government."
as now, ranks as one of the lowest-performing
of American states both in industry and education.
Texas, where a more recent George served as
Governor, has counties with the lowest median
household incomes, the highest poverty rates
and the highest child poverty rates in the nation,
according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau
It was in 1968
that the Democrats began fleeing the Democratic
Party of Texas and calling themselves Independent
Americans and Republicans. It took another decade
before their numbers were significant enough
to have an impact on Texas elections, but it
was clear that the main reason they left the
party was because of its support for civil rights
for women and "colored people."
as a movement within the South, with almost
undisguised racism, has become the unacknowledged
core of the national Republican Party today.
One look at the events in Madison Square Garden
shows this clear divide.
In a country
where people of color - Asian, Middle Easterners,
Blacks, Hispanics, etc. - are becoming the majority,
the Republican Party still looks like the old
WASP, White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant crowd. Despite
token attempts at diversity, most of the non-white
faces in the crowd at the convention were either
press, security personnel, or entertainers.
get me wrong. I've also had membership in that
same old WASP club since birth. But I'm proud
to live in an America that is finally beginning
to fulfill its promise as a multicultural melting-pot,
a place where diversity and the cultures of
people throughout the world are celebrated.
This is the
By the way,
Governor Wallace lost his bid for election as
an independent candidate in 1968 but still managed
to garner nearly 10 million votes, about 13
percent of the total. Although he later recounted
his racist and bigoted past, by then his supporters
were firmly fixed in the Republican Party and
many were later counted among the "Reagan
in November could almost be called the White
Party versus Everyone else.
too many Americans seem to remain mired in a
segregationist past in their opposition to people
of color, immigrants, and non-"Christian"
faiths. They are completely missing our nation's
promise as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty,
"from her beacon-hand glows world-wide
This, however, is the American
harbor towards which the rest of us are sailing.
Peace - Charlie