The Legacy of George Wallace
When I first read Lesher's opinion about the influence of George Wallace on American politics I was a startled and thought the proposal was not factual. The more I contemplated what he said, the more it made sense. His claim that from Nixon to Clinton, key elements of their appeal came from Wallace concepts, can be added to by further elections that confirm the point.
Lesher reminded us that Wallace's appeal became more than racial. Later on, the author reminds us, Wallace was the only Southern Politician to apologize. Wallace enjoyed White as Well as Black support in Alabama in his last campaign for governor. He even wheeled himself down the isle of a Black Congregation to ask for their forgiveness.
The appeal of Wallace was more than just race early on. Lesher reminds us that hippies, professional and business people joined his ranks. He almost won the Democratic nomination for President as we recall. Wallace proposed that pointed- headed liberals were ruining his country. The ultimate problem was these elites who ran the government and he was the ultimate outsider promising to give the government back to the people. His appeal often was rooted in the idea he was an outsider fighting the powers that be inside the Beltway.
As Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech you can almost see the movement Wallace began that found fulfillment in a message Wallace might have written. Wallace believed the good people of the nation were being denied access to power by an elite group of insiders. Trump resounded, "For too long a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while people have borne the cost." Trump reasoned that politicians prospered at the expense of the citizens. Donald Trump promised, "The American carnage stops here and stops right now." Trump stated that the wealth of the middle class was ripped from their homes. A common theme from the Wallace camp that decent Southerners were being preyed upon by an elitist government. The common man was not considered and was a mere pawn in the hands of the influential. Trump promised, "You will never be ignored again."
Sitting on the platform behind President Trump were a host of former Presidents. Though not to the extent Trump did, many of them often played the same fiddle. They proposed they were the outsiders demanding these elite let them into the reins of power. Carter was the peanut farmer from Georgia. He wore sweaters for his fireside chats with the public. His replacement, Reagan, proposed that government was the problem. His populace movement as an outsider played well with the public. The Bush family, hardly outsiders, allowed the Lee Atwaters and Karl Bush peoples in their campaigns to push the right buttons to appeal to these sentiments. Clinton was the high school band member from small town Hope, Arkansas. He came from a broken home. It was a long way from Hope to Washington D.C. Obama's "yes we can" was the call of a black outsider, promising to deliver the government to its neglected residents of the country. It was interesting to see them sitting behind Trump while he stated he was wrestling the government away from them and handing it back to the people. His major opponents were government people, namely crooked Hillary and lying Ted. Ted was riding his horse into town claiming he was there to rescue the town from the horrible insiders who were in their way. He was enraged when the horse he was riding was carjacked by trump and used to run over him.
Obama Care is a powerful slogan. I am not sure the government totally understood it. But it is a symbol. A symbol of a government that is ruining our lives. Taking from us and rewarding Reagan's welfare queens. It is a sign of a government gone astray and out of touch with its base to these mindsets.
I once attended a John Birch Society meeting. The local head of the group had once been a Wallace Campaign volunteer heading up a state apparatus. Most of the members at the meeting were also members of prominent Religious Right churches. The connection between Birchers, Wallace and the Religious Right were evident by my contact.
Wallace told his crowds, "The Supreme Court has made it against the law to read the Bible in public schools." The fear that government was against the Christian faith was a common theme with Trump. He promised to say "Merry Christmas." He pledged to allow churches to directly engage in political electioneering and not endanger the tax exempt status of the church. He will do his best to insure the 50lc3 tax code will be revised to allow campaigning by his endorsing ministers. Wallace had a Baptist minister by the name of George Mangum who would open his campaigns with an appeal for money. Some of Trumps supporting ministers were rewarded with sitting on the platform and praying at the inauguration. Trump fulfilled his promise by not being afraid to use the terms "Islamic Terrorists." An appeal, no doubt, to Hal Lindsey followers who believe that Obama was seeking to make America an Islamic state. I note many facebook folks are stating we now have our government back. To many the Christian nation theme is part of the celebration.
Trumps recommended Secretary of Education is a throw- back to Southern desires to get government money for private Christian Schools. Schools, that during Wallace's campaign were an alternative to integrated public schools. Privatizing of public education will be a new agenda in the government. A throw- back to homeschool founder, R. J. Rushdoony, who believed the only government programs were to be the military and local sheriff.
Rushdoony also taught the basic premise of the human species was rebellion. Rebellion against authority. I wondered to myself what these former Presidents thought about the proposal that our new President had wrestled the government from carnage and given it back to the people?
Wallace was an ex-Golden Gloves champion and political scrapper. He allowed himself to be drawn into populist ideas that made him compromise his politics. He ended his term appealing to all citizens in Alabama and built many bridges. Both for traffic and politics. Trump did promise to be President to all citizens reminding us we are all blood brothers. Our hope lies is the belief that future Presidents will take the best from Wallace, and not his worst.
The Legacy of George Wallace | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
The Legacy of George Wallace | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)