Volume 5, Issue 1 University of Houston
Back in the good ol' days
"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
In 1948, at the tender age of 46, Sen. Thurmond (R-S.C.), then-governor of South Carolina, ran for president of the United States on the platform of keeping segregation alive. You see, he opposed Harry Truman's radical views on civil rights. So who voted for him -- and why would anyone say his or her state was proud of having done so?
Well, apparently, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's home state of Mississippi did. And he's right proud it did, too.
Lott's statements, made during Thurmond's 100-year birthday celebration Dec. 5, have come back to haunt him. While not overtly racist, the statement makes it sound as though the country would have been better off had it abandoned all that damn civil rights talk.
True, Thurmond, like the South, changed over the years and even softened his stance on keeping the minority folks down. Hell, he even brought some of them into his staff and supported their attempts to become judges.
Why was that exactly? Was it because he suddenly saw the light almost 15 years after it was clear America, as a whole, wanted civil rights for everyone? Was it because the Republican Party is fair to all people, regardless of race or economic status?
Or was it because he's a politician who was dead set on dying on the Senate floor and knew the best way to assure he'd be re-elected would be, not to change but, to give in?
No, Lott may not have to step down as majority leader, but he should take a good look at the date and remember it as the day he made re-election for him and his fellow Republicans a whole lot harder.
So that's what real leadership in Washington is all about.