Ah yes, one more thing…

Trent Lott (R-MS) just got chosen to be minority whip. He’s the former majority leader who stepped down in 2003 after a bit of a fuss over his remarks at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Just so nobody forgets, his exact words were:

“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 the years, either.”

To clarify: Strom Thurmond ran for president in 1948 with the short-lived Dixiecrat party. This party formed when, at the 1948 Democratic convention, the party decided to put an anti-segregation plank into their platform; a coalition of 35 delegates stormed out and promptly formed the “States’ Rights Democratic Party,” more commonly known as the Dixiecrats, and ran their own candidate – Thurmond – on a strong pro-segregation platform. To quote him from this election,

“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

After this party collapsed, he switched to the Republicans, who had swept up control of the South basically by opposing the Democrats on desegregation.1

In his favor, Thurmond changed his mind — by the 1970’s, he repudiated segregation and ultimately did things like support black candidates for federal judgeships, something that Southern politicians of the day were loathe to do. Trent Lott, on the other hand, apparently never did.

So when you start hearing about how the Republican party just chose this guy to be their whip, because they need a good legislative tactician (and he certainly is that), just remember what they’re in bed with.

1 There’s a whole fascinating story here, about the political realignment in the late 40’s that basically reshaped American politics; and I didn’t hear word one about it until I took a fairly specialized course on the history of the American presidency in college. Amazing, what they don’t tell you in school.

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Published in: on November 15, 2006 at 18:37  Comments (14)  
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14 Comments

  1. Thank you. I knew this, but I am always pleased by attemtps to keep history from being re-written.

  2. Thank you. I knew this, but I am always pleased by attemtps to keep history from being re-written.

  3. re: footnote #1
    After the 2004 election, I was surprised how many people didn’t know about this. There was a map going around, showing how the red states included all the former Confederacy, and I couldn’t figure out what the big excitement was. Then I realized no one had ever heard the phrase “the Solid South”. And didn’t realize that their own beloved Dems had been the bad guys just 40 years before.
    In 1965, when he signed the big civil rights legislation, LBJ is reputed to have said that the Dems had just lost the South for a generation. It’s been longer than that by now, and all that’s changed is their loss has become complete.
    The Goldwater campaign made a conscious choice to play this card a year earlier, in 1964, and the consensus view is that the Goldwater-ites set the Republicans on the path they’ve pursued ever since.
    I could rant about this for hours.

  4. re: footnote #1
    After the 2004 election, I was surprised how many people didn’t know about this. There was a map going around, showing how the red states included all the former Confederacy, and I couldn’t figure out what the big excitement was. Then I realized no one had ever heard the phrase “the Solid South”. And didn’t realize that their own beloved Dems had been the bad guys just 40 years before.
    In 1965, when he signed the big civil rights legislation, LBJ is reputed to have said that the Dems had just lost the South for a generation. It’s been longer than that by now, and all that’s changed is their loss has become complete.
    The Goldwater campaign made a conscious choice to play this card a year earlier, in 1964, and the consensus view is that the Goldwater-ites set the Republicans on the path they’ve pursued ever since.
    I could rant about this for hours.

  5. I noticed in HS that they very carefully only teach history up to the start of WWI or WWII (depending on where you’re at). They just stop it there. The focus is more the civil war, and the buildup to WWII (at my school), with colonial to start of civil war being learn in 8th grade in Jr.HS.
    The explanation I was given at the time is that because people have grandparents and parents that would have been around, they:
    a) don’t need to teach it
    b) don’t want to teach contradictory views
    But then, I went to a pretty crappy school district, too. But the sheer amount of US History that I didn’t get continually surprises me. It was one of my favorite subjects, taught by good teachers. The problem was a lack of time spent on it. After grade school, I spent 2 classes on History (and had an option for taking World History for a 3rd class). You could probably have rolled both classes into a single semester of college history, and covered a bit more material at the same time.
    History just needs to be taught in more depth. Fewer names/dates memorization, and more talking about the people, and the situations, and how things formed and happened (makes it easier to remember the names and dates, at least for me).

  6. I noticed in HS that they very carefully only teach history up to the start of WWI or WWII (depending on where you’re at). They just stop it there. The focus is more the civil war, and the buildup to WWII (at my school), with colonial to start of civil war being learn in 8th grade in Jr.HS.
    The explanation I was given at the time is that because people have grandparents and parents that would have been around, they:
    a) don’t need to teach it
    b) don’t want to teach contradictory views
    But then, I went to a pretty crappy school district, too. But the sheer amount of US History that I didn’t get continually surprises me. It was one of my favorite subjects, taught by good teachers. The problem was a lack of time spent on it. After grade school, I spent 2 classes on History (and had an option for taking World History for a 3rd class). You could probably have rolled both classes into a single semester of college history, and covered a bit more material at the same time.
    History just needs to be taught in more depth. Fewer names/dates memorization, and more talking about the people, and the situations, and how things formed and happened (makes it easier to remember the names and dates, at least for me).

  7. I hate to be nitpicky, but it should be Trent Lott (R-MS).

  8. I hate to be nitpicky, but it should be Trent Lott (R-MS).

  9. Gah! That’s embarassing. Fixed.

  10. Gah! That’s embarassing. Fixed.

  11. No worries. It sucked growing up in Michigan, but at least we never produced Trent Lott.

  12. No worries. It sucked growing up in Michigan, but at least we never produced Trent Lott.

  13. And I wouldn’t want to sully the name of that state. I have quite a few friends from there. 🙂

  14. And I wouldn’t want to sully the name of that state. I have quite a few friends from there. 🙂


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