Perspective: Deja Vu

May 7, 2019

In November 1963, I was told by the Dean of my college that Governor George Wallace of Alabama had requested a meeting with “his boys” from Alabama. My parents had recently moved to Alabama from Illinois. This meeting was days before President Kennedy was assassinated.

Wallace had just been elected governor with the pledge: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” He was starting a third party run for President.

His scholarly presentation to the filled athletic hall covered state’s rights, Brown vs. Board of Education, and a dictatorial central government. He opined that the civil rights acts, court implementation, and use of the Army by Kennedy, amounted to usurpation of individual freedoms.

As he put it later: “... It’s the workin’ folks all over this country who’re gettin’ fed up and are gonna turn this country around, and a whole heap of politicians are gonna get run over when they do.”

Or, as one young liberal said, “By God, this could be the time. Just because all the others have missed before—the Know Nothings, Joe McCarthy, Goldwater—that doesn’t mean they’ll keep on missing. This could be it. He might be the one with the right combination.” Wallace lost his bid but did get electoral college votes.

It wasn’t his time.

President Trump is eerily close to George Wallace. He advocates shooting any young protestors who pick up a brick to throw, just like Wallace. He claims working folks support. Businessmen were enthralled by the Governor: One said he’d be for Wallace if he didn’t get tamed by Washington -- and so would his friends. Washington’s central control is being dismantled by Mr. Trump and his oligarch constituency.

It is clear to me that Mr. Trump has “run over a whole heap of politicians” in the Republican Party. Paradoxically he claims unchecked executive power and a populist base.

He found the lever that Wallace missed.

I’m Karl Winkler and that’s my perspective.