President Donald Trump’s enduring appeal in the Republican presidential contest has forced the republican party to contend with voters fed up with party politics. Too many see their lives not improving over decades to where they are angry that their contributions to their country have not been appropriately rewarded to where they have been forgotten by both the republican and the democratic parties. During the campaign period, President Trump catered to his followers angst by appealing to his followers with a tough attitude.
Some 50 years ago, another colorful presidential candidate from Georgia put the scare in the traditional power brokers. George Wallace fired up crowds with a similar anti-establishment message, and drew protests as passionate as were witnesses at Trump’s rallies in 2016. Mr. Wallace also became a face of racial tension in America as the leading proponent for segregation in the 1960s.
Around 1964, George Wallace entered the national political stage. If a listener to George Wallace and the republican President Donald Trump were to close their eyes, it would be hard to distinguish who was saying what, because they both instinctively knew that fear and hate were the two greatest motivators of voters that feel alienated from government.
One could intellectually state that President Trump is the George Wallace of today. The big difference is that in 1968, the Georgia Governor George Wallace, a southern democrat, ran to become the US president as an independent/ third party candidate; whereas, President Trump had the backing of the republican party.
What is frightening is that the years 2016-2018 of President Trump truly represents a deja vu experience from 50 years ago. When you finish reading about George Wallace, I challenge you to be able to tell the difference between the two strong personalities. As a reminder Mr. Wallace lost to the republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon.
Here is the rest of the story…
On April 22, 2016, Debbie Elliott of NPR penned the following report, “Is Donald Trump A Modern-Day George Wallace?”
Tapping a vein of resentment
“Wallace — the Southern populist and former Golden Gloves boxing champ — burst onto the national stage, tapping into a vein of resentment over the social upheaval of the day — namely new civil-rights laws.”
“In 1968, running as a third-party candidate, he drew large crowds to ever-more raucous rallies.”
“We want Wallace! We want Wallace!” supporters would chant, as he took the stage at elaborate rallies that typically featured live country music acts.”
“Tens of thousands turned out in major Northeastern cities like Boston and New York. Wallace’s racial rhetoric on this national stage was more coded. He berated both the federal government and the national political parties for being out of touch with average Americans.”
“I want to tell these national parties this — they’re going to find out there are a lot of rednecks come Nov. 5th in this country,” Wallace said to a shouting crowd in 1968. “They’ve been used as a doormat long enough.”
“It was “doormats” in the ’60s. Today, a “dumping ground.”
“”The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump declared when he announced he was running for president.”
“Snider, now 84, was chairman of two of Wallace’s four presidential campaigns. Snider has been watching this year’s race with great interest.”
“George didn’t have the party for him,” he said. “He didn’t have the hierarchy for him. He didn’t have the major contributors for him. But he had the people for him. And that’s exactly what’s happening today with Donald Trump.”
Winning the Deep South
“Wallace shocked political pundits by winning nearly 10 million popular votes in the 1968 general election. He carried five states, sweeping most of the Deep South — Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and his home state of Alabama.”
“As the American Independent Party candidate, he won 46 electoral votes, the last third-party presidential candidate to win any electoral votes.”
“Wallace ran as a Democrat in 1972 and again in 1976. (During the ’72 campaign, he was shot and wounded in an assassination attempt that left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair.)”
“Snider said watching the protesters at Trump rallies today reminds him of being on the campaign trail with Wallace. In an era of anti-war and civil-rights activism, there were always protesters in the audience.”
“George kinda liked that ’cause he would badger with them,” Snider said.”
“He said Wallace would make fun of men with long hair — or joke about them wearing sandals in the cold weather. “He kindly enjoyed it,” Snider said.”
“The documentary George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire by Paul Stekler and Daniel McCabe shows Wallace provoking protesters.”
“He toys with a shouting man who has long hair. “I love you, too, I sure do,” Wallace coos. “Oh, I thought you were a she. You’re a he. Oh, my goodness.”
“In another scene, he shouts, “Why don’t you young punks get out of the auditorium?” as the crowd jeers at demonstrators.”
“In this year’s Republican race, Trump has made throwing out disruptive hecklers part of his stump.”
“Ready? Are you ready?” he asked a crowd in Iowa City, Iowa. His supporters cheered wildly. “Get ’em outta here! Get the hell outta here!” Trump yelled, as security guards took away the protesters.”
Trump is no racial segregationist, but there has been race-based controversy
“While their combative styles mirror one another, Trump is no racial segregationist.”(This post was written before the August 2017 Charlottesville, VA. incidents, where a White supremacist rally turned violent. Later President Trump attempted to equate those protesting hate groups with those who are members of organizations like neo-Nazis annd KKK members, )
“Wallace drew voters alarmed at eroding white privilege. Trump draws voters worried about the erosion of blue-collar jobs and competition from immigrant labor.”(President Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” was meant to hearken back to the 1960s. My opinion is that President Trump and the White Supremacists’ staffers like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka and the then Senator Jeff Sessions were looking to “Make America White Again.”)
“But Trump has also become embroiled in controversy over race. In his announcement speech, he said undocumented Mexican immigration was bringing drugs and “rapists.” And he has called for a temporary ban on noncitizen Muslims entering the U.S. Those have become lightning rods in much the way Wallace’s positions did in the 1960s.”
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said in South Carolina after the terrorist attacks in Paris late last year.”
“The Alabama governor’s daughter, Wallace Kennedy, is a retired schoolteacher who now advocates for the very voting rights her father once fought. She’s critical of the Trump campaign and says she even hears an echo of her father’s campaign slogans in Trump’s. They appeal to voters who think the country, as they know it, is slipping away, she said.”
“My father would say, ‘The federal government is not going to tell me what to do, so we’re going to stand up for ourselves,’ ” Wallace Kennedy said. “His theme was ‘Stand up for America.’ Donald Trump’s theme is let’s ‘Make America Great Again.’
Their appeal has nothing to do with political ideology, according to historian Dan Carter, author of The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics.
“This is about style,” he said. “It’s about impressions. It’s about a vague taking charge.”
“Now professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina, Carter said both Trump and Wallace come across as fighters to voters who believe the country is on the wrong track.”
“There are a lot of people who essentially want the world to stop and want it to stop changing,” Carter said. “And when that happens, you look for a strong individual. And to me that’s the big appeal and the big similarity between George Wallace and Donald Trump.”
Tension on the campaign trail — with protesters and the media
“Incidents of violence at rallies are another common theme. Just as Trump supporters have turned on protesters in the crowd, Wallace rallies were known to get physical.”
“On CBS Evening News in October of 1968, correspondent David Dick reported from a Detroit rally, where a fight broke out between hecklers and Wallace supporters.”
“The tension was so great, emotions so high, there was an inevitable melee,” Dick reported. “Fistfights, chairs for weapons, and sticks — both improvised and official.”
“Former Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett was a reporter with the Birmingham Post-Herald at the time and covered the Wallace presidential rallies.”
“They were wild,” he said.”
“He recalled one particular confrontation in Portland, Ore. “Protesters were going around one way and Wallace supporters were going around the other,” he said. “And when they’d clash, they’d hit each other with signs, one of which said, ‘God is love.’ ”
“Bennett wrote a column on the similarities he sees between Trump’s approach and Wallace’s campaign style — for instance, the way they target the media.”
“Wallace used to point out the press that was there,” Bennett said. “And sometimes that didn’t go over so well with some of these crowds, either.”
“Wallace said at a Florida rally in 1968: “The average citizen in this county has more intelligence and sense in his little finger than the editor of The New York Times has in his whole head.”
“Trump is no fan, either: “The press is really bad,” he has said. And he’s taken to calling the newspaper “the failing NY Times.”
“At a rally in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Trump revved up the crowd against the press, calling the media “the most dishonest people in the world.”
“Do we like the media?” he asked.”
“No!” rose up from the audience.
“Do we hate the media?” he asked, raising his hands up to cue the crowd.
“There’s another similarity between Wallace and Trump, too. Like Wallace, Trump may spar with the press, but he also tends to be the candidate who gets the most media attention.”