Contents: Plunkitt of Tamany Hall Patterson, "State and Local Politics: Maintaining Our Differences" James Q. Wilson & John DiIulio, American Government, Chap. 25: State & Local Government, V.O. Key, "Alabama", Alexis De Tocqueville, "Equality" (from Democracy in America) Permaloff & Grafton, "1: Lags & Gaps in Recent Alabama History". Permaloff & Grafton, "11: The More they Stay the Same." PBS video, "Going to Great Lengths: AL Constitution of 1901" PBS video, "Settin the Woods on Fire: George Wallace" [Documents Index] Jonathan Walters, "Raising Alabama",Governing Magazine. Shailagh Murray, "Divinity School Article Debates Morality of Alabama Tax-Code" [article] The Economist, Obituary of Frank Johnson NEW Lamis (ed) Southern Politics in the 1990s, Ch. 1: The Two Party South Lamis (ed) Southern Politics in the 1990s, Ch. 8, "Alabama: The GOP Rises in the Heart of Dixie" Lamis (ed) Southern Politics in the 1990s, Chap. 13, "Southern Politics in the 1990s," (conclusion)
Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft
Many of the Tammany men have gotten rich off of politics. they did it by seeing opprotunities and taking them. Many opportunities were in real estate and in the manner of ganing votes by raising salaries.
How to become a statesmen
Plukitt feels that college can not make you a great politician. Other people feel that to be a good politician is to become a great speaker. The educated men are mearly ornamental. Plunkitt feels you should work your way up from the bottom. Start with one person to back you and continue to add names.
The Curse of Civil Service Reform
Plunkitt says that the civil service law was a fraud. Not being able to give people who work for your party jobs in the organizatioin turns them away from the system.
Reformers only mornin' glories
Reformers never stay. They're not trained well enough to do so.
New York city is pie for the hayseeds
New York is what every political leader wants. The hayseeds are the smaller surrounding cities. Everyone wants a piece of the city. People are able to have their tax cuts, but its at the expense of raising taxes in NYC.
To hold your district: study human nature and
You cant study human nature in books. you have to go amoung them. Bring people in not to talk about politics but about their gifts. Go and actually help the poor, dont stuff mailboxes with "literature" and always give jobs to the deserving men.
On "the sham of the cities"
Talks about the difference between a looter and a politician is that a politican looks after everyone's interest. Plunkitt gets more specific to say that NYC is governed better than Philidelphia because of the Irish-which are born leaders.
Tammany leaders not bookworms
Tammany hall has men that are full of common sense but are not highly booksmart. They fit their district because the people like them, not because of their education.
Dangers of a dress suit in politics
Live like your equal- make the poorest man feel a little superior to you and avoid a dress suit. Plunkitt tells various stories of people's ruin because of their over dressing.
on municipal ownership
Plunkitt is for municipal owernship without civil service law so that his Tammany men could have more jobs. He says if the city owned things, salaries would go up. Politics is the business of looking after people.
Concerning Gas in Politics
Plunkitt discusses a bill that was defeated in Albany over gas. People accused the senators of being bribed. Plunkitt doesnt defend the senators, he just advises people to act slowly.
Plunkitts fondest dream
Plunkitt is waiting an uprising from NYC because they are slaves to those in Albany. he would love to have a Tammany govenor.
Discuss how patriotic the men are that dont get caught up in civil service.
On the uses of money in politics
Recieving money is not bad because polticians work and have expenses. People know what yoru paid adn they expect a job worth that pay.
The successful politician does not drink. Alcohol just interferes with business
Parting word on the future of the Democratic
Party in America
The party cant die while it has Tammany as it's backbone. The party's problem is they chase after theories and books. once again everything would be fine if civil service reform was dead
Patterson, "State and Local Politics: Maintaining Our Differences"
from The American Democracy
By Elizabeth McLain
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States… (Tenth Amendment)
The structure of the U. S. government—federalism and localism—was established when the nation was founded two centuries ago. Is the constitutional structure that was created years ago suited to modern needs? The demand for greater efficiency and equality could only be met through a stronger national response, but in more recent years, there has been a flow of power back to the states and localities. The persistence of this system across more than two centuries is testimony to the founders’ visions and to the willingness of succeeding generations of Americans to find a combination of national, state, and local authority that could meet their governing needs.
Wilson 25, State &
(Vance McBrayer, 2000)
- State governments are not mini version
of the federal government, and municipal governments are not mini versions
of state governments
- Federal government is divided into executive and legislative branches, while state governments often have a legislative branch that chooses the executive
- Federal judges are appointed by the President; state judges are often elected by the people
- People never vote directly for anything on the national level; a lot of matters are settled on the state level by direct vote
- The existence of state governments is guaranteed by the Constitution
- Municipals are charted by state governments through special-act charters and general-act charters
- States are also divided into counties (except for Connecticut and Rhode Island), towns and townships, and special districts, such as school districts
- The biggest difference among state governments are whether they have the Jeffersonian model of government or the Progressive model
- Jacksonian model of government is one that wants to have a lot of elected officials closely accountable to the voters; the Progressive model prefer few elected officials, with power concentrated in the hands of the executive branch
- The power of a governor varies from state to state
- All states have state legislatures, but are not small version of Congress
- State legislatures may have either professional legislators or amateur legislators
- The structure of the state judicial branch are similar to the federal system
- Cities are also divided between the Jacksonian and the Progressive models
- Characteristics of a Jacksonian city are: elections partisan, city council elected from districts, executive powers in hands of mayor, and weak civil service
- Characteristics of a Progressive city are: elections nonpartisan, city council elected at large, executive powers in hands of appointed city manager, and strong civil service
- Policy making differs in state governments because states have to work harder to live within their means, and because states have to compete with one another for businesses, residents, and tourists
- Politics in states and cities are often driven by taxes and spending
- The federal government’s role in fighting crime as been increasing in the past years
V.O. Key: "Alabama",
from Southern Politics-In State and Nation,
by Jarret Layson, 2002
"Big Mules"-local term
for B'ham industrialists and financiers
Alabamians retain a sort of frontier independence, w/ an inclanation to defend liberty and to bait the interests
Contrasts Al to Va- unlike Va, Al hasn't been dominated over a long period by a single well-disciplined competing machines
no orderly system prevails for recruitment, developement, and advancement of political leaders
political process-free for all-every man looking out for himself
progressive-conservative cleavage persists the turnovers in the ranks of state-wide leaders alone prevents the crystalization and solidification of voter loyalties
2. Friends and Neighbors effect
powerful localism provides
an important ingredient of Al nationalism
absence of stable, well-organized, state-wide factions of like-minded people
low voter interests in public issues-susceptablility to control by support the home town boy
state politics is a struggle of individualism to build a state-wide following on the foundation of local support voters in larger cities do not have the same sense of loyalty toward a local candidate as do those in small and rural areas
effects of friends and neighbors-- 1. personal factor in transient factions of southern politics 2. control of a local machine 3. absence of a well-organized competing factions w/ stable and state-wide followings among voters
2. Sectionalism Emergent from Localism
sectionalism amounts to
localism on large scale
sectaional pattterns 1. North Al and SE Al are allied against the black belt 2. black belt ally itself w/ the "big mules" of B'ham and lesser "big mules" of mobile
the split between black belt and remainder of state in Folsom-Ellis contrast suggest that back bone of southern conservatism may be found in high black consentrations
recurrent progressive outbursts- fact that over considerable areas the population includes comparitively small proportions of negros
the absence of a party label for local candidates contributes to voters' confusions
problems of a one-party state- make alternatives obscure
3. The Transient Nature of Personal Factions
the kaleidoscope alignment
and realignment, combonation of alabama voters differ from electoral behavior
in two-party states
in Al-each leader recieves his groups of leaders from the ground up
personalization of leadership fractionalizes the electorate
personal followings are so weak thta the leader can only within their limits hold his following together from election to election for himself much less transfer it to another candidate
freinds and favors take on a special significance in one-party states-building of a faction must start at bottom-heavy allience must be placed on the dispersion of favors and promise of favors
4. Channels to the Voter
factional machinery for
reaching voter is needed in one-party states...two kinds of machines- 1.
created for other purposes which is converted to campainging purposes 2.
essential organizations built up by each candidates among his acquaintances
most one-party states have a state-wide machine based on county rings
chief figure in government of about 2/3 of Al is probate judge-dominant faction within county
the support of the probate judge is sought after by conadidates
probate judges are ambassadors for their county in dealing with government state departments
ready made group that can be used in state campaigning consists of state employees
the "big mules"-steel, coal, iron, insurance, utilities-posses few vates but controls campaign funds and command the loyalties of many individuals influential with the electorate
in a few scattered localities labor unions perform the party functions of arousing the voter and getting them to polls
teachers constitute a significant bloc in state politics and their support is sought by candidates for state-wide office
Men judge other men based on the actions and persona that is given off when a man has become full grown, well Tocqueville believes that this is the wrong thing to do. First get to know a man, his background, and upbringing, then decide on the type of person he is based off that information.
This is the rationale in which he views America. Looking carefully at America’s history, we will be able to realize what shaped America. America was shaped by the various people that came and inhabited the land here and the diversity that they brought is what makes America what it is today. Language is what ties people together most, and that is why when the colonies arrived at this new land at the same time, they were able to unite and form this country. The immigrants that migrated as well were able to form a bond and treat each other equally.
But Tocqueville believes that the greatest thing that unites a people is poverty and misfortune. When everyone is in need and want of many of the same things, they don’t view each other differently, they are all equal because they all realize that they all need the same things. "A nation may present immense fortunes and extreme wretchedness, but unless those fortunes are territorial there is no true aristocracy, but simply the class of the rich and that of the poor."
But when your family is in need "family pride" kicks in and the drive to provide for your family by any costs is apparent. Self love of immortalizing oneself so that there grand children will be able to live off of his fortune. When this happens, inequality occurs because those with less money look at those with more money as better than them. "I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men, and where a profounder contempt is expressed for the theory of the permanent equality of property. But wealth circulates with inconceivable rapidity and experience shows that it is rare to find two succeeding generations in full enjoyment of it…"
America is a democratic country and he believes
that equality will eventually find its way into the political world as
it does everywhere else.
Permaloff & Grafton, "Lags and Gaps in Recent Alabama History"
from Political Power in AL (1995)
Dusty Averette, 2002
- long term failures in the responsiveness of a state's political system
II. Civil Rights Lag
- Disparity between laws of the Constitution of the United States and Southern law practices
- 1950's: Blacks consisted of 1/3 of Alabama population; were not allowed to vote
- Black schools were of much lower quality than white schools
- Segregation enforced in schools, public facilities, and public transportation
- lag based on the belief of inferiority of blacks
- white riots against blacks went unpunished
- President Woodrow Wilson ordered mass segregation of public facilities
- IQ tests were given, that in turn, broadened the gap between the races
- 1924 marked the movement of blacks towards the Democratic Party
- Movement of more minority groups to Demorcratic side also
- Anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, KKK affiliates moved towards the GOP side, thus broadening
the gap again
- Great Depression caused an intensified divisions due to job shortages; Klan members elected
governor in Alabama, Georgia, and Colorado
- Roosevelt's (FDR) began to bring about change; Northern blacks began to hold
prominent positions in the Democratic party and in Roosevelt administration;
national black migration to northern cities
- lag became central political factor in 1960's and 70's race struggles
Equality and the Big Mules
- work relationships and structure of private and public sector organizations underwent
- Long term changes
- post World War II and GI Bill of Rights caused an increase of labor in Alabama cities
of Birmingham, Mobile, and Gadsden
Elites and Lags
- commonly come disconnected from their environments because the environments
change and elites have no self-accommodation; this is due to the failure of bringing
outside input in and failing to listen to warnings
- three bodies of social science predict identis outcomes when an elite disconnects
-interest group theory
- all who use this concept wiew government policies as the result of forces
eminating from interest groups
- pressures of interest groups has an effect on politics
Malappropriation and the Rural Lag
- over representation of rural areas in state legislature
- counties receiveing more representation than they need
- in this lag, rural voting had in Black Belt was 70,000 voters to 1 elector, where as in
none Black Belt regions it was 2500 voters to 1 elector
-there was also a delay of suburbanization in these areas
Black Belt vs. North and South Lag
- Black Belt tended to have more political pull because of delegates who were elected
to office more than one time, rather than the none Black Belt electors who were
Party Competition Lag
- Democratic Party was tops during the 1950s
- there was a heavy migration of people, mostly white, to urban areas in order to "indirectly"
- Regional party divisions were prevalent; Democrats were in the north of the State; democrats
were predominant in the South
Economic and Cultural Gaps: Alabama and the Nation
- 1950s Alabama life was of a substandard nature
- 39.5% of rural areas still had unpaved roads
- 1920s and 30s was the beginning of Alabama falling behind the nation
Education Fund and Educational Attainment
- 1950s: Alabama education levels are lower than the nation by 8.4%
- An increase to 10.8% and then to 13.7%
- Alabama teachers paid less than other state teachers
- Rural areas even had teachers who were not college graduates
- Article based on the lags of the Alabama government and how such actions have caused the
government to be behind the remainder of the nation in many areas
AL Constitution longest in the free world [and
has grown greatly since this film was made]
Alabama's supreme law says "nigger, nigger, nigger"
1875- redeemer constitution -did not necessarily deny blacks the right to vote
1901 -big mules scared of ordinary people getting political power
Wallace adopted more sophisticated suits and hairstyle Cornelia advised him his third party supporters were insufficient for a presidential bid
against protege Al Brewer, Lt Gov. new state law allowed him to run for second term. Nixon secretly funded (via Red Blount) the Al Brewer campaign for Gov '70 to cost Wallace his base. Nasty campaign of 'independent' rumors against Brewer -- gay, wife interracially dating, black fear, etc. Reminders to voters to vote white. Wallace won. Married Cornelia. She warned him 3d party was a weak crowd & moderated his image.
Seymour Tramell coop'd w/Feds on finances -- and Wallace brother Gerry had greatly increased income, up 400%, mostly from state contractors. Gerry "Sag" had to surrender accounting books to IRS Nixon deal, when dedicating waterway, May 1971: Wallace became Dem 7 months later, and IRS investigation dropped days later. THird party candidacy not a threat to NIxon Trammell went to prison after the deal -- only one
Arthur Bremer loner, weird, probably mentally ill, ridiculed in a Milwaukee HS, obsessed with unrequited love, part time busboy & janitor, intended fame by killing Nixon or Wallace. 1972 Wallace campaign. Soon after Sup Ct opinion in favor or busing. Carried all FL counties on anti busing platform. 48 hours later, Nixon TV address proposing immediate halt to busing orders by federal courts. Not shot in March primary rally in Milwaukee because 2 girls were in way. aide: expected that stirring up crowd could bring out kooks, risks. Chestnut: preaching hatred may come back to bite you. Good performance, Strong second, in Wisconsin primary. Strong second also in PA, higher poll numbers and overflowing crowds. 15 May, shot in spine in Laurel, MD, rally for MD primary. Bremer had been unable to get aide to bring Wallace to him in crowd at previous rally. Cornelia protected body, since two bodyguards had also been shot. Wallace always aware of danger following 1963 & 1968 assassinations paralyzed in both legs Nixon plotted with aides to plant McGovern leaflets on Bremer's apartment. Unable, because FBI had closed off apartment. Wallace kept campaigning, but suffered health problems. Spoke to Dem Convention, but awkward speech, no longer a factor. Reelected as Gov of AL 1974, when public dissatisfied with Washington insiders
first candidate openly running in a wheelchair (contrast with FDR) -- quoted Al Smith "We're not electing an acrobat" Cornelia pushing FDR model on George, but inability to stand on podium a disadvantage. Populist speeches again, against big government and big business dropped by aides, injured again lost to Carter in FL and NC primaries, effectively eliminated Wallace and gave Carter a surge Wallace then endorsed Carter as a southern candidate, first Southern Gov to win presidency since before Civil War Reagan picked up some Wallace themes & voters, but with more positive outlook Accused Cornelia of having affairs, marital discord, tapped each other's phones. Divorce from Cornelia.
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- For nearly a century, reformers have tried in vain to change this state's antiquated tax structure. The Alabama code requires families of four earning as little as $4,600 to pay income tax, the nation's lowest threshold. It charges a higher sales tax on baby formula than on cattle feed and permits timber interests to pay relatively meager property taxes compared with homeowners.
Now an unlikely force is setting off a tax revolt in Alabama: religious fervor. The catalyst is Susan Pace Hamill, a tax-law professor who used a sabbatical at a divinity school to write "An Argument for Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics."
"How could we, in a free society of a bunch of Christians, have the worst, most unjust tax structure that you could ever have dreamed up?" asks Ms. Hamill.
Her paper, published last month in the Alabama Law Review, has been cited by influential Alabamans in business and the state house, including the recently elected Republican governor, Bob Riley. It has also brought some of the most powerful of Alabama's 8,000 churches into the fray, with pastors culling from the article to preach about the Christian duty to demand a tax code that falls more evenly on rich and poor. Recently, the paper has been condensed into a brochure titled, "The Least of These," a reference to Jesus' teaching about helping the disadvantaged, and 10,000 copies are now being distributed to churches statewide by Samford University, where Ms. Hamill attended divinity school.
Alabama churches may be powerful enough to succeed where past tax-code reformers have failed. One longtime obstacle: powerful agricultural and timber interests who have fought to protect rules that keep their taxes very low.
Moreover, most of the tax code is enshrined in Alabama's complicated 100-year-old constitution, making changes more difficult than in other states. To increase property taxes, individual counties have to get permission from voters, and in most cases the Alabama legislature.
Even then, the state constitution imposes absolute dollar limits on property taxes for individual landowners. Counties can raise the sales tax, a portion of which goes to the state, without permission. Those rates have crept as high as 11%, and make up more than half the state's revenue. Because poor and working-class people spend nearly everything they earn, sales taxes take a bigger bite of their income. In Alabama, that translates into an especially heavy burden on African-Americans, who account for about a quarter of the state's population but half of its poor.
Mr. Riley credits Ms. Hamill with bringing the churches into the tax debate. "The churches have never been there" for reform until now, he says. Still, they've flexed their muscle at other times. In 1999, churches rallied their congregations against a state lottery sought by then-Democratic Don Siegelman, and are credited with its defeat.
Three days after Mr. Riley took office Jan. 20, he created a commission to recommend constitutional changes that would clear the way for "comprehensive tax reform," a spokesman says. The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Alabama Southern Baptist Convention, the Episcopal Church, as well as local Roman Catholic and Jewish officials, have all recently endorsed tax-code changes.
The growing religious movement for tax reform dovetails with other forces pushing for change. In November, after Mr. Riley's election, state business leaders formed a lobbying coalition to create a new tax structure that would support schools and other government services, even if companies have to pay more. The coalition fears Alabama's budget crisis is taking such a toll on education and other priorities that it would scare away potential investors.
Even with business and Church support, Mr. Riley faces big challenges in enacting reform. First, he has to push constitutional reform through a reluctant legislature, where powerful farming and timber interests remain well represented. Some conservative Christian groups also oppose reform. Alfa, the Alabama Farmers Federation, which also represents timber growers, has circulated a position paper arguing against any changes to the tax code. Mike Kilgore, executive director of Alfa, says that property tax valuations and collections have grown "at astounding rates" in recent years, and argues that the state needs to spend its money more wisely.
In her stump speech, which she gives at least twice a week, Ms. Hamill reminds congregations and civic groups that both the Old and New Testaments condemn economic oppression of the poor. Her paper cites Micah 2:1: "Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil in their beds!" Ms. Hamill points to other Old Testament references that say the poor deserve a "minimum opportunity" to succeed. Alabama's underfunded schools fail that test, she says.
Ms. Hamill, 42, attends Trinity United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, and has traveled to numerous churches around the state to speak, often bringing her husband and two kids along so they can attend Sunday services together. After graduating from Emory University and Tulane Law School, the Florida native did a stint at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York and worked as a lawyer at the Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington. Eight years ago, she moved to Tuscaloosa to teach at the University of Alabama Law School.
As a traditional Methodist, Ms. Hamill at first felt like an outsider among Alabama's large evangelical Christian population. She decided to immerse herself in the study of evangelical Christianity during a sabbatical at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham. While there, she read a local newspaper explaining how Alabama taxes families of four with very low incomes. "I assumed the $4,600 figure was a misprint," she told a recent Kiwanis Club breakfast meeting in Tuscaloosa.
Her thesis, published in draft form in August, swiftly took hold. Mimeographed copies were passed around law firms, government offices and think tanks. Mr. Riley, locked in a tight gubernatorial election campaign against the incumbent Mr. Siegelman, endorsed Ms. Hamill's paper during a television appearance in October 2002 and since being elected has become a more vocal supporter of tax reform. (Mr. Siegelman had made tax reform a big part of his campaign.)
History of Conflict
Alabama's tax code is an artifact of the state's history of racial conflict. Before the Civil War, the state derived most of its revenue from a slave tax. After slavery disappeared, the state raised property taxes to make up for the lost income. That caused a backlash from whites, who owned the vast majority of land.
A state constitution adopted in 1875 capped property taxes. A 1901 version made the burden even lighter. The goal of industry bosses and land barons who wrote the latter document was "to establish white supremacy in this state," constitutional-convention president John Knox said at the time.
That Jim Crow-era effort sharply restricts Alabama's tax base today. Forests stretch across 71% of the state, but timber land is taxed at a preferential agricultural rate that averages 95 cents per acre. Georgia timber owners, by comparison, pay an average of $4 to $6 per acre, according to some studies, and big owners pay more per acre. Six of Ms. Hamill's law students spent several months calculating how much the timber industry contributes to the total property-tax pie: less than 2%.
Alabama's $4,600 income-tax threshold for families of four is the lowest among the 42 states that levy income taxes, according to several studies. In neighboring Mississippi, the first $19,600 of household income is exempt. In California, the exemption is $38,800. Mr. Riley calls the situation "immoral."
Academics, public-policy experts and state newspapers have railed against the peculiarities of Alabama's tax code for decades. "Big Jim" Folsom, a 6-foot-8 populist Democrat, called for reform after winning the governorship in 1946. But Mr. Folsom's efforts died in the Alabama Legislature, which has remained the graveyard of reform ever since.
Last year, Alabama House Speaker Seth Hammett couldn't even persuade colleagues to vote on a resolution calling for voters to decide whether to go forward with the constitutional reform that's necessary to change the tax system. Some conservative Christian groups, including the Christian Coalition of Alabama, cheered the Legislature's inaction on grounds it could lead to higher taxes and legalized gambling. Some reform opponents object on religious grounds to giving the state broader taxing authority.
Ms. Hamill believes she's been called by God to this battle. She has little first-hand knowledge of those she seeks to help. For instance, she hasn't visited many of the poverty-stricken parts of the state that she has studied and written about. "Until recently, most of my field trips out of the ivory tower were speaking engagements to the business and tax crowd," says Ms. Hamill.
She was a guest one recent Sunday at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church in Birmingham. Leading an adult Sunday school class, Ms. Hamill described Alabama as "the modern version of ancient Israel. The land's being gobbled up. There's no minimum opportunity. And we're staying afloat on the backs of the poor." Vestavia's upper-middle-class congregation was so riveted by Ms. Hamill's presentation that she was invited back for another session.
Other groups are more stubborn. One area of resistance: the state's Black Belt, a cluster of former cotton-growing counties mostly in the state's western midsection, nicknamed for its dark soil. Though it is rich in timber, the region has a paltry tax base and some of Alabama's least-equipped schools. If any region could benefit from tax reform, it's the Black Belt. Yet in the antebellum town of Marion, Zion United Methodist Church Pastor Fairest Cureton predicts many of his black parishioners will resist.
He says he will preach in favor of reform. But he says poor people tend to like the sales tax, because they pay it in small increments. And so they may reject change as an effort to make them pay more.
Across town, Rev. Michael Perry of Siloam Baptist Church, whose members include the county's wealthiest landowners and are primarily white, won't raise the subject. "As a whole, the tax system is terribly out of skew," Rev. Perry says. "But my parishioners would not entirely agree."
In Tuscaloosa, Ms. Hamill was addressing a Sunday school class last fall at the blueblood First Presbyterian Church when teacher Bob Montgomery, a pharmaceutical salesman, argued that it's not the state's job to help the oppressed. That's up to churches and charities, he explained. "My tithe goes to the poor," he told Ms. Hamill.
Later that morning, during the regular church service, Mr. Montgomery heard Pastor Charles Durham deliver an impassioned call for tax reform based on Ms. Hamill's article. "It took a law professor to open my eyes," Rev. Durham proclaimed, pointing to her in the pew. A few weeks later, Ms. Hamill ran into Mr. Montgomery at the grocery store.
"What can I do to help?" he asked her. "Write an op-ed," Ms. Hamill replied. Mr. Montgomery's account of his conversion, headlined "What Would Jesus Do About Alabama's Tax System?" was published in late January in several Alabama newspapers.
Write to Shailagh Murray at
(c) Dow Jones & Co.
Use this web page for academic purposes only.
Obituary of Frank Johnson
by Paul Mielke, spring 2009
In the 1990s the American South entered a strikingly
new phase in its thirty year experience with two-party politics.
During the first two-thirds of the decade, the Republican party, the once-despised northern party that prosecuted the Civil War and engineered Reconstruction, emerged for the first time in a stunning advance as the South’s majority party in major state elections.
The solidly Democratic South, with its roots in racial segregation vanished long ago at the presidential level when President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat, introduced his civil rights initiatives prior to the 1948 election.
At the state level the one-party Democratic monolith did not begin to crack until the late 1950s.
Then in the sixties it crumbled completely at the national party, over the loud protest of Southern Democratic leaders with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The two party South took root between the late 1960s and the late 1980s which frustrated southern Republican Party builders during this time period.
In 1970, for example, Republican U.S. representative William E. (Bill) Brock III, heir to Brock candy-manufacturing fortune, narrowly retired long-term Democratic U.S. senator Albert Gore, Sr., in a campaign during which Brock exploited white racial resentment.
Middle Tennessee, with its relatively strong New Deal Democratic tradition, frequently held the balance of power in statewide elections as the Volunteer State experienced a series of close two-party contests in the 1970s.
In 1974 Republican Lamar Alexander, a former assistant in President Richard Nixon’s White House, lost the governorship to a Democrat, Ray Blanton, who went out of office four years later in disgrace and eventually went to prison on corruption charges.
The Democratic Party’s reversal of fortune came in the 1990s which included its stunning triple defeat in the 1994 statewide elections.
Wallace, who carried the white backlash nationwide in his third-party presidency candidacy in 1968, dominated Alabama politics for much of the next two decades.
Wallace prevented the early formation of the standard ideologically divers, black-white Democratic coalition in Alabama and retarded the early growth of the Republican Party.
In 1980 Alabama elected its first Republican to the U.S. senate since reconstruction.
Wallace in a November election faced Republican mayor of Montgomery, Emory Folmar, who had relations with African Americans and defeated Folmar with 59.6 percent of the vote to the Republican’s 40.4 percent, amassing 90 percent of the African American vote in the November election.
The race issue in Mississippi prevented the early formation of the biracial coalition that was so important for southern Democratic success elsewhere.
Mississippi was so weak that it failed to field a gubernatorial candidate in 1971; the white Democratic nominee that year was opposed by an African American independent, Charles Evers, brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who won 22.1 percent, mostly from black voters.
Although black and white Democrats had managed to agree on a unified biracial state party structure in 1976, black voters did not support the party’s 1978 white senatorial nominee, whose 31.8 percent of the vote came from the party’s white wing.
During the 1980s black-white tensions in the Mississippi Democratic Party were contained long enough for several key statewide Democratic victories, but Republicans remained confident that the long-term partisan trend in Mississippi favored them.
The Republicans still hold many of the high cards as the Democrats try to work their way back up the ladder and Democratic success hinges on hitting the right note in Tennessee, which several of its recent major candidates have failed to do.
In the 1990s the two party competition has settled throughout Tennessee.
- In 1996 the Republican party won every statewide race on the general election ballot, including an open U.S. Senate seat, a Democratic controlled state supreme court seat, two open U.S. House seats, and three other appellate court posts.
Lamis (ed) Southern Politics in the 1990s
Chapter 8 – Alabama: The GOP Rises in the Heart of Dixie
Maegan McCollum, Spring 2007
o Between the ’94 election and March ’98, 53 Democratic office holders—including Richard Shelby (one of Alabama’s U.S. Senators) along with the Secretary of State and two appellate court judges—jumped to the GOP party. Republican officials boasted that no other state except Texas had a higher number of party switches over the same period.- The 1986 gubernatorial election was the last campaign in which most voters believed that whoever won the Democratic nomination was certain to become the state’s governor.
o The conflict came together into a primary battle between Lt. Governor Bill Baxley and Attorney General Charlie Graddick for the Democratic nomination.- In 1994, Fob James won the gubernatorial race as a GOP against incumbent Jim Folsom Jr.
o Baxley was the most liberal candidate—supported by key Democratic groups like the AEA, labor unions, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and black political action groups like the Alabama Democratic Conference.
o Graddick, a former Republican who switched to Democrat in order to have a political career outside of his home county Mobile, was a tough talking candidate. His strong support for the death penalty earned him the nickname “Charcoal Charlie.” While he kept his distance from the Democratic Party, he entered the primary with the backing of business groups and Republicans who already had conceded the general election to Democrats.
o Graddick claimed a narrow 8,756 vote victory out of more than 930,000 votes cast in the second primary.
o Baxley and his supporters refused to accept his victory. Instead they filed a challenge saying that Graddick had violated party rules by encouraging Republicans who had voted GOP in the 1st primary to “cross over” and vote in the Democratic runoff.
o Party hearings and court rulings ultimately led to the decision that Graddick had in fact violated party rules and would be replaced as the Democratic nominee by Baxley.
o This violation of majority rule, undemocratic (in terms of democracy) action created an uproar within the state, shifting public opinion and support to the GOP candidate Guy Hunt.
o Hunt with 56.3% of the vote became the state’s 1st Republican governor since Reconstruction.
o Furthermore, in subsequent campaigns, the state’s news media would no longer concentrate solely on the Democratic nominating process as if it were the final step in electing a governor and other officials.
o The James victory included seven statewide offices for the GOP; more than twice the number they had won previously for the entire century.- In 1994, Jeff Sessions (GOP) won the position of State Attorney General instead of the Democratic incumbent.
o They also won state auditor and agricultural commissioner, and even a state appeals civil court seat in which the Republican contender had raised only a hundred dollars.
o Republicans gained 11 seats in the state legislature. The redistricting scheme designed to give blacks enough House and Senate seats to mirror their 25% share of the state’s population was partly the cause of some veteran Democrats decisions not to run for re-election—they saw themselves in re-drawn districts which were more likely to vote Republican or for an African American primary opponent.- The mid-1990s GOP breakthrough caused more state and local Democrats to jump the fence.
o One of Alabama’s U.S. Senators, Richard Shelby, also announced he was switching to the Republican Party.
o The class partisan division is reflected by the distribution of party identification among the state’s citizens.
o As the state’s population has become whiter, more urban and suburban, and more middle class in terms of education and income levels, so too has it become more Republican.
o One important factor in the competition between the two parties is the number and quality of new faces recruited by each.
o Former Democrat executive director La Pierre explains that for years, “Democrats were recognizable faces voters were comfortable with. Those names are not there anymore, and there’s nobody out there that they’re comfortable with.”
o Furthermore, the relative ability of the parties to govern will be a crucial factor.
o No that Republicans are in numerous high ranking positions within the state government, “how well they perform in the eyes of voters will undoubtedly affect their party’s fortunes.”
Southern Politics in the 1990’s can be described as the rapid confluence of twin, related movements:
(1) The settling in of two-party competition, especially during and after the 1994 elections.I. The Two-Party South in the 1990’s
(2) The two-party system reunited with the nation’s political mainstream.
- Clinton v. Dole showed demographic consistency when their 1996 election recorded 87% to 10% for the Democratic candidate in reference to the Black south vote; in addition, Clinton gained a 10% edge in the female vote.G. In Georgia during the 1996 election, Clinton and Dole maintained their respective supporters- the Democratic Party contained more lower income voters, liberals, and those who were not considered a part of the religious right. Dole and the Republican Party received the majority of votes from the high-income bracket, conservatives, and those who considered themselves members of the religious right.
- Earl Black and Merle Black described the occurrence an economic expansion in the 1990’s that spawned a “new middle class” of professional, technical, managerial, administrative, sales, and clerical positions. In turn, these people became receptive to the conservative economic message of the Republican Party.I. The advancing Republican Party in the South remained divided between the Christian Coalition and moderates.
- The quiet partisan struggles that are fought in the rural, small-town counties will be at the forefront of the next generation of partisan growth, especially in the less populous southern states where metropolitan suburban Republican strength can carry the GOP only so far.
- The current phase of the conservative Christian movement grew out of the unsuccessful GOP presidential nomination campaign of televangelist Pat Robertson in 1988, which led to the creation of the Christian Coalition in 1989.J. The issue of race within the region was aptly characterized as “the moose on the table,” a quote from North Carolina’s white former Democratic Secretary of State, Janice Faulkner. This reference illustrates the resentment toward civil rights in America held by both the Blacks and the Whites.
- The Christian conservatives’ chief asset was organizational ability; the Republican Party organization was dominant in 8 out of 11 southern states and even outsiders like California and Oregon.
- Regardless of the cohesiveness of the religious right, as the GOP continues to grow in the South, management of the intra-GOP factional split poses a serious challenge for the party.
- Black-white relations in the southern party system fall into two related categories: between the two parties and within the biracial Democratic Party coalition.K. Two caucus members quoted in South Carolina disagreed with the idea of a party bolt. Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg said: “That’s not reality-based. The Republican Party might entertain our ideas to get us in there, but drop them once we got there.”
- A few political theorists have even suggested that eventually the South will have a nearly all-Black Democratic Party to go with its nearly all-white Republican Party, but the idea seems too far-fetched.
- A perspective from South Carolina noted the conflicting biracial alliance: “Black Democrats have long observed that their white fellow Democrats, while more than happy to win election to political power with the votes of black citizens, have been more than a little reluctant to share that power once in office.”
- Representative Willie McMahand, a black Democrat from Pinewood, South Carolina, also shared the same view: “We vote seemingly along racial lines, not party lines. That’s just the way the House operates. Very few Democrats support Blacks. Why? Racism. I don’t see anything else.”
- Further, although North Carolina’s two new black-majority districts were declared unconstitutional before the 1996 elections, a three-judge panel allowed the use of the existing lines in 1996.N. The successful southern Democratic Party of the mid-1990’s is epitomized by moderate coalition-builders with good instincts for issues with broad popular appeal, such as Governor Miller’s lottery-based Hope scholarship program in Georgia.
- Finally, in August 1997, Alabama’s 67 percent black-majority Seventh District became the last of the new districts to draw a court challenge, but the plaintiffs withdrew their suit six weeks before a scheduled May 1998 trial date.
- Thus, despite the challenges, South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama still had Black-majority districts with their African-American incumbents prohibitive favorites for reelection.
- Tom Slade, the Florida Republican leader, assessed recent reapportionment action in the Sunshine State this way: “Blacks and Republicans have joined together in an unholy alliance to do in the White Democrats, and we have succeeded. We have been spectacularly successful.
- These southern Democratic leaders stress fiscal responsibility, support public education, favor welfare reform, and promote efforts to fight crime.O. Another area of biracial accommodation is developing as Democrats show interest in promoting balanced slates of statewide elections.
- “The mix that seems to work for Democrats in Tennessee is one of cultural conservatism with a leftward tilt on pocketbook issues,” wrote Congressman John Tanner.
- A few days after the 1994 elections, an Atlanta Republican consultant, White Ayres, was quoted directly on this point: “What’s happened is that young, aspiring White politicians will now see their route to positions of power in the Republican rather than Democratic Party.Q. A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee official expressed his party’s hope for Dixie’s GOP this way: “The silver lining in the South is the Republican Party continues to lurch to the right. And if it keeps on lurching, it’s going to leave the bulk of voters who are moderate, mainstream voters uncomfortable with their agenda.”
- “The GOP ranges from Brooks Brothers-attired bankers sipping a fine Merlot at the country club to Scripture-quoting fundamentalists who drink nothing stronger than sweet tea.”
- A Louisiana Republican who has been in the thick of that state’s intra-GOP battles, former state Senator Ben Bagert of New Orleans, explained the situation: “It’s a question of emphasis…Instead of having a civil war, we ought to go out and beat up on the Democrats.”R. Another obvious challenge for the GOP faces as it advances in the South is the responsibility for governing. The Republican Party has occupied the governorship in every southern state so far except Georgia.
II. The Nation and the South: Toward the
A. In examining U.S. political history since the formation of mass political parties in the 1820’s, James L. Sundquist identifies three major realignments:
(1) The first, the Civil War-era realignment actually occurred in the mid-1850’s, in the years leading up to the start of the bloody sectional conflict in 1861.B. The era of national Republican dominance culminates in the 1920’s with the three consecutive victories of the GOP’s standard-bearers in the decade’s presidential elections: Warren G. Harding in 1920, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and Herbert Hoover in 1928.
(2) Then came a major reshuffling in the 1890’s, culminating in the critical 1896 election when the Democrats and Populists under William Jennings Bryan failed to make common cause with their natural allies- laborers in the cities of the East- and were decisively beaten.
- By 1900 an all-white Democratic Party in the South had constructed a one-party system in the eleven states of the former Confederacy with the overriding purpose of maintaining white supremacy.
(3) The last realignment period starts in 1964-1965 and lasts for almost thirty years.
- At the start of the economic boom of the 1920’s, President Harding summed up the GOP’s confidence: “This is essentially a business country. We hear a vast deal about ‘big business,’ but the big business of America is nothing but the aggregate of the small businesses. That is why we need business sense in charge of American administration, and why the majority of America has for more than a half a century been a Republican majority.”C. Overall, the programmatic liberals replaced the Democratic Party’s old image and leaders in the North, gave the party new life and electoral victories into the 1960’s, and, in the process, brought politics into general conformity with the national cleavages begun by FDR’s New Deal at the presidential level.
- Roosevelt’s leadership during the Depression crisis gave the party system a pronounced class division it had not had before the 1930’s. Under FDR, the Democratic Party came to be viewed as the champion of the working class.
- The Republicans held to the traditional view of a limited role for the federal government in the nation’s economic and social life and favored reliance on the forces of an unfettered market to provide prosperity. Roosevelt let the Democrats to the embrace of an activist federal government aiming at helping “those who have less.”
- As FDR’s popularity increased and the realignment continued through his 1936 landslide reelection, voters realized that the New Deal Democrats in Washington bore little resemblance to the Democratic parties in their states and localities, which were still anchored in the pre-1932 mold.
- At this juncture, the Democratic Party thus became both the home of Blacks in the North and the party of white supremacy in the South.E. A series of “crosscutting” issues disrupted the New Deal party system starting in the tumultuous decade of the 1960’s.
- Likewise, the “Social Issue,” as the domestic disruptions associated with “racial strife, Vietnam, and crime and lawlessness” came to be labeled, diminished the Democrats’ electoral base.G. With the end of the Cold War and the decline in significance of national security issues, a part of the Democratic stigma faded.
- Crucial numbers of voters- in the white urban and suburban neighborhoods of the North, and across the South- were, in addition, deeply angered and distressed by aspects of the expanding rights revolution.
- Thus, as the New Deal cleavages worked their way into the southern partisan scheme, the newer cleavages of the Twenty-Five Year’s Realignment were also flowing into Dixie’s new party system.H. As institutions, parties enjoy a general disrepute, yet most of the democratic world finds them indispensable as instruments of self-government, as means for the organization and expression of competing viewpoints on public policy.
- Considering the nation’s four top elected officials as of mid-1998- President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Senate majority leader Trent Lott- were all from the South, northerners might be forgiven for concluding that the South had rejoined the national political mainstream a little too exuberantly.