On Thursday, December 5, 2002, Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott said: "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, Strom Thurmond ran for president as the segregationist
candidate. That is not to say that support for segregation was among
Thurmond’s positions. Strom Thurmond’s candidacy had no other
issues besides support for segregation and opposition to federal
anti-lynching laws. Thurmond favored governments at all levels using force
to violate the rights of black people, and opposed the Federal government
protecting the rights of black people to not be killed by mobs while local
authorities tacitly approved. By his statement, these are the positions
that Trent Lott, apparently, is proud of.
Trent Lott says that if the rest of the country had voted for Strom
Thurmond, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems.” The only possible
interpretation is that Trent Lott regrets the defeat of the positions of
Thurmond’s campaign. Trent Lott regards the end of segregation and the end
of lynching as “problems” which we, as a nation, shouldn’t have had. At
least Thurmond had the sense to change his position over the years. It
would seem Lott has not.
Trent Lott, as Republican Senate Majority Leader, has never been a
particular friend of individual rights. He has acted as a stereotypical
politician, bending with every wind and shifting with every tide. Now,
however, he has pledged allegiance to a doctrine which is anathema to
individual rights, to the United States Constitution and to the vast
majority of Americans. This cannot be explained by political expediency. It must be his genuine conviction.
The question for the Republican Party is whether a man who gets misty
eyed over lynchings and colored water fountains represents
the Republican Party and whether such a man is fit to lead the Senate
Republican caucus. If such a man is fit to serve as a leader of the
Republican Party, then the Republican Party is the party of racism. If the
Republican Party aspires to be the party of individual rights, then such a
man has no place in the party leadership.
The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism calls for the resignation
of Trent Lott from the leadership of the Republican Party. If Lott doesn't
have the grace to resign, his peers should remove him.