Walter Shapiro, a columnist for Roll Call, writes: “Compared to Donald Trump, George Wallace was understated and politically correct.”
From Roll Call:
The 1968 third-party presidential campaign of Wallace, the former segregationist governor of Alabama, has long represented the worst example of modern-day incendiary politics.
After examining the historical record, Trump’s rhetoric and demeanor on the campaign trail exceed even Wallace’s when it comes to vitriol and explicit hate-mongering.
“An American Melodrama” — a masterful account of the tumultuous 1968 campaign by three reporters from the Sunday Times in London — titled an entire section: “George Wallace the Man Who Talked in Code.” The authors explained, “What made Wallace acceptable in the North as no Southern politician had ever been was … because he had learned to adapt to Northern sensibilities one of the oldest devices in the Southern politician’s armory. He talked in code.”
Gone were the fiery appeals to racists such as his signature line from his 1963 inauguration as governor: “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” In its place was wink-and-nod rhetoric about states rights and pointy-headed federal bureaucrats. As Wallace claimed on “Meet the Press,” “There isn’t any backlash among the mass of American people against anyone because of color. There’s a backlash against big government in this country.”
The differences with Trump went beyond the use of code words.
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