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December 16, 2002
WHAT THE DIXIECRATS BELIEVED: One of Lott's lamer defenses is that the Thurmond candidacy was about federalism and individual liberty. It's lame because, well, it's a lie. Here's what Dave Kopel has to say:
There were five major sections of the Dixiecrat platform, one of which denounced "proposed FBI powers," and featured frantic warnings that the Democrats and Republicans both wanted to impose a totalitarian police state. In the platform's final section, "New Policy," two of the eight platform items further condemned "the effort to establish nation-wide a police state in this republic." (The Smoking Gun has an online version of the final section; TSG's version is from a state convention, and differs in some small ways from the final section of the official platform.)
Now if Senators Thurmond and Lott had adhered to this particular language of the 1948 platform, things might indeed be better in this country. But to the contrary, the Dixiecrat concerns about a police state appear to have existed solely in the context [of] federal efforts to secure civil rights for black people.
Jim Henley, who also has a link to the Dixiecrat platform, observes:
It's dispiriting to see so much talk of constitutionalism and individual liberty and opposition to enlarging the federal police power - all things that mean a great deal to me - so...befouled by their inclusion in this document, one whose fourth through sixth points make it clear that all those principles meant to them was the power to bring the full weight of state and local police power down on black chests. It's a theme, the contamination of your beliefs by odious people who hold a version of them, that I've had occasion to consider this weekend at length.
One thing alone cheers me up: their patent insincerity about constitutionalism and individual liberty and federal police power. Reading this document, you can be pretty sure that a Thurmond Administration would have enthusiastically swung the power of the federal government toward preserving segregation. You can imagine Thurmond directing J. Edgar Hoover to deal with "outside agitators," resegregating the army and passing latter-day "fugitive slave" laws to force states outside the region to support southern efforts to retard or reverse civil rights. (Viz. the Dred Scott decision, which, taken to its logical conclusions, would essentially have re-instituted slavery in the antebellum North.)
Thurmond, et al., weren't friends of federalism or liberty. They were racists who posed as friends of federalism and liberty -- and by doing so, brought disregard on the very things they claimed to honor. Much as some other people have done in the name of "equality."