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George Wallace: American Populist de Stephan…
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George Wallace: American Populist (edició 1995)

de Stephan Lesher (Autor)

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On a July afternoon in 1987, when Jesse Jackson stopped in Montgomery, Alabama, to pay his respects to former governor and presidential candidate George Wallace, a profound sense of irony surrounded the event - a sense of history having come full circle. That scene - the civil rights leader sitting down with the former segregationist - is the point of departure for Stephan Lesher's masterful George Wallace: American Populist. Wallace first captured the national spotlight. At the University of Alabama, personally obstructing a federal segregation order. As the governor used his resultant notoriety to argue for "getting the government off the backs of the people," to berate the Washington establishment and the hypocrisy of the "limousine liberals," and to voice the frustrations of the middle class in the face of academic and governmental elites, his critique was obscured by the racist taint, and what would become his true political legacy. Was overshadowed. For unbeknownst to his more urbane critics, George Wallace was setting the national political agenda for the remainder of this century. In electing Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and even Clinton, Lesher argues, the American people have voted for Wallace's ideas in gentrified form in every election since 1968. For good or ill, Wallace has not only become mainstream, it was he who diverted the nation's course. As such, in Lesher's view, he emerges as the. Most important loser in the history of presidential politics. In telling the Wallace story, Lesher brings to life what C. Vann Woodward calls the "burden of Southern history," placing Wallace and the sentiments he exploited in the context of Reconstruction and the long struggle, not just of black Americans, but of the white Southern poor as well. By tracing Wallace's rise from the rural poverty of Depression-era Alabama, Lesher allows us to see the whole, complex picture. Of a small-town politician who had always stood up for "ordinary folks" regardless of color, but who then made the most of racial division when it became politically expedient to do so. But Lesher is by no means out to excuse Wallace on race. His intent, like that of Wallace's own most potent rhetoric, is simply to not let the rest of us off so easy - as if by having our villains all bad, we ourselves might have some greater claim on goodness. Like Eyes on the Prize or. Parting the Waters in mirror image, George Wallace recreates the drama of Montgomery, of Selma, of Birmingham, and of Tuscaloosa ... only from the vantage point of those resisting change. It shows us the dark side of ambition, and the darker reality of American politics, where, in Lesher's unblinking view, such revered leaders as Jimmy Carter and Hubert Humphrey did no better than Wallace on the matter of race when forced to choose between principle and political gain. Written by a journalist who covered the governor and maintained a respectfully adversarial relationship with him for over thirty years, George Wallace is a political biography of startling insight based on the author's wide experience and unique access. It is a book that celebrates America's capacity for resilience and growth, and one that is filled with compassion for all who suffered through a turbulent era.… (més)
Membre:j51t
Títol:George Wallace: American Populist
Autors:Stephan Lesher (Autor)
Informació:Da Capo Press (1995), Edition: Reissue, 624 pages
Col·leccions:Per llegir
Valoració:
Etiquetes:to-read

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George Wallace: American Populist de Stephan Lesher

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Engrossing portrait of a figure more complex than prevailing impressions make clear. The author argues that Wallace defined an audience, and a pitch to that audience, that have figured in every campaign since 1968. Though GW was an avowed segregationist as Governor of Alabama, his national appeal rested less on racism or segregation than an assault on the federal government and the perceived intrusion of elites in local affairs, as well as the pressure of the powerful upon the "little guy." Should be required reading for anyone interested in modern American politics. ( )
  steve.lane | Nov 28, 2015 |
George C. Wallace came up the hard way. He was desperately poor and 'scrambled for any job that literally might earn him a few pennies. At the same time, everything he did was with an eye toward future political power. Even as a youth, when one job required traveling all around the county inoculating dogs for rabies, he was making friends and winning potential votes. Many remembered him years later and voted for him in droves. In some ways he was quite progressive. As a first-term legislator he sponsored and ramrodded a bill to provide low cost vocational post-secondary education for blacks and whites (separate of course) and many of the issues he favored were populist in nature.

In WW II he enrolled as a cadet to learn to |fly but wound up as a flight engineer on a B- 9 flying several missions over Japan toward the end of the war. Most flights were routine but they had several close calls with engine fires and other mechanical difficulties. Finally he had enough and refused to get in an airplane. His colonel, who could have had him court-martialed, instead sent him to the base hospital where he was diagnosed with battle-fatigue. Forever after he was white-knuckled on every campaign flight.

Stephan Lesher’s biography of Wallace brings Wallace and his role in American politics very readably to light. Wallace will be forever recalled as the man who enshrined racism as a political stratagem. Clearly everything he did, every hand he shook, every statement he made, was intended to get him elected to office. The man lived politics, and during the sixties attacking civil rights was good politics in Alabama.

Wallace argued then and later in 1930 that to take any other approach was political suicide. “It was not any of my making. . . .It was political suicide to offer any moderate approach. . . Alabamians are gullible for that kind of thing. . . .Give the people something to dislike and hate, create a straw man for them to fight, they’d rather be against something than for something. As long as our people are of that frame of mind and like their politics with that brand, then we’re going to have people to take advantage of that kind of situation.” And he did with a vengeance.

It also clear from this biography, that Wallace’s residential campaigns tapped a deeper malaise in the electorate as the votes he garnered during his presidential campaigns reveal. Many of his issues were used successfully in successive campaign by both Republicans and Democrats: prohibition of school busing for integration, school prayer by constitutional amendment, tax reductions for the middle class (to be paid for by taxing church-owned property, and law and order, to name few. In fact, Kevin Phillips considered Wallace as “the first national tax-revolt leader [and] the man also in the vanguard of so many other populist causes.” Lesher reiterates that no president was elected between 1963 land 1992 “without clearly embracing and articulating. ... the Wallace issues. . . .George Wallace’s wish to be rehabilitated by history may or may not be realized - but history already has substantiated his idea of history.” ( )
1 vota ecw0647 | Jun 1, 2014 |
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On a July afternoon in 1987, when Jesse Jackson stopped in Montgomery, Alabama, to pay his respects to former governor and presidential candidate George Wallace, a profound sense of irony surrounded the event - a sense of history having come full circle. That scene - the civil rights leader sitting down with the former segregationist - is the point of departure for Stephan Lesher's masterful George Wallace: American Populist. Wallace first captured the national spotlight. At the University of Alabama, personally obstructing a federal segregation order. As the governor used his resultant notoriety to argue for "getting the government off the backs of the people," to berate the Washington establishment and the hypocrisy of the "limousine liberals," and to voice the frustrations of the middle class in the face of academic and governmental elites, his critique was obscured by the racist taint, and what would become his true political legacy. Was overshadowed. For unbeknownst to his more urbane critics, George Wallace was setting the national political agenda for the remainder of this century. In electing Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and even Clinton, Lesher argues, the American people have voted for Wallace's ideas in gentrified form in every election since 1968. For good or ill, Wallace has not only become mainstream, it was he who diverted the nation's course. As such, in Lesher's view, he emerges as the. Most important loser in the history of presidential politics. In telling the Wallace story, Lesher brings to life what C. Vann Woodward calls the "burden of Southern history," placing Wallace and the sentiments he exploited in the context of Reconstruction and the long struggle, not just of black Americans, but of the white Southern poor as well. By tracing Wallace's rise from the rural poverty of Depression-era Alabama, Lesher allows us to see the whole, complex picture. Of a small-town politician who had always stood up for "ordinary folks" regardless of color, but who then made the most of racial division when it became politically expedient to do so. But Lesher is by no means out to excuse Wallace on race. His intent, like that of Wallace's own most potent rhetoric, is simply to not let the rest of us off so easy - as if by having our villains all bad, we ourselves might have some greater claim on goodness. Like Eyes on the Prize or. Parting the Waters in mirror image, George Wallace recreates the drama of Montgomery, of Selma, of Birmingham, and of Tuscaloosa ... only from the vantage point of those resisting change. It shows us the dark side of ambition, and the darker reality of American politics, where, in Lesher's unblinking view, such revered leaders as Jimmy Carter and Hubert Humphrey did no better than Wallace on the matter of race when forced to choose between principle and political gain. Written by a journalist who covered the governor and maintained a respectfully adversarial relationship with him for over thirty years, George Wallace is a political biography of startling insight based on the author's wide experience and unique access. It is a book that celebrates America's capacity for resilience and growth, and one that is filled with compassion for all who suffered through a turbulent era.

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