Tag: George Wallace

The Twenty-Four-Year Itch Revisited

 

24 FlagIn a piece posted two weeks ago, “Donald Trump and the Twenty-Four-Year Itch,” I claimed to have seen this movie before more than once: Twenty-four years ago, when Ross Perot led an insurgency, and twenty-four years before that when, as a cub reporter, I covered the George Wallace campaign as it unfolded in Oklahoma. It was my contention, then, and is my contention now that, in American politics, things tend to come apart roughly every 24 years — which is to say, once a generation — when a neglected part of the electorate erupts in fury at our masters in DC.

In the interim, I have found myself musing about the Trump phenomenon time and again, and I am prepared to defend the following hypothesis — that something of the sort has recurred every quarter-century or so in this country now for nearly 250 years.

In 1776, for example, there was a real revolution directed at our masters in London. In 1800, there was, so Thomas Jefferson tells us, a second revolution, when his Republicans ousted the Federalist Party from power. There was another such event in 1824 when Andrew Jackson outpolled John Quincy Adams. That development did not reach fruition until 1828 when he replaced Adams, but the writing was on the wall in 1824. The era in which the grandees of the revolutionary generation dominated American politics was over.

Donald Trump and the Twenty-Four-Year Itch

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.38.22 AMThis morning, I voted in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary, and I returned home to read in Erasmus’ Adages in preparation for tomorrow’s class. But before I settled down with book in hand, my mind began a-wandering, and I realized that I had seen this movie — or something very much like it — before.

Forty-eight years ago today, George Wallace won the Michigan Democratic presidential primary, and 24 years ago, Ross Perot appeared on the scene. Strangely enough, I have a sharper memory of Wallace’s campaign than of Perot’s. I did not live in Michigan then. I was a freshman at Cornell and had recently begun writing an opinion column entitled “O Tempora, O Mores” for The Cornell Daily Sun. I was then, as I am now, a political animal, and I watched with wonder the primary season unfold.

I was, in those, days a left-liberal. I had been swept up in the Kennedy mania in the wake of JFK’s assassination. I did not like the Vietnam War, and I favored Eugene McCarthy. Those were the days! I was nineteen. The girls were enticing, and nearly everything that I read was fresh and new.

The African-American Answer to George Wallace

 

A few days ago, an article appeared in Pravda-on-the-Hudson reporting that pollsters had told the White House that if there is not a huge African-American turnout on the first Tuesday this November, the Democrats are cooked.

In the meantime, there have been leaks from the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury investigation. Darren Wilson is said to have testified that Michael Brown attacked him in his police car and went for his gun, that he fired at him twice at that time, and that, when he emptied his gun into Brown, the young man was charging at him on the street.