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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dale Bumpers, June 17, 1974. Interview A-0026. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hopes for southern Democrats falling back in line with the national Democratic Party

Bumpers ruminates about what he'd like to see accomplished six years down the road. Having just been elected as senator for the state of Arkansas in 1974, Bumpers suggests that during his first term in office, he'd like to see southern Democrats become part of the national Democratic Party again. Specifically, he discusses what this hoped-for realignment would mean for someone like George Wallace, whom Bumpers argues should be treated as any other political candidate, in spite of his incendiary reputation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dale Bumpers, June 17, 1974. Interview A-0026. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

GOV. DALE BUMPERS:
I'd like to be able to say that the South has rejoined the national Democratic party. And I think it will.
JACK BASS:
What do you think would be the best strategy for the national Democratic party in regards to George Wallace? In 1976.
GOV. DALE BUMPERS:
To treat him like they would any other candidate. After all, this is a democratic system, it's a representative form of government. And for the national Democratic party, which is essentially the national Democratic committee, between elections, to say that we are or are not going to treat George Wallace in a certain way, I think would be a serious mistake. I think they would to accept him and treat him as they would anybody else. There's a 10-15% strong, very vocal minority in the Democratic party that would like to read George Wallace out of the party once and for all. But, you know, that's like some fellow deciding on the front end who's a presidential nominee that he's going to ride the [saddle?] off the front end. I can tell you categorically that any candidate who in the future says that I'm writing off 150 electoral votes on the front end is going to have a difficult if not impossible time being elected president. And I think it would be the height of folly for the national Democrats to write George Wallace off. He has a constituency; he has a philosophy that a lot of people identify with. And whatever he's able to do with it, let him do with it. But to judge him ideologically and subjectively is a mistake. Treat him the same as they would any other kind of candidate who avows himself to be a candidate seeking the presidency. Is the only way to treat him.