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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Orval Faubus, June 14, 1974. Interview A-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Increasing banality of politics

Faubus sees some political stagnation in Arkansas and the nation at large. Idle voters are electing leaders who say little and do less, and politicians who take strong positions, like J. William Fulbright, lose their jobs as a result. Faubus embraced Fulbright's strategy as a politician, taking potentially unpopular stands on certain issues in order to get results.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Orval Faubus, June 14, 1974. Interview A-0031. 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

WALTER DE VRIES:
How about changes in the Democratic party?
ORVAL FAUBUS:
Well, I think the changes in Arkansas at the present time more or less fit the pattern nationwide. We're in a period of inflation. It's pretty tough on working people and small business people. You know. They got increased income and its continually increased. But the bills are increasing so rapidly that it's hard to take it in fast enough to pay the bills. But so long as they're busy doing that, that's their primary concern. Now if they get unemployed and have time to sit down and study they're going to start pressing whoever they think's responsible for their difficulties. But they don't have much time now, to think about their difficulties or the origin of them. So long as they can work, get the money, pay the bills. And then of course we're paying taxes and no one else has any reason to be discontent. The old people are fairly well taken care of. You have your modern nursing homes for those who want to go there. The others are living on the checks which they get. Welfare, food stamps, social security. Workers get unemployed, they have unemployment insurance which is more lavish than it's ever been. Young idlers, middle aged, of all kinds, if they don't have work all they have to do is go in the welfare office and get a bunch of food stamps. They can live out of the grocery store just as well as those people who are working. So under those conditions, which are nationwide, it seems there's a tendency to vote for the candidates who say nothing. I mean you do a lot of talking. They will. And they're very glib at it, to use one of my father's old expressions. But when they get through you can't really pin anything concrete that they have said for or against anything or what they're going to do about this problem. They'll mention a problem, but they don't offer a solution. And if they say they'll do something about it, they don't say how. Now this is what Fulbright suffered from in his race with Bumpers. Fulbright's always been a specific man. He doesn't just criticize. For the most part he offers solutions. The only time that I know of when he offered what he said was a solution was to the Vietnam war. You know, he said negotiate. But how do you negotiate if the other fellow won't negotiate? It takes two to do that. So he criticized the war but he didn't offer any solution except that. But for everything else he'd come up with something specific. A plan. How to handle it. And he'd take a stand on various issues. So he suffered from that record. Every time you take a stand you displease someone. Those who are pleased will forget it a lot more quickly than those who are displeased. And so he gathered his critics over the years and then reaped the rewards in the last election. I'm in more or less the same boat. Because in 12 years as governor you have to make an awful lot of decisions. And every time you make a decision, if it's controversial and there's very few things that aren't a little bit controversial, you displease someone. For a time you can favor all the big dams that they are building and displease very few. A few landowners that had to give up their property. But then that grew very controversial. So I blocked the dam on the Buffalo river. Displeased a lot of people. And we'll save save it as a national river. The others are coming up now very controversial. The one over in Saline county. Belle Folley. Cash River unknown. Well, my opponent in the last election avoided taking a stand on any of them. As did Gov Bumpers. And I guess they were pretty. . . . You know, you have to keep up with the times. It's kind of like the old mariners trimming their sails to the wind. You don't set them for a gentle breeze if it's a storm blowing. And I guess they were wiser than Fulbright or myself. So that's what I see right now in politics. The bland politics, as one national man called them, are doing much better than those who are willing to face the issues and say how they stand and offer a solution. Now, what the results will be when you come to a time of accounting, that's another question. We haven't come to that yet.