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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jesse Helms, March 8, 1974. Interview A-0124. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Politicians must be honest

Helms doubts that there will be a political realignment in North Carolina until politicians start being honest with their constituents. George Wallace attracted support in the state because he projected a straightforward image.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jesse Helms, March 8, 1974. Interview A-0124. 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

JACK BASS:
Do you see a re-alignment developing in North Carolina? Where do you see the conservative Democrats in North Carolina going? And by conservative Democrats I think I'm really speaking of the kind of Democrat that you see in eastern North Carolina.
JESSE HELMS:
Well, I think that . . .
JACK BASS:
Who frequently, say, votes for George Wallace, who has a large following in the east.
JESSE HELMS:
Well, I think that Governor Wallace is a symbol to a vast number of people in our state. I don't necessarily say that they're conservatives or moderates or liberals. I simply say that they are frustrated, because what they want, in my judgment, is somebody who will tell . . . who will level with them. Whether they agree with him or not. But who will tell them what he thinks and what he will do, and then do it. And George Wallace comes through as a man of that image. I'm sure that a lot of people who don't fully agree with George Wallace voted for him, simply because they felt that they could rely on his word. I hope, of course, that some of them voted for me for that reason. And . . . to answer your question, I don't think there's going to be any re-alignment until there is a persuasive force in the political life of our state, that can get across this message that I'm going to tell you the truth, and I'm going to do what I say to the best of my ability. Now, whether the Republican party can do that, or whether the Democratic party can do that, I don't know. It remains to be seen.