Hope that the GOP will "stand for principles"
Helms describes how he sees his role in the Republican Party. He hopes to convince his fellow Republicans to "stand for principles," although he does not explain what these principles are. He seems worried that his party is capitulating to political pressure, and perhaps even drifting leftward. He accuses Democrats of essentially buying votes with public assistance programs, and hopes to expand the Republican Party by touting its core beliefs instead of pandering to ethnic voting blocs.
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:
Insofar as the Republican party in North Carolina is concerned, how do you view your role in the party?
- JESSE HELMS:
Well, I think my first duty is to be as effective a senator in espousing and defending the principles which I believe. I don't want a faction in the Republican party. I don't want to control the Republican party, and I've never done anything to indicate otherwise. But if I have a role in the Republican party, I hope it is one of persuading all Republicans that we have got to stand for principles. That we can't be honest, let alone win an election, by being a little bit liberal than the Democrats. We can't be all things to all men. We have got to take our stand. Now, if I can to any degree persuade the of the Republican party that this is the way to go, in terms of being intellectually honest and politically successful, that I accept that role, if I can do it.
- JACK BASS:
What do you see as the formula for growth of the Republican party in North Carolina? There're two patterns that we keep hearing, talking to the Republicans throughout the South. One is the talk of re-alignment, attracting conservative Democrats who are uncomfortable in the Democratic party. The other is broadening the base of the Republican party by attracting blacks, by attracting urban moderates, they usually refer to. By expanding their base in that direction.
- JESSE HELMS:
Well, I think it's sheer folly to try to expand the base on any ethnic ratio. I would hope that we would expand the base by attracting all people, whatever their race, whatever age, religion, and all the rest of it, who share the fundamental concerns of what I believe the Republican party should be . . . I think we should take our stand, win or lose, and let it all hang out. If we try to cajole and compromise, that's the road to defeat. The Republican party has no future because the Democratic party has demonstrated through the years, for a generation now, that it intends to
buy votes any way that they can be bought. These give-away programs, welfare and all the rest of them. Now, I don't want to be a Republican, a successful Republican, on that basis. I would rather be a private citizen. The Republicans may as well make up their mind that the left-wing spectrum has already been pre-empted. It's not available to them. Furthermore, if they . . . even if they could move in there, it would be intellectual dishonesty.