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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frances Farenthold, December 14, 1974. Interview A-0186. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Texas politics from 1948 to 1974

Farenthold talks about the changing political landscape in Texas since 1948. According to Farenthold, aside from a decline in overt racism, little had changed in Texas politics in terms of power. Arguing that business interests and wealth still held the power in Texas politics, Farenthold specifically cites the actions Governor Dolph Briscoe and Senator Lloyd Bentsen as indicative of the lack of true political change.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frances Farenthold, December 14, 1974. Interview A-0186. 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:
In the period that we are looking at, from 1948 until 1974, what major changes have taken place? In Texas politics?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Not much. We have seen one thing . . . I am now referring to the legislature, but I think that you can refer to this in a broader thing. I asked my husband, who was serving there in the 50's, and I was serving there in the 70's, he came up to see me and I said, "What difference do you see in the legislature?" He said, "There is less racism." And I would say generally that the visibility of blacks and browns is there where it wasn't back then. If I could point to one . . . and that may not be standardized all over the state, either, but I would say that. Not where power is and that kind of thing.
WALTER DE VRIES:
There has been no basic shift of power?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
I don't really think so.
WALTER DE VRIES:
That should mean that big wealth still pretty well takes the nomination of statewide office?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Sure.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Some people say that they don't do that anymore, they just exercise a veto over it. They will defeat you.
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
Well, what's the difference? They can defeat you unless you appear to be amenable. So what is the difference? I don't really feel that I am at liberty to discuss my lawsuit against the present governor, but in tracking things, we see where it is much the same power base. I am not at liberty to discuss it, but it has come back full force to me one more time.
JACK BASS:
Is that the purpose of that lawsuit, to demonstrate that point?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
No. (laughter) The purpose is to see that the people who claim to be reformers live up to it.
JACK BASS:
You mean specifically referring to the governor of this state?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
That's right, and then campaign financing. We talk about house bill 4, you know, everybody patting themselves on the back and this same old process, the same old corporate practices continue.
JACK BASS:
How do you evaluate Lloyd Bentsen? Both as a Senator and as a potential presidential candidate?
FRANCES FARENTHOLD:
I have absolutely no time for him and I may be so colored in my own thinking that I can't properly evaluate him. I know where he comes from, what he represents and how he got to where he has. I mean, to see Bentsen do it is nothing new. I just feel very deeply about it, and maybe I am not being realistic in this and the kind of campaign that he waged in 1970. This is not the first time that you have seen Texans come in with the business support and then move to the left for national consumption. I just hope that the rest of the country doesn't fall for him.