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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond, July 20, 1978. Interview A-0334. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southerners are more patriotic and desirous of a limited federal government

Thurmond's <cite>The Faith We Have Not Kept</cite> discusses the importance of a literal interpretation of the Constitution and of the decentralization of power. Thurmond believes Southerners are especially equipped to succeed with these values, though President Carter did not give the best example. Overall, southerners' patriotism shows in features like the small number of union strikes among public employees.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond, July 20, 1978. Interview A-0334. 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

JAMES G. BANKS:
You wrote that book, The Faith We Have Not Kept; what prompted it really. You wrote it in sixty six I think.
STROM THURMOND:
Yeah, I wrote it I believe in sixty six. Well, I just thought it would be well to put it in writing my views of the constitution.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Time's come. I mean, any incident that just; that does it.
STROM THURMOND:
I just thought it would be well because the federal government then, and before then had been encroaching on the rights of the states, it had been usurping more power, centralizing more power here in Washington. And I wrote that with the hope that if people read it maybe they would see the dangers and try to reverse this flow of power. And when Nixon ran for president I remember he told me in Atlanta, when I was down there with some southerners to talk with him in the summer of 1968;he says, there are several things I want to do. He says, the first is I want to appoint sound people to the Supreme Court because they'll be here after I'm out of this presidency and if we can get sound people there it'd probably be the most important thing I can do. And the next thing is, I want to reverse this flow of power. He says, it's all been going to Washington. There's too much power going to Washington. We ought to reverse that flow of power and turn it back to the states as the constitution provides. Then he mentioned several things, but I recall that those were the two things that he mentioned specifically at that time.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Even though President Carter is of the opposite party, aren't you just a little bit proud that a southerner is in the White House?
STROM THURMOND:
Yes I am proud a southerner is in the White House. And I was hoping he'd make a really good record, although I didn't support him, because that would give credence to other parts of the country that a southerner can be a good president. But I've been disappointed in his actions. When he ran, he made statements about this and that, and he hasn't lived up 'em. I've been disappointed in him. I think, for instance, in the matter of defense;now, he wants to cut this ship program in half. Stop the B-1 bomb. He doesn't deploy the neutron warhead; they call it a neutron bomb, it's a warhead. He wants to negotiate away the cruise missile. Well I hope he's not, now he wouldn't; these Soviets in my judgement, are going to take the world unless we take a strong stand to stop 'em. We're the only country can do it. We've just got to remain strong militarily.
JAMES G. BANKS:
There's one book that we've been reading in the seminar that a young man wrote in 1941. He was on The Charlotte Observer. His name was W. J. Cash. The book was called Mind of the South. Have you ever read it or heard anything about it?
STROM THURMOND:
No I haven't read it.
JAMES G. BANKS:
In that book, almost all books since seem to go back to Cash. Because he talks about the southerner, the southern mind, southern attitudes. And I was hoping you might have heard about it because it's a very significant book.
STROM THURMOND:
You might get that book, David. I'd like for you to read it and give me a report on it. (phone call) Call back and tell her that I' interviewing the man here now and I'll be through in about fifteen minutes.
JAMES G. BANKS:
So anyway, I can't really ask you about it. But I'll just take the title, do you think there is a southern mind. Because he talks about the mind of the South and things that are distinctly southern, the way the southerner looks at things, attitudes, values.
STROM THURMOND:
Well I think we've got good people in all parts of the country. But I still go back to the fact that I think it's the most patriotic part of the country. Now I don't say it because I'm from the South. I think it's because we haven't had all these immigrants come down with different ideas and theories and some of 'em to contaminate in their own way. But at any rate I still think that it's the most patriotic part of the nation. I think it's the soundest thinking part of the nation. And I think that's been evidenced by they haven't allowed these unions to come in and take over like they have in some places. And we haven't had strikes of public employees like they have in some places. I'm bitterly opposed to public employees striking. I think any man who works for the public should never strike. If he doesn't want to take the pay the public offers, well he can get some other job.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Would you agree with Calvin Coolidge, you know he said in the Boston police strike, it's against the interest of the people to strike any time, any where, for any reason, if you're a public employee.
STROM THURMOND:
That's right, I agree with that. Collective bargaining, I think, should not be carried on by a public employee. Don't think there ought to be any union of public employees. I'm interested in the people and I don't think your interest in the people is served best when you have a group like the unions working;the unions are all right in private employment; but not in public. At any rate, I think the South has avoided some of the pitfalls. And I don't know if its due to principles, but I think it may be because we haven't had the false leaders down there that they've had in some parts. Maybe there hadn't been the attraction, there hadn't been the corruption, there hadn't been the bribery, there hadn't been so many things that had taken place in other parts of the country. I think the majority of 'em love their country, they worship god and, the family life is sounder although it's not what it could be. But families are held together better, generally speaking. And they feel an interest in each other;if you go down in the South, the people are friendly, most any of 'em will talk to you on the street. They'll give you any advice, help they can. If you break down in an automobile, they'll stop and help you. Well, you just don't find that in a lot of places in other parts of the country.