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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Allen Bailey, [date unknown]. Interview B-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Local and national priorities clash in Democratic Party

Local Democratic Party leaders have ruined the party in Charlotte, Bailey believes, because they cleaved too closely to the national party's message, ignoring local priorities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Allen Bailey, [date unknown]. Interview B-0066. 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

BILL MOYE:
Now, sort of to change a little bit. I believe you have said at one time that maybe the Boy Scouts are probably as influential as the local Democratic party. Something like that. Indicating that the party is rather inept. [unclear] . . . so much splintering (maybe?).
ALLEN BAILEY:
Well, it is. There really is no Democratic party. Whenever I speak of party, I'm talking about organization as such in Mecklenburg County. Now, there're a great number of people who are interested in politics and interested in the Democratic party. But there is no one, or has been no one at the helm of the Democratic party who either has the ability or the desire, he may have the desire but doesn't have the ability or vice versa . . . to pull the groups together, work toward a common goal. That is the way that it has been. That's the way that it is.
BILL MOYE:
Who do you see as . . . pull the groups together . . . Who are the competing groups? I presume there must be sort of a conservative side and something of a more liberal side . . . Is it that crystallized, or is it sort of a nebulous . . .
ALLEN BAILEY:
I don't think it's necessarily that crystallized. I think this about the failure of the Democratic party in Mecklenburg County. I think that there is, and has been, a great difference between the Democratic party on the national level and the Democratic party, or the thinking of the people on the state level. I think, by and large in Mecklenburg County, those that have been within the framework of the Democratic party, who are it's so-called leaders, have destroyed the Democratic party by trying to follow the philosophy of the national Democratic party to which the people on the local level cannot be led, would not be led. And, instead of remaining loyal to the Democratic party, they have become disorganized, disenchanted . . . little or no faith in the leadership of the Democratic party. Many, many of them, all you have to do is look at the vote, find out how many Republicans are registered here and find out how many Republicans vote. (M: A lot more Republicans vote in the general election . . . ) Than there are registered, certainly. So, there's no question but what a tremendous amount of Democrats are and have been voting Republican. Now, you can criticize those people all that you want to. You can say that the Republicans register Democratic. I've heard that! (M: So they can vote in the primary?) So they can vote in the primary. Well, that's not true. There are people who would like to be loyal to the philosophies of the Democratic party that they knew and that does not exist anymore.
BILL MOYE:
It's moved away?
ALLEN BAILEY:
It's moved away from them, and they do not and have not followed it. They have found the Republican party and its candidates more palatable, and for that reason, they've been voting Republican. They have seen the Republican candidate as more representative of their views than they have the Democratic candidates. It's just that simple.
BILL MOYE:
Who are some of these people that you see as pushing the national line? Are they . . . I presume there are whites as well as blacks in the part of the party that push . . .
ALLEN BAILEY:
Yeah. Well, 'course, all you have to do is go back and find out who the leadership of the Democratic party, the so-called leadership of the Democratic party has been over the last several years. I hate to name names and so forth, but that is in fact the case.
BILL MOYE:
The primary in '64 seems to have been quite a . . . perhaps a turning point. I'm wondering, maybe both locally and statewide in a way because you had a fairly liberal candidate, you had a pretty much middle-of-the-road, and you had a fairly conservative, and it seemed to sort of split the party pretty much. I know here in Mecklenburg Mr. King, Ray King, who had been chairman of the Democratic party, (B: Quit.) resigned that and ran the Preyer campaign.
ALLEN BAILEY:
Which was a . . . you know . . . In so far as the Democratic party was concerned is . . . I think the party was forgotten. Any man that . . . elected to leadership in a party and then resigns in the middle of an election . . . to take on a candidate, in my humble judgment, forsakes his party. I think that, as much as anything else, struck the death knell of the Democratic party in this county, and it's been going down ever since.