Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Centennial Happy Warrior

Rick Perlstein's fine remembrance of Hubert Humphrey.

Humphrey made his national political debut in 1948 when, as mayor of Minneapolis and a candidate for Senate, he headed the Minnesota delegation to the Democratic National Convention. There he led a faction insisting the platform include a federal fair employment commission, a controversial goal of the civil rights movement.

Segregationist Southerners threatened to walk out, a move that could have paralyzed the entire fragile Democratic coalition and handed the White House to the Republicans. The Democrats’ first presidential defeat in 16 years might have been laid at the feet of this ambitious 37-year-old.

Humphrey could have been excused for quietly backing down. Instead, the man who had earned the nickname the Happy Warrior gave one of the greatest speeches in American political history.

“To those who say this civil rights program is an infringement on states’ rights,” he thundered from the convention podium, “I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

The motion carried. The Southerners walked out and ran Strom Thurmond for president. When Harry S. Truman won nonetheless, Democrats were on their way to becoming the party of civil rights. Hubert Humphrey catalyzed that change.


Anonymous said...

He was the first Senator I ever knew, the first one I ever voted for. He was a great man who made the world a better place and never let never once let the bastards get him down.

While his loss was bad for us he is lucky to have not lived long enough to see the fucked up mess we have made of the country and the weak-ass-panty-waste "leadership" of his party

pansypoo said...

can we blame the gnews?

StonyPillow said...

If he had only said "HELL NO!" to LBJ.

Anonymous said...

I was a college student and heard him speak on our campus one evening. I can't recall if he was running for something, or what he spoke about, but I recall he spoke eloquently and forcefully and inspired me to rush up to him afterwards and thank him profusely for his inspiration.
It was before he was even vicepresident. He was great! Then came Kennedy, the assasination, LBJ, war, and something became broken due to his loyalty. Misguided or not, he was hurt bad. vox

Anonymous said...

I saw him speak on the Kent State University campus during the 1968 Presidential election, as the Democratic presidential nominee. The happy warrior could not have been a more apt nickname. He bounded onto the stage and lit the place up. Great man, one of my heroes.

When was the last time you saw a republican on a college campus. Or anywhere significant for that matter. Only in carefully controlled "events".