John McCain opposed honoring Dr. King with a holiday.
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2008, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/
John McCain today brought his effort to reinvent himself for the general election to a new low by misleading the voters on his full record on a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. McCain tried to suggest that his opposition to a holiday honoring Dr. King was limited to his 1983 vote against a federal holiday. In reality, McCain maintained his opposition to it until at least 1989, voted against funding for the commission working to promote the King Holiday in 1994, and used divisive language about state's rights to defend himself. McCain even supported Republican efforts to repeal a holiday in his state in 1987.
1983: McCain Voted Against Law Creating National Martin Luther King Holiday. In 1983, McCain voted against passing a bill to designate the third Monday of every January as a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That was the year the holiday was passed into law, supported by 338 members of the House and 78 members of the Senate. [1983 House Vote #289, 8/2/1983; 1983 Senate Vote #303]
1987: McCain Supports AZ Governor's Effort to Rescind Martin Luther King Day as State Holiday. In 1987, Arizona Governor Evan Mecham rescinded "what he termed an illegal executive order by his predecessor, Democrat Bruce Babbitt, to establish a state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr." Speaking to the Arizona Teenage Republican Convention, when asked about Mecham's decision to rescind the holiday, "McCain said that he felt Mecham was correct in rescinding the holiday." [Washington Post, 1/14/1987; Phoenix Gazette, 4/13/1987]
1989: McCain Urged Lawmakers to Create State Holiday, But Expressed Opposition to Federal Holiday. In 1989, McCain expressed his support for a state law recognizing an Arizona Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. But, McCain said, "I'm still opposed to another federal holiday... but I support the (Arizona) Martin Luther King holiday because of the enormous proportions this issue has taken on as far as the image of our state and our treatment towards not only blacks but all minorities." [Phoenix Gazette, 5/2/1989]
1992: McCain Endorsed Proposition Creating State Holiday. "McCain endorsed Proposition 300, which would establish a paid state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr." [Phoenix Gazette, 10/28/1992]
1994: McCain Voted To Strip Federal Funding From the MLK Federal Holiday Commission. In 1994, McCain voted to prohibit federal funds for the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. The Commission was established in 1984 "to encourage the observance of King's birthday." According to Al King, head of the California chapter of the commission, the organization "helped keep 'senators' and 'representatives' feet to the fire to recognize the holiday." [1994 Senate Vote #127, 5/24/1994; Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/24/1995, 5/26/1995]
Ronald Reagan also opposed honoring Dr. King with a holiday. He recanted only after Congress passed the King Day bill with an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate). Remember--this is the man who opened his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered. Of all the places in this great country, why did he chose that place of dishonor?
In appearing at the fair, Reagan did something that neither conservative Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater or President Richard Nixon did. He was the first presidential candidate in the near century that the fair had been held to speak at the event. Indeed, he deliberately and calculatedly chose the Neshoba Fair to kick off his presidential campaign. When Reagan took the stage, with dozens of Confederate flags festooning the fairground, the crowd chanted, "We want Reagan." A beaming Regan shouted back, "There isn't any place like this anywhere." There was thunderous applause, and rebel yells.
Ronald Reagan was opposed to the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and characterized them as "...humiliating to the South."
This is the man whom the Conservatives have conferred sainthood on. Some saint. He was a calculating politician who knew how to play the Southern voters' fears and prejudices for votes.
Don't tell the Republicans. They're too busy worshipping a lie.
When Liberalism’s Moment Ended
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, April 4, 2008;
Forty years ago, American liberalism suffered a blow from which it has still not recovered. On April 4, 1968, a relatively brief but extraordinary moment of progressive reform ended, and a long period of conservative ascendancy began.
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the ensuing riots that engulfed the nation's capital and big cities across the country signaled the collapse of liberal hopes in a smoky haze of self-doubt and despair. Conservatives, on the run for much of the decade, found a broad new audience for their warnings against the disorders and disruptions bred by reform.
A shrewd politician named Richard Nixon sensed the direction of the political winds. When President Johnson's commission on urban unrest released its report in early 1968 and blamed the previous year's rioting on "white racism," Nixon would have none of it. The commission, he said, "blames everybody for the riots except the perpetrators of the riots." He urged "retaliation."
Nixon knew that his call for law and order was drawing working-class whites away from their alliance with the New Deal and the Great Society. "I have found great audience response to this theme in all parts of the country," Nixon wrote to former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It is easy to forget that the core themes of contemporary conservatism were born in response to the events of 1968. The attacks on "big government," the defense of states' rights, and the scorn for "liberal judicial activism," "liberal do-gooders," "liberal elitists," "liberal guilt" and "liberal permissiveness" were rooted in the reaction that gathered force as liberal optimism receded.
From the death of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 until the congressional elections of November 1966, liberals were triumphant, and what they did changed the world. Civil rights and voting rights, Medicare and Medicaid, clean air and clean water legislation, Head Start, the Job Corps and federal aid to schools had their roots in the liberal wave that began to ebb when Lyndon Johnson's Democrats suffered broad losses in the 1966 voting. The decline that 1966 signaled was sealed after April 4, 1968.
Liberals themselves share blame for the waning of their movement. Just because right-wing politicians used "law and order" as a code for race did not mean that concern about crime was illegitimate. On the contrary, the country was in the opening stages of a serious crime wave and had good reason to worry about rising violence.
Liberalism itself was cracking up in 1968. Liberals had turned on each other over Johnson's Vietnam policy. The old civil rights coalition splintered as advocates of racial integration warred with defenders of Black Power, a slogan voiced in 1966 by a young activist named Stokely Carmichael.
Martin Luther King left this earth at a moment of gloom, at least about the short term. "I feel this summer will not only be as bad but worse than last time," he said, four days before his death, in a sermon at Washington's National Cathedral. He was referring to the urban riots of the previous summer. And then came the days of chaos that followed his assassination.
"For those who had dreamed the dreams of the New Frontier, and shared the hopes of a Great Society, this was perhaps the darkest moment of the entire decade," wrote Godfrey Hodgson, a British journalist who stands as one of the wisest chroniclers of the 1960s.
Forty years later, is it possible to recapture the hope and energy of the days and years before that April 4? Has liberalism spent enough time in purgatory for the country to revisit how much was accomplished in its name and to acknowledge that the nation is better off for what the liberals did?
In "The Liberal Hour," an important new history of the '60s that will be published in July, Colby College scholars G. Calvin Mackenzie and Robert S. Weisbrot note that for all its deficiencies, the period of liberal sway "demonstrated what democratic politics can produce when public consensus crescendos, when coherent majorities prevail, and when skilled leaders provide direction, inspiration, and relentless energy."
For decades before the 1960s, conservatism was held in contempt by large swaths of the intellectual and political class. It was one of the great achievements of William F. Buckley Jr., whose death we mourned a few weeks ago, to insist that respect be paid to the great tradition whose cause he championed.
Now is the moment to put an end to our contempt for liberalism. There was business left unfinished on that fateful day in 1968, and it is time to take it up again.