Zell Miller is no Scoop Jackson

A Dixiecrat is a different animal.

Pejman Yousefzadeh seems to think that Zell Miller had something in common with Scoop Jackson. That’s a mistake.

Jackson was an economic and social liberal, especially on civil-rights issues, who was also a Cold War hawk (unsurprisingly given the role of Boeing in the Washington State economy back then). I wasn’t among his admirers, but his position was a clear and honorable one.

Zell Miller quite another, and far less honorable, beast. He is a Dixiecrat: that is, a social and economic conservative hawk who carries the Democratic Party label. Outsiide Georgia, most of the Dixiecrats — Trent Lott, for example, and his hero Strom Thurmond, and his protege Charles Pickering — moved to the Republican Party as the Republicans switched from being the pro-black party to being the anti-black party.

Miller was the runningmate of the frankly racist Lester Maddox. (Maddox got his political start as a restauranteur who distributed ax handles to his white customers to be used on the persons of any blacks who came to eat at the restaurant). Commenting on Lyndon Johnson’s civil-rights agenda in 1964, Miller said that Johnson had “sold his birthright for a mess of dark pottage.”

There’s still room for liberal and moderate hawks in the Democratic Party: Bob Graham, for example, or Wes Clark, or Joe Lieberman. Thank God, there’s no longer room for Zell Miller and his ilk. Good riddance to bad rubbish, and I wish the Republicans joy of their purchase.

Update and correction It turns out that Miller wasn’t ever a real Dixiecrat. He was merely willing to race-bait to get elected, and angry with LBJ for endorsing his opponent.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “Zell Miller is no Scoop Jackson”

  1. Pondering the bounce

    I’ll admit I was about the last person who would have predicted a large convention bounce for the incumbent—heck, I’m on record predicting a narrow Kerry victory, and that was largely predicated on Bush receiving about the same bounce…

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