LETTER: The more things change, the more they stay the same

To the editor:

“The last Gallup poll shows the strength of liberals and conservatives is about even in the U.S. today. But, interestingly, the conservatives hold a 51-49 percentage point edge.” Indeed, in 2018, that is the precise numerical split by which Republicans (conservatives) hold the U.S. Senate over Democrats (mostly liberals). The quote, though, is from a Daily Journal editorial published on Jan. 14, 1963.

Sometimes it seems as if the further that time passes, the more things seem to stay the same. The editorial mused, though, about a possible “basic realignment of the traditional two parties,” with the ultimate goal of changing our presidential voting procedure so that the popular vote reflects the electoral vote. Political observers argue that, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, realignment of the traditional parties did evolve; not so much that latter goal, however.

A romp through old newspaper files, en route to other searches, turned up even more.

An Oct. 21, 1981 RCDJ editorial could have virtually been ripped from current news with different party labels. The decennial legislative district realignment, following 1980’s census, came with the usual shenanigans by solons in Raleigh, i.e., protecting incumbents of the party in power. The state NAACP challenged that realignment proposal. While courts would permit variants, up to 10 percent, of citizens-to-representatives ratios within districts, those variants were exceeding 20 percent.

“They chose to ignore that fact and the census figures and draw up a political plan designed to protect the seats of incumbents”, the Journal scolded. They noted a special session to clean things up would cost Tarheel taxpayers $25,000 a day.

International religious controversy drew some local involvement in 1951. The Pee Dee Baptist Association’s annual session, meeting at Cartledge Creek Church on Oct. 23, 1951, went on record opposing President Truman’s plan to appoint a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. The session’s presiding officer, a minister from Wagram, advised Congressman C. B. Deane Sr. — the session’s clerk — “Inform our fellow Baptist Truman he isn’t Baptistic on that point. We intend to fight this thing until it is down for all time.”

Rep. Deane had just returned from still-recovering Europe, and was striking a different chord. America should “export love and affection along with material gifts,” he urged. The Baptists’ session reflected national sentiment for the intermediate future, though, as the U.S. would not have an official representative to the Holy See for 17 years.

Douglas Smith