Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Let's put the jam on the lower shelf so the little people can reach it"

Some folks who serve in high places are politicians, others are statesmen. "Let's put the jam on the lower shelf so the little people can reach it," was spoken by Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough who served that state from 1957-1971. Contrast that thought with the 'compassionate conservatism' spoken of by Texas President George W. Bush. The politician merely throws around phrases whereas the statesman actually backs up his statements with action.

'What's the Matter with Texas?' ought to be the sequel to Thomas Frank's, 'What's the Matter with Kansas?' about the 180 degree shift in politics in that state. The Yarborough philosophy has been dumped in Texas and is now represented by John Cornyn, a far-right toady of George Bush. Rather than lowering the jar, Cornyn voted against renewing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance for the children of working families who can't afford private coverage but don't qualify for Medicaid.

Cornyn apparently expresses the views of many Texans as his re-election is not in doubt. Interestingly, Cornyn scores in the single digits in the Project Vote Smart category Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. Enough of this ultra-conservative Republican as he is typical of most if not all southern Republican senators.

What is praiseworthy about Senator Yarborough is that he was unique among southern Democratic senators in 1964. Of the 21 southern Democrats, only Yarborough voted FOR the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In fact, he had been voting for civil rights throughout his time in the senate. Those other southern Democrats, it is to be noted, left the Democratic Party after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Johnson, himself a Texan, knew that by signing that bill 'his party out loose the South for a decade.' Or four decades.

Today Texas is solidly red with Republicans in office throughout the entire state, tightening their grip on the state through Karl Rovian gerrymandering of the voting districts to favor Republicans.

Texans like Yarborough have been replaced by sordid folks like John Cornyn, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Alberto Gonzales, and Karl Rove and the rest of the bunch of slick politicos that George Bush brought with him to the White House. One thing is for sure: during the 7 years of the Bush Administration, "the jam jar has been put on the highest shelf so the rich people can reach it."

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