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17 April 2014

For #ThrowbackThursday, a 35-year-old Mail Piece from Herman Talmadge to a Black Voter in Macon

In 1979, former Georgia Governor and United States Senator Herman Eugene Talmadge sent the mail piece shown below to a black voter in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia.

The black voter is a member of my family, and lived in Macon's historically black Pleasant Hill community.

History remembers Senator Talmadge as a segregationist who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I think Talmadge was just a politician.

The simple truth of politics is all those who gain power are afraid to lose it. Politicians frequently pander to their constituencies in order to maintain the power they gained after their first election victory. Senator Talmadge, in this case, was very clever at following the passions and prejudices of his constituency to stay in power for twenty-three years.

When Talmadge was first elected Georgia's Governor in 1948, he was a staunch supporter of racial segregation. Why? Because most of the people of Georgia were staunch supporters of racial segregation; and that's how you got elected in the South back then. When Talmadge lost his final election in 1980, the man who voted against the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act received seventy percent of the black vote.

An oft-repeated story about former Alabama Governor George Wallace is that after he lost the 1958 Democrat gubernatorial primary, Wallace swore he would never be out-niggered again.

"You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor," goes a quote attributed to Wallace.

Politics, ladies and gentlemen, is all about out-niggering your opponent.

If your opponent wants to invest $1 million in schools, you say, "Let's invest $2 million in schools."

If your opponent is against gay marriage, you introduce an amendment to the Constitution to ban gay marriage -- then dare your opponent NOT to support it.

If your opponent is a crook, you say, "I'm the most honest person who has ever lived!"

That's how you win elections, folks.

Herman Talmadge was just a politician; a politician who was very clever at saying and doing whatever it took to maintain his power.