‘Never seen anything like it’: Daughter of infamous racist George Wallace warns that Trump is even worse
When segregationist George Wallace ran against Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey on the American Independent Party ticket in the 1968 presidential race, he was so overtly bigoted that he made even Nixon’s more racist supporters uncomfortable. Nixon, in fact, feared that Wallace would split the right-wing vote and cause Humphrey to lose the election. Peggy Wallace Kennedy, his daughter, is now 69 — and she sees a lot of her late father in President Donald Trump.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kennedy said last week when speaking to a group of teachers at the Birmingham Public Library in Alabama. “I saw Daddy a lot in 2016.”
Kennedy didn’t mean that she literally saw her father in 2016; Wallace died in 1998 at the age of 79. Rather, she meant that Trump’s 2016 campaign reminded her of the 1968 campaign of her father, whose infamously declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Trump, sadly, didn’t abandon racism after his 2016 campaign. In fact, he recently doubled down on it by telling four Democratic congresswomen of color (Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts) that they should return to the countries they originally came from even though three of the four were born and raised in the United States.
“Unfortunately, it does look like the ‘60s now,” Kennedy told the teachers in Birmingham. “Each of us individually need to act with compassion and pray for our democracy. I hope we don’t go back. But it looks like where we are slipping…. that seems to be where the top is taking us.”
Kennedy has written a book that addresses her father’s political career and the United States’ troubled racial history: “The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation,” which is scheduled to be released later this year.
Looking back on her father’s infamously racist 1968 campaign, Kennedy recalled, “The two greatest motivators at (my father’s) rallies were fear and hate. There was no policy solution, just white middle-class anger.”