STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

CNN debunks Trump's racially charged ad

CNN's Tom Foreman debunks a campaign video tweeted by President Trump that depicts the caravan of migrants heading toward the US from Central America as criminals.

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 6:41 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 6:55 PM

Fifty-two years ago, President Lyndon Johnson warned the nation not to be seduced by proponents of a white backlash. Less than 48 hours before the 1966 midterms, just like today, LBJ saw in the electorate a noxious mix of white anger, hatred and resentment.

Back then, the white backlash had taken form in response to the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles one year earlier as well as to an open housing bill that his administration was trying to push through Congress aimed at eliminating racism in the sale or rental of property.

Speaking to reporters at a televised news conference in Fredericksburg, Texas, on November 6, Johnson read from a prepared statement in which he explained, "I can think of nothing more dangerous, more divisive, or more self-destructive than the effort to prey on what is called 'white backlash.' I thought it was a mistake to pump this issue up in the 1964 campaign, and I do not think it served the purpose of those who did. I think it is dangerous because it threatens to vest power in the hands of second-rate men whose only qualification is their ability to pander to other men's fears. I think it divides this nation at a very critical time -- and therefore it weakens us as a united country."

Though LBJ had been a product of the South and had opposed civil rights legislation earlier in his career, he had come to fully embrace the cause of civil rights with a religious zeal, pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 while serving as Senate majority leader and then as President moving the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through the Congress.

The President, who was frustrated that the accomplishments from his Great Society were at risk in 1966, didn't hold back when speaking to the reporters. "I think that the so-called 'white backlash' is destructive, not only of the interests of Negro Americans, but of all those who stand to gain from humane and farsighted government. And those that stand to gain from humane and farsighted government is everybody. Nevertheless, there are those who try to stimulate suspicion into hatred, and to make fear and frustration their springboard into public office. Many of them do it openly. Some let their henchmen do it for them. Their responsibility is the same."

Johnson warned that, "Racism -- whether it comes packaged in the Nazi's brown shirt or a three-button suit -- destroys the moral fiber of a nation. It poisons public life. So I would urge every American to ask himself before he goes to the polls on Tuesday: Do I want to cast my vote on the basis of fear? Do I want to follow the merchants of bigotry?"

LBJ had his eye on the backlash that was taking place in many parts of the country, with special concern for Georgia, where Democrat Lester Maddox was running against Republican Bo Callaway for governor with naked appeals to angry whites. Maddox, who had received the support of the KKK, was famous for having waved a pistol at three African-American Georgia Tech students who he chased away from his whites-only restaurant, the Pickrick Restaurant, after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unfortunately, too many parts of the nation didn't listen to LBJ's warning, and we are still paying the price. The midterms -- which drew a record-high midterm turnout of 49% -- didn't go well for the administration. Although Democrats still controlled the House and Senate, Republicans had gained 47 seats in the House and three seats in the Senate. The GOP did well in Democratic bastions like Chicago, where some white, ethnic, working-class voters responded to the demagogues who warned that their property was at risk.

The conservative coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans who had blocked progress on liberal legislation since 1938, who suffered a major setback in LBJ's landslide victory in 1964, were back in full force. Conservatives also did well in state races, including Maddox who won in Georgia -- the state that today is once again ground zero for efforts to roll back the gains of civil rights through voting restrictions.

Even worse, the politics of white backlash did not disappear from the conservative landscape. The partisan appeals continued to white, protestant men, whose fear that the country was changing around them never went away. President Richard Nixon, who returned to the national landscape by campaigning on law and order for Republicans in the 1966 midterms, exploited these fears with his promises for "law and order" and a Southern Strategy that aimed to pick up formerly Democratic votes in Dixie by resisting civil rights.

During the 1980s, Republican campaign consultant Lee Atwater was a master at using this ploy, most famously with an ad in 1988 about a parole program in Massachusetts -- the home state of Democratic governor Michael Dukakis -- that allowed an African-American prisoner Willie Horton to go free for a weekend during which he escaped and later raped a woman and stabbed her husband. White backlash has continued to flare, such as with the birther campaign in 2011, where Republicans like Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the first African American president.

While the politics of white backlash have been a part of conservative politics since the 1960s, most mainstream political leaders refused to make this the centerpiece of the campaign and they pushed back against these elements of the electorate once the most heated parts of the campaign were done. They tried to build broad coalitions that revolved around issues like anti-communism and tax reductions rather than pure, undiluted hate.

Not this time. President Trump has made white backlash a defining character of his presidency.

This weekend, former President Barack Obama offered a similar warning as LBJ, arguing that the midterms were a test of the character of the nation. On Tuesday, Americans have a chance to send a strong statement, through hundreds of congressional races, that the toxic brand of backlash politics President Trump and many Republicans have peddled in the last month is not acceptable in 2018.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42281

Reported Deaths: 1540
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13568791
Ramsey5256233
Dakota271396
Stearns252319
Anoka2422111
Nobles16886
Washington128341
Olmsted127620
Mower9832
Rice8848
Scott8814
Clay61338
Kandiyohi5931
Blue Earth5752
Wright5395
Carver4942
Todd4032
Sherburne3695
Lyon3442
Freeborn3130
Watonwan2710
Steele2471
Benton2393
St. Louis23516
Nicollet20612
Martin1755
Winona14415
Goodhue1428
Cottonwood1410
Le Sueur1321
Otter Tail1141
Crow Wing11312
Pine1130
Chisago1101
McLeod1030
Dodge970
Carlton940
Polk903
Unassigned8838
Isanti830
Murray820
Chippewa811
Waseca780
Pipestone744
Douglas730
Itasca7112
Becker660
Morrison661
Meeker641
Faribault620
Sibley582
Jackson570
Pennington540
Beltrami530
Brown462
Mille Lacs402
Wabasha390
Renville372
Fillmore360
Rock340
Swift331
Grant320
Houston320
Yellow Medicine310
Roseau280
Redwood250
Wilkin223
Koochiching211
Norman210
Cass192
Lincoln190
Big Stone170
Kanabec171
Wadena170
Aitkin160
Marshall160
Clearwater130
Mahnomen131
Pope130
Stevens110
Hubbard100
Lake90
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle50
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35313

Reported Deaths: 751
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7538185
Woodbury334644
Black Hawk251959
Buena Vista173811
Johnson14798
Dallas140931
Linn139983
Marshall110019
Scott108410
Dubuque97823
Story8726
Pottawattamie83513
Wapello71531
Muscatine69345
Crawford6813
Sioux5050
Tama48729
Webster4285
Wright3991
Louisa36713
Jasper35417
Plymouth3525
Warren3331
Cerro Gordo3171
Dickinson3063
Washington2569
Hamilton2021
Boone1721
Clay1501
Clarke1443
Allamakee1384
Clinton1381
Mahaska11917
Shelby1190
Carroll1171
Bremer1167
Poweshiek1138
Franklin1120
Pocahontas1091
Des Moines1022
Emmet970
Cedar961
Henry933
Hardin920
Cherokee851
Marion850
Floyd822
Taylor810
Guthrie784
Monona780
Benton751
Jones721
Butler702
Osceola690
Sac680
Buchanan651
Calhoun652
Iowa631
Jefferson630
Harrison620
Hancock611
Jackson610
Humboldt601
Lyon600
Fayette590
Delaware561
Madison552
Lee542
Mills530
Palo Alto530
Monroe527
Clayton503
Winneshiek500
Grundy470
Mitchell460
Winnebago440
Davis431
Union430
Kossuth420
Howard370
Lucas354
Unassigned350
Chickasaw310
Greene310
Cass300
Worth250
Ida230
Keokuk231
Appanoose223
Page220
Van Buren210
Audubon181
Adair170
Ringgold161
Montgomery152
Decatur130
Fremont110
Wayne110
Adams80
Rochester
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 61°
Mason City
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 57°
Albert Lea
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 59°
Austin
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 57°
Beautiful day today, storm chances return Tuesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

25th Anniversary Jodi

Image

New MC Test Site

Image

Operation Dry Water

Image

CL Splash Pad Opening

Image

MC Fireworks Ordinance Change

Image

Roosters Base Ball Club of Rochester home opener cancelled

Image

Community garden helps feed people in need

Image

Autumn Ridge Church sees online viewership grow

Image

Sean's Sunday Weather

Image

Dave Main 10p Wx

Community Events