“Master of the Senate” is about LBJ’s rise to power in the Senate
during the 1950s. It is an amazing story. Johnson was a methodical
and calculating ass licker and sadist. It’s is difficult to
understate that story. He would enter a community, figure out who were
the powerful old men, particularly the lonely ones, in that community and then proceed to suck up to them until they gave him power. Then he would turn around and use that power to demand that those below he brown their noses.
Johnson wasn’t a man of high principle; but he was one of strong low principles. He was enthusiastic about to using the weaknesses and principles
of others to manipulate them. The 1950s were an excellent time to do just that.
The old racists were looking for somebody to hand off the flag to. The young liberals were looking for somebody in the south they could talk to.
There have always been two powerful dialectics in American politics:
race and commercial regulatory power. While Master of the Senate
would be a better book if it had something to say about the second
dynamic the issue of race is the interesting story of that period.
The single most significant shift in American politics of the last
50 years was the realignment of the race card. Entering this period
the Republicans were on the side of large economic entities and against
the smaller economic entities; in particular labor. Meanwhile the
Democrats drew much of their power from the south and the southern
democrats were racists. Exiting this period the flag of anti-civil;
the fear that “others” would destroy one’s sacred culture had passed
to the Republicans and the Democrats had lost the South. Johnson rode
on the power released by that realignment.
If you don’t want to believe that the Republicans now carry the racist flag
then you should suffer thru this TV Ad from a
Republican cantidate for congress in today’s election. It is a
horrible classic example of how leaders use hate speech to sharpen the
boundries around their group. The kind of speech that leads over time
Johnson played the power inherent in that dialectic to a T. First he
convinced the old racist democratic senate chairs that they were to him
“like a daddy.” They handed him the power to run the Senate. Meanwhile
he convinced the northern liberal senators that he was one of them, that
he was their best hope to get something, anything, that would finally bring the vote to southern blacks.
When it became clear that no Southerner would ever be president
without making progress on civil rights Johnson turned on his patrons.
Over the next decade the power of the federal goverment was used to
deliver a modicum of civil rights to the southern blacks and the
Democrats lost the South. No wonder Walmart came out of Arkansas. No wonder “For black men in their mid-thirties at the end of the 1990s, prison records were nearly twice as common as bachelor