Richmond Flowers, attorney general of Alabama, told Harvard-Radcliffe Young Democrats yesterday that the Democratic organization in his state was moving toward a "state of chaos and doom."
Flowers, one of the few officials in his state who have publicly declared support for the Johnson-Humphrey ticket, said Democratic candidates in Alabama have refused to discuss social legislation passed by the national party in their campaigns but have attempted to "outpreach the Republicans' racial bigotry positions."
Support for Goldwater is overwhelmingly strong in Alabama, Flowers said. "It's becoming a social thing to call oneself a conservative." Democratic candidates are doing nothing to quell Goldwater's support; a few are devoting part of their campaign to teaching constituents how to split their ballots.
Describing Alabama voters as deluded by "false hopes and promises they will all return to cotton plantations amid sweet magnolias and honeysuckle blooms," Flowers attributed Alabama's Republican support to a mistaken belief that Goldwater would not enforce integration legislation but would "maintain and improve Democratic social reform programs."
Flowers' Lonely Stand
Flowers said that forces of racial hate and bigotry have become so strong that he is considered a renegade for speaking out for "law and order." Flowers estimated that a good 20 to 30 per cent of the state's voters supported his "rational and moderate" position. Adding that this group has yet to publicly agree with him, he expressed hope that they would, "because it's getting a little lonesome out here by myself."
Alabama Young Democrats and certain Taft Republicans are opposed to the direction of the political campaign, he said. Young Democrats are working now "under a cover of darkness," Flowers said, to reconstruct the Democratic Party after its almost certain defeat in November.
Alabama's system of unpledged electors, which makes it nearly impossible to vote the Johnson-Humphrey ticket, is having a sobering effect on some Alabama voters, Flowers said. "Some are now saying maybe we went too far," he added.
Flowers blamed Alabama's governor, George Wallace, for much of the racial tension in the state. He described Wallace's efforts to halt school desegregation as "demagogic and accomplishing nothing."
Since Flowers' position is an elective and not an appointive one, Wallace has been unable to bring pressure on Flowers to prevent him from speaking out. The Governor has unsuccessfully attempted to pass legislation limiting the powers of the attorney general's office.
Flowers does not face re-election this year.