Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics 1942-1950

By William D. Barnard | Go to book overview

3

THE DEMOCRATIC ASCENDENCY:
Sparkman, Folsom, and Hill

The dominant motif in all the explanations of Folsom's victory was the desire of the electorate for change, a desire met by neither the conservative Poole nor the old progressive Ellis. Folsom's youth, the hope he engendered among the masses, the faith in a brighter future he kindled led to his triumph, not his liberal ideology, the Birmingham News believed. Folsom had won while Luther Patrick, the C.1.0.-endorsed incumbent Congressman from Birmingham, had lost to a youthful, inexperienced G. I. The News saw nothing enigmatic about Folsom's victory and Patrick's defeat. Both were evidence of "a tremendous desire for simple political solutions in a time of great complexities." Neither Folsom, nor Patrick's successful foe, relied on "specific ideas as to how to attain the objectives they urged. They promised to do better jobs than had been done. They implied that what mattered most were the fundamentals of intention, the honest purpose, the right hope." Charles Feidelson, the perceptive editorial columnist for the News, agreed that ideology had played no significant part in Folsom's victory. "There is a political cycle just as there is an economic cycle," he wrote. "A time comes when the groundswell seems to have set in so that the mood of the people is turned against the 'ins,' without reference to the quality of the 'outs.'" 1

Other analyses of the election ran in a similar vein. Neil O. Davis, the liberal editor of the Lee County Bulletin, who had supported Handy Ellis in the run-off, felt that Folsom was "a genius at knowing the people's mind and [had] diagnosed, as none of the other candidates could, the hopes and aspirations of the small farmers, the country storekeepers, the rural school teachers, the thousands of workers who labor in overalls and white collars." Folsom knew that "the people are restive and want a change. He knows enough history to understand that such a restless frame of mind comes always with the dislocations of war." He knows,

-46-

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