Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: Democrats and Republicans over the Years

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: Democrats and Republicans over the Years

Article excerpt

My late father-in-law, John Rains, asked me if The Tuscaloosa News was a Republican or a Democratic newspaper.

I didn't know how to answer him. I was editorial editor and a firm Democrat, but my preferences weren't always those of the newspaper. We had an editorial board with diverse opinions, freewheeling meetings and lots of discussions. We endorsed candidates and ideas associated with both of the main parties (and some that the main parties both shunned).

I knew where my father-in-law was coming from, however. He lived in Mobile but spent most of his life in Nashville, where the Tennessean, which at one time employed a young Al Gore (and his wife, Tipper), was considered a Democratic newspaper and the afternoon Banner was Republican.

In fact, the Banner's original name was The Nashville Republican Banner. (The Banner ceased publication in 1998.)

To this day, I don't know how I would answer my father-in-law's question. The Tuscaloosa News has an editorial page but no editorial editor. It publishes a fair share of conservative -- OK, Republican- leaning -- columnists but also some written by people with Democratic sympathies. It no longer endorses candidates. Its locally written editorials are pretty much nonpartisan.

I don't agree with some of the changes -- I always thought that a newspaper's editorial pages were its heart -- but then, I'm old school. And I have been retired for a few years.

It's hard to pin partisan labels on things anyway. I had a high school teacher who held that the Republicans became the Democrats and the Democrats became the Republicans.

It's really not that simple, but it is true in at least one respect. Republican President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863, but blacks later gravitated toward the Democrats. By the late 1960s, Republicans were well on their way to becoming "the white man's party."

The truth is stranger still. George Washington decried partisan politics, but the Federalist party emerged early in this country's history. It was opposed just as quickly by a second party, led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and called the Democrat- Republicans (what a name! …

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