As James Fulford points out, Jesse Helms' recent death, like his retirement, has produced a number of extremely vicious comments. The degree of the viciousness reflects the extraordinary success Helms had in defying conventional wisdom and political establishments, both in North Carolina and nationally. Well might Ann Coulter say Right-wingers should lead their lives to achieve such a nasty obituary in the NYT.
Credit is due to Gary D. Robertson of the Associated Press for an intelligent and thoughtful assessment: Helms never changed on civil rights opposition July 5th 2008
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)...Jesse Helms forever changed North Carolina politics and the conservative movement...There is perhaps no better example of Helms' unwavering commitment to his beliefs than on the issue of race. Helms was a staunch opponent of the nation's civil rights movement...He died Friday at age 86, having never seen any need to apologize or deviate from his views.
But, because the Cold War was so rapidly shovelled into the Memory Hole by the Democrats and liberal Republicans who were so totally wrong to advocate appeasement and retreat in that era, Helms' immense - and perhaps crucial - contribution to winning it needs to be stressed.
Helms' decision to back Ronald Reagan's upstart bid against President Gerald Ford in 1976 led the struggling California governor to an upset win in the North Carolina primary, setting the stage for his eventual White House win four years later.
"In one sense, the role that Jesse played in that one primary 32 years ago was key to electing a president... which was key to Reagan, which was key to America winning the Cold War," said Carter Wrenn, a longtime political operative in the Helms machine.
That is no less than the truth. And when Reagan came into North Carolina that March, having lost every Primary up to that point, his campaign was reeling. As the Wikipedia entry on Helms currently says
A massive grassroots effort formed by Ellis and backed by Senator Helms was able to deliver an upset victory in North Carolina...several contend that the intervention of Senator Helms and Tom Ellis arguably led to the most important conservative primary victory in the history of the Republican Party
(Tom Ellis was the long-time Helms manager in North Carolina)
Symptomatic of the fury Helms generated amongst his opponents is that Wikipedia's Helms entry is currently carrying the statement
Editing of this article by new or unregistered users is currently disabled due to vandalism.
There are lessons in the Helms history for VDARE.com and its friends. The first is, of course, that determination and a resolute will make a difference. In the Helms case, this was particularly vividly demonstrated at the North Carolina level, where absolutely none of the political establishment thought he or any Republican could win initially, much less win re-election four times.
The second is that the rare politician who sees politics as a matter of policies and principle, rather an electoral sport, is to be treasured. This is what made Jesse Helms great—like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Lastly, and perhaps most immediately important, Helms won five straight Senate races, against powerful candidates with huge funding from out-of-state liberals, by using the Sailer Strategy. Robertson remarks
He never won more than 55 percent of the vote, but his coalition of Republicans and so-called "Jessecrats" - conservative, white Democrats who voted for the GOP in federal elections - kept sending him back to Washington.
And quotes a professor making the profound misjudgment
"Helms operated as though African-Americans didn't vote," said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "He was unlike other politicians, who tried to expand their original basis of support. Helms never did that."
Helms of course, was perfectly aware the Black (and leftist) vote existed. He chose to deal with it by maximizing the white turn-out. He recognized that the interests of black and whites do not always coincide, and that whites wanted representation. He was prepared to give it to them.
Hence the brilliant—and morally totally justified—anti Affirmative Action "Hands" advertisement. And it is said that his lonely and valiant opposition to the Martin Luther King Holiday (which unquestionably came from the heart) was also popular at home. North Carolinians intuitively realized that elevating to sainthood a black politician whose FBI files were so scandalous that they had to be sealed for half a century would be bad for them.
This strategy would work nationwide today. It has two problems. First, those implementing it would have to have the moral courage to defy the rage of the Eastern Media Establishment. Secondly, it would mean adopting policies—against Affirmative Action, terminating the attack on non-elite living standards by massive immigration - that the political elite find in their own selfish interests.
So we are stuck this silly John McCain groveling for Hispanic votes in Mexico. For every vote he gets 15 Helms-type voters will choose to go fishing, or have a beer, rather than vote.
When Jesse Helms first won in North Carolina in 1972, he had to defeat an effort by the state Democratic leadership, with astonishing effrontery, to foist a liberal Greek-American on this very conservative and (then) remarkably ethnically homogenous state. His slogan:
"Vote for Helms -He's One of Us".