Abner Linwood Holton, Jr. is a Republican. In fact, in 1970 he was the first Republican elected Governor of the state of Virginia in almost 100 years (since Reconstruction), and is widely regarded as the “father of the Republican party in Virginia”. Some of you may recall that the Republican resurgence in the South during the 70s was mainly a result of Nixon’s Southern Strategy of “exploiting racism among white voters”.
So it might seem ironic that Holton has not only endorsed Obama, but is campaigning heavily for him.
But it is not so surprising when you note something interesting about Holton’s past. When desegregation became a burning issue in Virginia, Governor Holton voluntarily placed his children in the mostly African-American Richmond Public schools, and even walked them to school himself. In response to his support for racial desegregation, the Republican party turned against him (even though he was the incumbent), nominating someone who supported “massive resistance” to desegregation for the governorship.
Back in the racist 1970s, Holton stood up against segregation. And today, 30 some years later, Holton is again able to see beyond our nation’s lingering racism. There may be other issues at work here, but the clear message seems to be that the less racist you are, the more likely that you will support Obama for president, even if you are conservative or Republican.
There, I’ve said it. Let the attacks on my character begin.