The Politics of Equality
Timothy N. Thurber explores the links between Senator Hubert Humphrey's policies on racial justice and economic reform. Thurber investigates Humphrey's legislative agenda in the context of the tensions between the class-based politics of the New Deal to which Humphrey wished the party to return and the rights-based politics that eventually came to dominate the Democratic platform. Although Humphrey is often associated with the civil rights movement, Thurber shows that he stood out in his commitment to achieving racial equality through means of economic reform, an approach that was not readily embraced by the Democratic Party.Thurber begins by tracing Humphrey's early life, and goes on to detail the rise of his political career, his lifelong commitment to the New Deal goal of economic equality, and his legislative agenda as a senator. From the Fair Employment Practices law, to the triumphant passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to more radical recommendations--such as a Domestic Marshall Plan--Humphrey became concerned with how structural changes in the economy effected African Americans.Thurber uses Humphrey's career not only to explore the intersection of race, class, and politics in the second half of this century but also to reveal the trajectory of Democratic politics in the postwar era as the party faced the increasingly difficult task of maintaining the New Deal coalition. Hubert Humphrey's agenda of racial justice through economic reform-its triumphs and its failures-represents for Thurber the precarious position of liberalism and a road still not taken.