Long time Atlanta fifth district congressman John Lewis looks at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump and sees an echo of George Wallace, the Alabama Democrat who opposed racial integration. Lewis is quoted in a New York Times story timed to highlight his relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It’s a reasonable comparison,” said Mr. Lewis, now 75. “See, I don’t think Wallace believed in all that stuff he was preaching. I think Wallace said a lot of stuff just to get ahead.
“I don’t think Trump really believes in all this stuff,” the veteran lawmaker added. “But he thinks this would be his ticket to the White House — at least to get the Republican nomination.”
Mr. Lewis says his friends across the aisle in Congress fear the rawness of Mr. Trump’s appeal, at a time they desperately need more black and Hispanic votes, and worry it could produce “the destruction of the Republican Party.” Mr. Lewis shares their hope that the new, young speaker, Paul D. Ryan, can offer a powerful counterweight by seeking to broaden his party’s constituency using issues of economic opportunity.
The Times story contrasts the attitude of Lewis at the 1963 March on Washington, where he hoped for a “party of principles” to address racial issues, to the political polarization seen today, especially from many partisan Tea Party members, who eschew any attempt at compromise.