|South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Throughout the long fight to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson and his allies kept hoping they might find “a Southern Vandenberg,” that is, a segregationist Democrat who would switch sides and galvanize bipartisan support for the bill, in the way that Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg’s conversion from isolationism to internationalism at the end of World War II buoyed the creation of NATO and the Marshall Plan.
No such paladin emerged 50 years ago.
But the blinding speed with which Gov. Nikki Haley’s call for removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol has upended the national debate over that stubbornly enduring symbol shows how much political power a conversion of conscience can have.