I was reading Russell Moore’s “What I’m Reading” this morning. One of the books that Moore listed was Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative Who Changed America, which was written by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes (the Beltway Boys). Jack Kemp was a football player for the Buffalo Bills, a Republican Congressman from New York, a 1988 candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. President, and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in George H.W. Bush’s Administration. He is known for his support of supply-side economics, or tax cuts, but he is also known for his concern for the poor and his sensitivity to racial issues.
What caught my eye in Moore’s brief description of the book was the following: “One anecdote I found particularly inspiring takes place when Kemp is running for president in 1988 and speaks at a fundraiser in my home state of Mississippi. Kemp is warned to avoid references to Lincoln and race, given the crowd in the room. As can be expected, Kemp spent the entire speech calling for a convictional embrace of civil rights and Lincoln’s ideas.”
That is amazing! Jack Kemp goes to Mississippi and speaks in favor of Lincoln and civil rights. I thought about when Ronald Reagan as a Republican candidate for President in 1980 spoke in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and declared his support for states’ rights, including in education (see my post here). Reagan’s speech was not entirely bad, for Reagan said in that speech that many welfare recipients do not want to be on welfare, and that is in contrast with the “welfare queen” rhetoric that he used. But Reagan endorsed states’ rights in education, in a state where a significant issue involving states’ rights in education was segregation. If what Kondracke and Barnes say about Kemp is true, then Kemp was more courageous and trailblazing than Reagan!
I have to respect Kemp’s courage and conviction.