The Political Unfitness of
Trent Lott

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Ph.D.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson


When asked about desegregation in his home state of Mississippi, Republican Senate Majority leader Trent Lott said "It just happened one day, and we moved on." While many whites in Mississippi did move on, the question is did Lott? The one time congressional aide to staunch segregationist congressman William Colmer has emerged as the major player in the Southern Republican's drive to dump Clinton. He has badgered and cajoled the Senate to bring the impeachment charges against Clinton to a speedy trial. He has lectured Democrats that they should be offended by Clinton's conduct.

Yet Lott may be more than just a Republican conservative indignant at Clinton's moral misbehavior, but a Southern politician who has cozied up to race baiters and segregationists. The list of Lott's dubious political ties and actions call into serious question his political and moral fitness to judge Clinton. The list includes:

  • Close tie to the Council of Conservative Citizens. This updated version of the old White Citizens Council issued "A Call to White Americans," demands that whites uphold the "The traditions of the White South," champions the Confederate flag, promotes neo-KKKer David Duke, hails former segregationist Georgia governor Lester Maddox as a hero, and has website links to many of the farthest-out right wing groups in the nation. Lott spoke to their national conference, and to a local chapter in Mississippi. The CCC house organ, the Citizens Informer runs his feature column.

  • Racially-tinged political positions. He supported tax breaks for Bob Jones University and segregated schools, fought to reinstate the citizenship of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, called Jocelyn Elders, and David Satcher, Clinton's nominees for Surgeon-General and both African-Americans, unfit.
  • Voting record on civil rights related issues. He declined to co-sponsor the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1997, and the Employment Non- Discrimination Act in 1998. The Human Rights Campaign, a public advocacy group that monitors congressional legislation gave Lott a zero rating the last three years for his votes on civil and human rights legislation.

  • Personal integrity. When pressed by the media about his speeches to the CCC, Lott feigned amnesia. When pressed further he claimed that the speeches may have been give years ago when he was a member of the House. They weren't. He gave the speeches to the CCC national conference in 1992 and a local CCC conference in 1995. He was a senator both years. When the truth was pointed out to him he refused to comment.

There may be even more to Lott's involvement with this group then is known. If so, he needs to come clean with the public on it. But even if he doesn't his past statements and actions show that oftimes he has marched in lock step with the bitterest of enemies of civil rights, and civil liberties and who hate Clinton for supporting those issues.

The Southern House Republicans shoved through impeachment as part of their grand strategy to roll back civil rights and further gut social programs, wage their political and cultural war for a nativist, know-nothing America, and seize the White House in 2000. Lott is determined to finish their job in the Senate by convicting Clinton, or failing that, ramming through a crippling censure resolution to discredit him and paralyze the Democratic presidential campaign effort in 2000.

But Lott has dirtied his political hands by cavorting with race baiting groups such as the CCC. This hardly makes him fit to debate and vote on the conviction of Clinton. We should let him know that. Trent Lott
fax: 202-224-2262

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is the author of The Crisis in Black and Black.

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