Ivan  Parkins

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©Ivan W. Parkins 2008,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Front Page  Archive 2008

Archive 2009

Page 2,  Disassemble the House

Page 3, Media Bias

Page 4, Book Reviews

Page 5, War and Their Costs

Page 6, Broken Congress

Letter to the editor;  Morning Sun, 11/20/2004


Parker had correct assessment of what's wrong with Democrats


    Kathleen Parker was "right on" with her column in the Sunday, Nov. 14, edition, "Voters want sincerity, not fake values."

    In 1968, a year that I voted for the Democrat presidential candidate (my seventh and last instance of doing that), the party split badly over the war in Vietnam.  After losing that election, party leaders chose Senator McGovern to head a reformation of their "unfair" nominating process.  Shortly before the next nominating convention, THE U.S. NEWS on 6/12/72 reported a Gallup poll disclosing some results of the changes.  Of 13 categories (by region, race, job, education and age), Senator McGovern was the choice of Democrat voters in only one, those with more than four years of college.  Humphrey won 11 and tied with Wallace for the 13th.  But the reformed nominating process chose McGovern, who was an ex-professor and a Ph.D.  Nixon won that election by the largest popular plurality and one of the largest majorities in our history.

    Since 1972, Democrat presidential successes have been Carter, with 50.1 percent of the vote, and Clinton, the third man in our history to win twice without a majority either time.  (The other two were also Democrats, Cleveland and Wilson.)

    Shouldn't that history offer to America's self-anointed intellectual elite an alternative to blaming "mindless" followers of traditional values for election failures?


A foot note:  Hubert Humphrey, whose nomination for President in 1968, some people thought was so “unfair,” had  led most opinion polls of Democrats in that year .  Most showed him getting about two-thirds of those who identified with the party, about the same as his initial delegate count in the Chicago Convention.  I.W. Parkins 5/08




Front Page

Dividing America


By Ivan W. Parkins


(The following article was originally published in the Daily Times-News, 10/06/1971). You will notice some language usages at the time which were acceptable, but currently are not used due to cultural sensitivities.-Ed.)


             The Kerner Commission on civil disorders in its final report stated that, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.”  That evaluation has been quoted again and again.  Both the Johnson and the Nixon Administrations have been castigated for a lack of enthusiasm in accepting and implementing the report.

             The implication of the report and the charge bluntly levied by a militant minority of Americans, is that racial bigotry prevailing in the American public and intransigence existing in American institutions makes reductions of our racial tensions unlikely.  I am reminded that when I moved to Michigan, just after the Detroit riots of 1967, the more specific prediction , then popular in the press, was that more and bigger riots would soon follow.  I required one of my classes to write a brief paper discussing the capacity of the American political system to cope with the problem over the next five years.  To my chagrin, I discovered that very few of my own suggestions had been accepted by my students.  Almost unanimously, they echoed predictions of a holocaust borrowed from the news media.

             Arguing against “liberals” that a few riots did not foreshadow a race war was a new role for me.  I had moved from the South, where my arguments were chiefly with segregationists, many of whom cited sporadic violence and threats of violence as a reason why the civil rights movements should be halted.  Neither group seemed to be aware that race relations during much of American history, especially in the late nineteenth century, were more violent than during the recent civil rights movement.  Apparently, few people considered race relations in the perspective of violence which accompanied other great changes, such as the rise of labor unions.

             The violence of the civil rights movement thus far has been moderate, when taken in the perspective of history and considering the magnitude of the change.  Furthermore, there is growing  evidence of progress.  Economic gains, especially for the younger and more educated Negroes, are substantial.  Negro voting, and successes in winning political offices, have multiplied.  It is largely in the more subtle area of white-black attitudes toward one another that some people still claim to find bases for pessimism.

             Several major opinions polls in recent years have produced results suggesting that white attitudes are less bigoted and intransigent, and black expectations more moderate, than some journalists and intellectuals would have us believe.  Recently, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, probably the foremost center in attitudinal survey in the world has published confirmation that white and black attitudes are converging. 

             The quiet progress of school busing for integration purposes in most of the South is a visible refutation of the pessimistic evaluations of our people and our institutions.  The failure of most pessimists to support their arguments with solid evidence does not mean that there is no racial problem in America.  Samuel Lubell’s Hidden Crisis in American Politics provides both reasons for concern and some grounds for hope .  Lubell has been interviewing representative Americans in their homes while too many other journalists and academics were populating the country with Archie Bunkers, fictitious characters whose principal virtue is making intellectuals feel smugly superior.  Lubell found, not attitudinal bigotry, but specific problems of competition for housing and job opportunities, and fears for personal safety to be the roots of tension.  He attributed much of this to population mobility (southern farms to northern cities, cities to suburbs).  Such material problems pose difficult problems to American society; they do not imply degeneracy in the American character.

             Senator Fred Harris, himself a member of the Kerner Commission, referred in LOOK magazine (3/18/1969) to racism as “the number one mental health problem in America.”  Considering the failure of attitudinal surveys to support such evaluations, it is fair to inquire whether views such as those of Harris may not be both and impediment to racial understanding and an additional major cause of division in America.

          Democrats and Racial Disunity


The “1960’s” were a turbulent time for American political parties.  Increased black participation was changing both the northern cities to which blacks were migrating and the old solid Democratic South.  Meanwhile, the Supreme Court held that America’s often very unequal legislative districting was unconstitutional.  How could Democrats survive the changes?

             More educated and “sophisticated” Democrats in the larger cities of the Northeast and Midwest would have additional congressional seats to work with.  The Old South would lose most of its near monopoly of congressional committee chairmanships.  Rural Republicans of the Midwest would lose numerous congressional seats, but many of them could be regained in the new suburbs that were emerging.

             A major question was how would be increasing black vote go?  Black voters had traditionally leaned Republican, until Franklin Roosevelt won many of them over.  More of the black vote, now would be strategically located in large cities and our most populous states.  Given the practice of allocating all of the electoral votes in most states to the presidential candidate who had plurality in that state, a bloc-vote by blacks in major cities became a major key to Democrat success.  Meanwhile, however, most of the new civil rights legislation had been enacted with largely, Republican support.

             Democrats needed to assure that a new and more militant leadership dominated black communities.  In that, the media, academic and artistic as well as journalistic, would be a great help.  The new racial and civil rights picture that emerged in the 1960’s might have led to greater national unity than ever before.  But that might also have undermined a Democrat Party that had long depended upon the Solid South for its margins of victory.  Rather than face such a consequence, the more educated and “liberal” Democrats turned to memorializing past racial injustices and cultivating more militant black leaders.  Peace and racial unity would have to await another day.

I.W. Parkins, 5/08

Institutional Bias


Some decades ago, I pointed out to my American Government classes that the text we were using (the one most widely used in American colleges) gave very different treatments to two ex-governors who had recently been nationally prominent.  Otto Kerner, Democrat of Illinois, headed a commission that investigated urban violence and became famous for the statement that: “American is dividing into two nations, one black and one white, separate and unequal.  Kerner was appointed Judge of a U.S. Court of Appeals.  Our text treated Kerner and his work quite favorably.

             Vice President Agnew, Republican, and former Governor of Maryland, had made several public statements very critical of mass media new treatments and of campus demonstrations.  The text treated him much more severely.

             Soon after, both men were charged with corruption felonies committed during the times that they had been governors.  Agnew was forced to resign the Vice Presidency, accepted a plea bargain, and went to prison.  Kerner pled “not guilty” to more than a dozen charges, was convicted of them all, and also went to prison.  Kerner’s was a first for Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

             On matters of race relations there was some room for debate.  Regarding equal treatment for high ranking white officials, the publicity at least, was not equal. 

             How much of recent confusion vis-à-vis racial matters is actually, a product of the same disinformation system that evaluated Kerner and Agnew so differently?  Also, the late Senator Daniel Moynihan noted at the Kerner Commission had delayed publication of its own racial attitudes survey; it did not fit with the Commission’s conclusion.

I.W. Parkins, 5/08

Memorial Day, 2007 (slightly revised-2008)


                 In more than seven score of years, since this nation survived its greatest trial of arms, four of its Commanders-in-Chief have died by the hostile fire of their own countrymen.  And, others have been gravely hurt or threatened.  Only rarely have other positions of service born greater risks, and none have carried heavier burdens of responsibility.

             Those who would place the most blame for war upon President Bush need to look more closely at themselves.  Dinesh D'Sousa's book, THE ENEMY AT HOME, is one good place to start.  D'Sousa examines the similarities of Christian and Muslim traditions, especially as they regard personal morals and relationships.  He notes, rightly I think, that the deepest and most necessary conflict of the two is the one that has only recently emerged out of the American, and Western, cultural revolt against any higher order.  And that revolt has been led by much those same individuals and social elements who now denounce the resulting war, and Bush's leadership, most vehemently.

             America's quasi-anarchist left plays a perverted role, creating ideological causes of war while muddying that war's objectives.  And, far too many in the "liberal" mass are little more than naive sycophants of those who champion "heroic" individuality against loyalty to any order capable of managing a great society.

             Let us remember those who have served, but not neglect supporting those who serve us still.