Changes in the GOP since the 1970s
Holshouser describes the changes in the Republican Party since his governorship in the early 1970s. The differences in the party caused by regional identities have given way to ideological conflicts, he believes, such as that between social and economic conservatives. He blames, or credits, Ronald Reagan for shifting conservatism's focus to shrinking government.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
At that point you had a fairly well defined model of when—of
people who came out of the mountains and went way back as Republicans,
but for different reasons than those who came in later. It
wasn't just the mountains; you go down to Wilkes and Yadkin
counties. You had Sampson County with its own peculiar thing down east.
You had the people who came into the party from the
north—they moved into the state as industry came in.
That's one of the legacies that Luther Hodges and Terry
Sanford started; they brought in industry, and they brought Republicans
in, too. Not that that's what they intended
[Laughter] . Then you had a group of people
who had a harder edge on their politics than others of us did. Today
it's a whole different set of circumstances.
You've got social conservatives and economic conservatives;
you've got Libertarians. We don't have many
liberal Republicans in North Carolina. You've got a few, but
the line moves generally from the middle [to the] right. That tends to
be true of the Democrats as well, except that they move from the middle
left, because most of the conservative Democrats have switched. As a
result, it gets much harder for a moderate in either party to be elected
statewide. That's probably not particularly good, in that I
think that the state tends to be moderate to moderate-conservative by
its nature. The country has become more conservative, and I think North
Carolina has become more conservative since I was governor. Since the
sixties just a tide of things, and I'm not sure I know why
all that was. I expect that a certain amount of it had to do with
Reagan's four—eight years in
Washington. I think regardless of whether you are for or against Ronald
Reagan or his approach to government. I think he changed the agenda in
Washington from what it had been since the thirties. All of a sudden it
was just a whole bunch of different questions that were on the table. It
wasn't as much a matter of expanding government as it was a
matter of how much you were going to retrench it, so to speak.