Title: Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015.
Interviewer: DeVries, Walter
Interviewee: Nettles, Bert
Subjects: Alabama--Politics and government Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919- Republican Party (Ala.) Race in politics--Alabama Watergate Affair, 1972-1974
Abstract: Bert Nettles discusses the state of politics and the Republican Party in Alabama in the 1970s. Nettles summarizes his past, the reasons he began his political career, and the political positions he had held up to that point. He spends a good deal of time on his 1972 run for the U.S. Senate, when industrialist Red Blount outspent him. During the statewide campaign, Blount, who had traditionally been a moderate or even a progressive, realigned himself so as to become one of George Wallace's allies. Nettles explains how he thinks this loss affected the Republican Party in Alabama. He emphasizes the need for honesty and ethics reform in the political system. Though the Republican Party in the South became more conservative during the 1970s, Nettles repeatedly insists that the stance fails to honor the heritage of the party and is not the key to the party's future. He believes the most important tactics are winning the urban areas and winning the black vote.
Nettles also discusses the many school desegregation conflicts that plagued Alabamians into the 1970s. Though he believes that George Wallace's legacy would continue to send moderates into the Republican Party, Nettles also hopes that as Wallace becomes more active on the national political scene, incoming politicians will begin to reform Alabama's state programs. He ends by explaining how Watergate had affected the Republican Party in Alabama and the ways they were attempting to mitigate the resultant backlash. He maintains that voters respect and support someone who openly supports specific issues, asserting that honesty is more important than just about anything else.