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Senator Robert Byrd dies at the age of 92 
28th-Jun-2010 09:33 pm
Awkward
Senator Robert Byrd died today at the age of 92. He had served in the senate for over 51 years. In his youth he had been active in the Ku Klux Klan and was the top officer in his community. In 1944, he wrote to one of his state senators stating "I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side ... Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds." He later said that he regretted joining the Klan because, according to a statement he made in 1997, it was a mistake which had "inhibited" his "operations in the political arena." He also said in 2005 "I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times ... and I don't mind apologizing over and over again. I can't erase what happened."

Byrd supported Barack Obama for President in 2008. He also opposed the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was one of a few Senators to oppose the nomination of Wall Street insider Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary.

Behind the cut is a poll which questions whether Byrd was a great legislator, or a racist who publicly abandoned blatant racism motivated by political opportunism. It also questions whether or not term limits should exist in congress.



Poll #1585392 Robert Byrd

Today Senator Robert Byrd of Virginia died at the age of 92. Should there be an age limit for persons who serve in congress?

Yes
11(33.3%)
No
22(66.7%)
Something else (what?)
0(0.0%)

If there should be a mandatory age of retirement for persons serving in congress, what should that age be?

There shouldn't be any age limit. People shouldbe allowed to serve for as long as the voters keep electing them.
21(67.7%)
65
0(0.0%)
70
2(6.5%)
75
5(16.1%)
80
3(9.7%)
Some other age (what?)
0(0.0%)
Something else (what?)
0(0.0%)

Byrd was a Senator for over 51 years. Should a person be permitted to serve for that long, or should there be some sort of term limits?

Persons should be allowed to serve for as long as the voters elect them
21(67.7%)
There should be some sort of term limits
9(29.0%)
Something else (what?)
1(3.2%)

If there should be term limits, what is a reasonable limit for senators (who serve a term of 6 years)?

There shouldn't be any term limits
16(57.1%)
1 term
0(0.0%)
2 terms
4(14.3%)
3 terms
3(10.7%)
4 terms
4(14.3%)
Something else (what?)
1(3.6%)

Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his youth and made a number of blatantly racist statements even after being elected. He fillibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but later recanted his earlier racist positions and apologized for them. He also supported Barack Obama for President. Should Byrd be forgiven for his earlier racist views?

Yes, that was then, this is now.
20(60.6%)
Yes for some other reason
1(3.0%)
No, the apology was just political opportunism and masked the man's real views
7(21.2%)
No for some other reason
1(3.0%)
I'm not sure
3(9.1%)
Something else (what?)
1(3.0%)
Comments 
29th-Jun-2010 11:23 am (UTC)
one of the best things about being human is that we can learn, grow, and change our minds. Its a lot more challenging to keep learning and admit ones mistakes than it is to just blindly stick to your original point of view, no matter what. So I have to respect the man for changing his mind on some huge topics - AND being able to charm his people into reelecting him over and over, despite those changes.
29th-Jun-2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
Considering how people react to politicians "flip flopping" in this country I dunno if changing one's mind in the name of politics is necessarily the best move, although perhaps racism is a contentious enough issue among enough people that it would be a positive move regardless, but I'm cynical enough to think not.

29th-Jun-2010 03:44 pm (UTC) - This poll brought to you by the Logan's Run Chamber of Commerce
...but anyway.

Early Racism - I always find it interesting when these questions are posed that it's always the tolerance that's the naked ambition, rather than the racism. He was a politician in the South. Racism was political opportunism.

However, I don't think that 'forgive' is the right word. You can't unscramble eggs. A politician is the sum of his career, however, and to only harp on one particular flaw - not 'the' flaws, but 'a' flaw - is myopic. It bears mention that Justice Black, a KKK member, voted for Brown v. Board. (Of course, I suppose that point also makes it clear just how ignoble Byrd's position was. Of course, he wasn't in an appointed-for-life position either.)
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