Wvias Obstrutr The Democratic Party’s state convention in San Antonio Tuesday -was ethically sickening, and in many more ways than the obvious ones. The dramatic abortion of the convention, wrought by the midwives of the genteel Governor’s coarse tyranny, was especially shocking because of his pious psalm-singing about majority rule. Never let him whisper of it again, even to Admiral Sam Wood ; never let him talk about peace and harmony, fair play and “integrity in politics.” The ruthless jack-hammering of the people’s will by arrogant presiding , officers so dazes one’s democratic sensibilities, nothing seems to be pertinent but outrage. Surely the names of Vann Kennedy and Maurice Bullock, the Governor’s “dispatchers” of fair play and honest democratic procedures, must now be entered on the people’s blacklist, just as Ernest Thompson’s was unceremoniously etched there in 1956 by his own dictatorial \\ vhams. Even we who have been friendly with these men, and will be again, shall know henceforth they are not to be trusted with a democratic authority. For the governor they simply crushed shut the state convention and took refuge with their quivering superiors behind a curtain they dropped to the stage like a bulletproof shade. So. That said, are we mainly through ? No ; we are not even begun. Critics of Daniel who trained on his alleged broken promise to honor the choices of the caucuses for the SDEC overreached the reason why the deed was wrong to grasp a charge that crumbles with a careful reading of Daniel’s public statements. His celebrated resolution adopted .by the SDEC the morning of the convention said only that the caucus nominees should be seated, and that the caucuses should nominate only people devoted to his “three-point program.” Daniel did not say publicly what he would do if a caucus nominated someone opposed to his “program,” and this was exactly the issue. Virility What the Governor did was break faith with the delegates from two senatorial caucuses, purging their nominees to the SDEC because, in substance, he wanted to keep the two people they would have replaced and alleged that the objectionable nominations were punitive against his favorites. This involved two kinds of offenses, both of which are incompatible with a democratic Democratic Party. First, it showed that he was willthe integrity of every delegate in the conventionto deny to any delegate whose decision he didn’t approve the right to his full vote in the convention. For all his lip service to local self-government, Daniel had not crossed the bridge between the boss-politics concept of “the governor’s convention,” where the governor-boss purges people he doesn’t like from the official party, and the concept of a virile state party which the Democrats control through their convention and which naturally and democratically comes to embody honestly the various shades of opinion in the party. Thus he also demonstrated that be does not value the idea of a free and open party in Nv hich ideas and free debate flourish. Among his “three points” were “work for enactment of the platform” of the state convention and strengthening the party through “its duly elected officials.” In practice this meant that someone who was a liberal or who didn’t “co-operate” with Daniel, Jim Lindsey, or Jake Pickle \(say, in organizing counties against DOT, or in spreading the Austin American might have no right to be elected by his peers in his senatorial district to a place of honor in the party. Intellectual conformity, pledged in advance, was thus made a requisite to honor in the official party. The nominations committee hearing on the nominees was more like an inquisition than anything we have heard since the McCarthy years. “Do you support the -threepoint program ?” “He did not cooperate with the governor’s program.” “Who did you vote for ?” Buried behind the open questions : do you agree to work for the governor’s platform? The program of the party officers? The real meaning of it all : will you conform to our conservative way of thinking? Thus the party would deprive itself of the virility of debate, the variety of opinion which makes debate virile, without which the party is nothing but a rubber stamp and a propaganda soundinc , board for the incumbent politician. What would be the acceptable meaning of harmony in the state party ? -Since this is a one-party state, it would mean that all Texans who agree that they are Democrats would submit in good faith to the decisions of all such Democrats in precincts, county conventions, and state conventions. This would mean that a conservative governor might have to work with a liberal SDEC, or vice versa ; that Shivers-FIA people might serve on SDEC with Gonzalez-ADA people ; that somebody who opposed Daniel for governor might attain a position of honor in the state party. In other words, harmony cannot be attained in the Democratic Party until a special kind of disharmonythe disharm ony of honest disagreementis accepted as good in the dominant party in a one-party state. Betrayal We do not condemn Sen. Johnson and Speaker Rayburn for Daniel’s breaking of faith with the caucuses, nor for the enshrinement of intellectual conformity in the party which underlay that act. We do condemn Johnson and Rayburn for breaking faith with the liberals of the state for the second straight convention. They are now wiggling out from under the fury of the Democrats scorned by their junior but, when it mattered, controlling partner. Perhaps they had a firm agreement from Daniel to honor the caucus nominees, and perhaps not. If so, it is a matter between the three of them selling out the liberals to Daniel and the FIA, they could not have Mitigated the cynicism of their act by extracting from the liberals’ enemies some of the liberals’ objectives. They together opposed the Democrats who believe and have sought to have accepted fair play in conventions; they together opposed the Democrats who have always supported the national nominees ; they together opposed the Democrats who include the liberals without whom the Democratic Party would have neither exciting value nor historical destiny. New Ideas And this brings us to the liberals’ own deception about the true meaning of their own struggle for control. We do not mean, we would not advocate, that the Texas Democrats oriented to the values of the national party fight for those things we in this newspaper advocate ; what they advocate is their, each separately and together their business. But they ought to advocate a coherent program of substancea program, of flesh and blood, for people who live and breathe and need, not Only a program of bare-bones party reform. What is an opposition for if not to drive the in-party to creative defensiveness? By winning its objectives on party loyalty for party officers and the principle \(admitted by SDEC, at least, as a desirable nees to the SDEC, they demonstrated that effective policy-making is effective opposition. Why then was no platform offered in opposition to Daniel’s mish-mash of reaction and generalities? Why were there. no ground-breaking resolutions from the creative minority within the opposition? Too many of the best men in the opposition were tied up with the strategy of winning. To that extent the outs have become as . opportunistically political as the ins. One measure of the depreciation of ideas among Texas liberals is the doggedness . with which the liberalloyalist movement has insisted that the only real i s sue is party loyalty. The derelictions of the past ought not be forgotten, but they ought not be extended, like the Original Sin, to every conservative in the state. There is opportunism in the liberals’ focusing on this One and Only Issue. They too want to avoid one of the effects of creative political thinkingthe alienation of the unimaginative. Finally we would turn in abhorrence from the little-noticed authoritarianism of the convention setup. Ex-Sen. Joe Hill’s tendency toward flambuoyance led him into acts without which the convention leadership would not have been called upon to enact the implications of their undemocratic isolation of the big-shots from the delegates. Armed policemen blocked the entry of plain delegates as well as members of the press from the convention stage. There were only two microphones for the 5,000 delegates, and each of them was guarded by an Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. SEPTEMBER 12, 1958 Ronnie Dugger Editor and General Manager Willie Morris, Associate Editor Sarah Payne, Office Manage; Dean Johnston, Circulation-Advertising EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICE 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone GReenwood 7-0746. HOUSTON OFFICE: 1012 Dennis, Mrs. R. D. Randolph, Dean Johnston. Entered as second-class matter, April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. armed policeman; the presiding officer had a double-check switch-off at the podium. Delegates were barred from the nominations committee hearing, the proceeding most vitally affecting the integrity of the entire convention and every delegate present. The resolutions committee refused to permit delegates to introduce resolutions unless they were members of the committee !; refused to permit delegates to speak unless they were members of the committee! Why bother to go to such a convention? You can’t even attend the nominations c o in in it t e e, even throwing out your own nominee to the SDEC ; you can’t present a resolution to the resolutions committee, nor can you speak before it. You can’t speak from the convention floor without the permission of a policeman and the convention chairman ; but you can’t even get to see the chairman without the permission of other policemen barring the door to the backstage. No wonder so many delegates demonstrated : it was the only chance they had to do anything as individuals. The Individual Certain precautions are necessary for orderly conventions but they should not strangle the delegates under stacked committees and undemocratic committee rules and shut them up between locked committeeroom doors and the policeguarded convention stage. There ought to be, first, more time for debate in the committees and for participation by plain delegates and second, a minimum provision for open floor debate on every issue of importanceto the party, even though time would have to be limited. As a start, the state convention should be extended from one to two days ; the use of policemen done away with and the use of delegate sergeants-at-arms, unarmed, limited to enforcement of convention-approved rules ; and the rules redesigned to allow the maximum possible participation and freedom of movement by individual delegates. We have too many “unit rules” and “special credentials” and “spokesmen” and “Officials” in our group-oriented society already. We have too little respect for the will of the ordinary democratic man. We have too little persistence of the tough-minded’ old individualist who will have his say and will have his day.’We have too little independence from big names who think they can sell out their friends without the penalty that comes to ordinary mortals when they do that, who think they have done so much for the people, the people have no real, honestto-God right to criticize them. If the liberal movement in Texas does nothing else the next two years it might at least encourage a little Published once a week from Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $4 per annum. Advertising rates available on request. Extra copies 10c each. Quantity prices available on orders. We will serve no group or party but will hew to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders froth none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Let those flatter who fear, it is not an American art.JEFFERSON -An ethically Sichening Stale Convention
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