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What Is Wrong with the Texas Republicans? PHILADELPHIA, PA. What’s the matter with the Texas Republican Party? Whatever it is, it’s a matter of interest to me, a brasscollar Republican. And it should be of concern to every Texan who believes that the state will be better governed when it has a real two-party something. It’s clear enough that something is the matter with the G.O.P. in Texas. Twice in a row Texans have swarmed to the polls to vote for Dwight Eisenhower and Dick Nixonand twice in a row these same Texans have hastened to scratch from their ballots all Republican candidates for other offices. Except for the victories of Bruce Alger in Dallas because of a unique mating of the right man and the right city, Republican candidates for Congress and for state office have failed to make even a respectable showing. In my own Austin precinct in 1956, Eisenhower won handsomely, but fewer than half of the people who voted for him cast their ballots for the able Republican legislative candidate, though he had made a strong campaign and had an enthusiastic organization working for him in the precinct. There is more to the answer than that Texas voters are traditionally Democrats. They ignore this tradition in their national votes. As the election returns show, the state Republican Party is far less successful in appealing to the people than is the national party. MAYBE THE ANSWER is that as the Republican Party nationally has become increasingly liberal, and as Texas voters have moved in the same direction, the state party has done its best to stand out as a stronghold of ultra-conservatism. In their 1958 platform, they say that their function is to provide “responsible conservative opposition” and denounce the Democrats for their failure to rem a i n “consistently conservative.” When they get down to platform specifics, the party shows how seriously they are out to attract the voters who loved McKinley and Harding. On some state issues, the platform is not bad. It calls in detail for a state water program, demands loan shark legislation, and condemns improper lobbying. But when the platform gets to pocketbook issues, the latent conservatism shows through. The party piously announces that vital state functions should not be curtailed or discontinued, BUTand a big “but” it is”We are opposed to all efforts to increase taxes, or to add new forms of taxes.” Yet any intelligent Texan knew in the summer of 1958 that the state was nearly broke and that increased taxes were a necessity merely to continue existing ,state functions, to say nothing of meeting new and urgent demands on the state. It is when the platform turns to federal-state relations, and to national matters, that its true colors become most clear. Perhaps Texans discount as inevitable the hymns of praise for states’ rights, private enterprise, and the depletion allowance, but how to defend the opposition to federal hydro-electric dams and federal aid to education, the ingenuous talk of reducing income tax rates, the labor plank which cannot find a single good thing to say for labor unions, the voiced suspicion of the United Nations, the demand for some form of a Bricker Amendment, or the outrageous talk of “flagrant abuse of power by the Supreme Court.” Undoubtedly there are some Texans who respond to such a program, but every recent election has taught the moral that they are fast becoming a vanishing breed. Or consider the plank on segrega tion. “We urge,” it says, “that in the absence of any legal and orderly change of the law by constitutional amendment, or by legislation, the gradual solution for problems relating to desegregation in Texas be left to the people, the school boards, and the courts within this State.” What a mess of doubletalk ! Is the reference to “orderly change , of the law” a slap at the Supreme Court for a “disorderly change” by judicial decision ? Or does it represent a forlorn hope that, by statute or constitutional amendment, Brown v. Board of Education will be overruled ? Is the “gradual solution” which is urged to be ‘integration or continued segregation ? The platform doesn’t say. Compare this with the 1956 platform of the national Republican Party, which expressly accepts the Brown ruling and says “the ported in every legal manner by all branches of the Federal Government ‘ to the end that the Constitutional ideal of equality before the law, regardless of race, creed or color, will be steadily achieved.” Or compare it with the recent statement by the authoritative RepubliCan Committee ,on Program and Progress, which calls the complete elimination of segregation a goal “of high priority” whch must not be permitted to lag. Texas Republican leaders have enthusiastically endorsed Vice President Nixon for the 1960 nomination ; until they acquire some of Mr. Nixon’s militancy for civil rights they can hardly hope to attract the votes of Negroes or of white persons who believe in the Constitution. TEXAS REPUBLICANS are doing their best to take a stand even to the right of the F.I.A. and Shivercrat wings of the Democratic Party, though the mind boggles at the thought that such a position is possible. Recent history shows that it is forlorn to think that such a position will attract to the fold Democrats disenchanted by the liberalism of that party. In 1958 the Dallas County Republican chairman called on conservatives not to vote for Bill Blakley in the senatorial race with Ralph Yarborough, because, he promised, the Republicans would offer a candidate so conservative as to make Blakley seem a liberal by comparison. This awesome prospect failed to attract many voters. Very few conservatives bothered to vote for this Republican Neanderthal, after losing with Blakley in the primary. . Those few conservatives who are attracted by the programs the local Republicans are offering are hardly the sort on which to build.a political party. Last fall, in a private conversation with a conservative who had keynoted a recent Republican state convention and who was a delegate to the 1956 national convention, I mentioned that I do not vote in Democratic primaries. “That’s silly,” he said. “I’m a Democrat in July and a Republican in November.” It’s hard to hope for much from a party which honors a man who is not loyal’ to the party twelve months of the year. The national Republican program, translated into state terms, would make the Republicans the liberal party in Texas. Such a program would appeal to the liberal elements who soon will be in the majority in Texas and who must be unhappy at the way Texas Democrats deal with their liberals. Such a program would give voters a responsible choice and could lead to the real two-party system which now seems such a forlorn dream. It is with this hope that I will continue to stay out of Democratic primaries, and instead give money and ring doorbells for the Republican Party in Texas. CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT GOP Leaders Chill Rockefeller Charles Alan Wright About the Author AUSTIN The Observer’s guest columnist this week is Charles Alan Wright, professor of law at the University of Texas, on leave of absence for the current academic year to serve as visiting professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also taught at the Universities of Minnescta, Michigan, Colorado, and North Carolina and at Yale University. A liberal and a brass-collar Republican, Wright was one of those who stayed up late at night chanting “We Want Wilikie” in the galleries of the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1940. In 1948 he was a page at the Republican National Convention ; he was accredited to the Republican National Convention in 1952 by The Progressive Magazine ; in 1956 he was a delegate to the Republican state convention in Texas. He has written law casebooks, scholarly articles for the law journals, and articles commenting on public affairs for the political journals. His analysis of the constitutionality of the 1957 bills on segregation pending in the Texas legislature at that time appeared in the Observer on April 23, 1957. AUSTIN Nelson Rockefeller, the Governor of New York, alighted in Dallas and Houston long enough to find out for himself that Richard Nixon has, indeed, sewed up the official Republican leadership of the state. Asked whether any top Texas Republicans are supporting him, Rockefeller responded with another question : “Do you mean leaders in. the party or leading citizens ?” The cool official reception did not seem to concern him much. In Dallas he made a talk on’ LatinAmerican affairs ; in both cities he held press conferences at which lie presentedhimself as a presidential possibility. He took many positions, of which probably the most important one, from the point of view of his support in Texas among wealthy conservatives, was his unequivocal support of the 27.5 percent oil depletion allowance. But obviously, insisting on desegregation with patience but more speed and refusing to favor reductions in federal taxes, lie did not please most Texas Republican leaders. Rockefeller, whose personal fortune has been estimated at more than $100 million, has interested some liberals and modern Republicans. Old Guard Republican leaders worked to turn out 1,400 or so persons for Nixon’s Dallas visit ; when Rockefeller spoke there, 1,000 turned up. Party officials who had joined Nixon at the head table in Dallas sat in the audience when Rockefeller spoke. Probably Rockefeller’s warmest Republican reception came from Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby of the Houston Post, under whom he served when she was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Commenting on Rockefeller’s visit, the Post said editorially that he is “a new, imaginative, and highly intelligent figure” with charm and forthrightness. A front-page picture in the Dallas NeWs showed Dallas banker …Fred Florence clapping over Rockefeller’s headdown to his earsa Texas hat much too big for him, while the Post’s front-page picture showed Mrs. Hobby and Thad Hutcheson, Texas GOP chairman, warmly greeting, him. ROCKEFELLER SAID the country is based on concepts of states’ rights ; the states can do more than many people think ; but when the states do not act, the federal goyernmen has a responsibility. He cited hospital construction as an example. He said “ultimate equality for all” is now recognized as a national objective. We have not been proceeding, rapidly enough toward this goal, lie said. He felt the President might have held more consultations between ‘parties concerned. At the same time, lie said he can understand why progress is slower in some areas thanin others ; patience is necessary, he said. The Supreme Court ruling on school decision was “a very constructive decision,” he said. He advocated, in Dallas, a program to meet the social problems of the Western hemispher,eeducation, nutrition, urban housing, rural health and more cultural interchange within the Americas of students, artists, intellectuals, and business and professional people between the Americans. He suggested that 60 million acres of submarginal farmland be taken out of production by the federal government through a leasing program on a voluntary basis. He said the cost would be about $1 billion a year. When a reporter said it appeared it would cost twice that much, Rockefeller, demonstrating the directness and the candor for which he has become noted, told the reporter, “Perhaps you have some facts I do not have.” He favored farm price supports, “but based on cost of -production.” On taxes, he said, “I think a tax cut would be awfully popular, but unfortunately we are not in a position to cut taxes. , We, must meet our responsibilities.” . He opposed any scaling down of the 27.5 ‘percent depletion’ allowance, saying, “The depletion program has brought about the search for oil this country needs. It has kept America in the forefront as an oil producer” and has “contributed tremendously toward supply.” In Oklahoma City Rockefeller had said he believed the present policy of non-recognition of Red China is sound, but the policy might have to be reviewed. He told Dallas reporters on this : “Red China is a major challenge to the free world and the. Soviet Union. We must appraise their significant rise to power.” In Houston asked about recognitionhe said, “Red China is going to become the major challenge to world freedom we must know what is going on there.” HE WAS MET in Dallas by the new county GOP chairman, Peter O’Donnell, \( who said later lie would make a good vice president, for which office Rockefeller said he is not tional GOP committeewoman from Texas. Conspicuously absent : Rep. Bruce Alger, reportedly “busy. in Washington.” Rockefeller met Speaker Sam Rayburn at the door to a hotel gift shop, and they exchanged warm words. Al’ said Rockefeller told Rayburn, “Lyndon is doing a lot better than most people think.” Apart from Mrs. Hobby and Hutcheson, Albert Fay, state GOP finance chairman, and Mrs. John Martin, state committeewoman, met Rockefeller in Houston. Conspicuously absent : Jack Porter, the national GOP committeeman, vacationing in South America. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 December 25, 1959