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Two Reminders: the Value of Dissent AUSTIN Two of the state’s Most intelligent editorial pages appear in the Jacksonville Daily Progress and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. In the last few Months thoughtful editorials on the value of dissent appeared on both of these pages. Though we thought the subject too obvious to justify their republication, after the state Democratic convention, we no longer do. From the Jacksonville Daily Progress: 11 Dissent! “Progress will require greater’ liberty of enterprise, competition and dissent,” writes the historian, Will Durant. Let’s think about dissent for ‘a while. The Boston Teaparty was the dissent of a people who wanted freedom from what was then the established rule of the land. It started the revolUtion that gave America freedom and the world the greatest demonstration of democracy in action. John Peter Zeng -er defied the rule of the governor of his state, went to jail for his violations, and gave America freedom of the press. Martin Luther’s dissent from the rule of the church and the land Drought on the Reformation and Protestantism. Sam Houston defied the -Mexican government and the Texans won their freedom from what was the established government. The struggle goes on foreverhuman beings struggling for a fuller expression of their independence, their dignity, their social advancement, their economic opportunity. When there is oppression there is danger of uprising. Batista and the sugar barons oppressed the people of Cuba and the revolution was inevitable. Now the leader of that revolt is himself becoming a dictator, and will inevitably fall because the people want freedom. It’s unpopular to go against the established customs, the rules of society, the powers that be, the strongly entrenched, the so-called superiors. But it’s the nature of human beings to long for self expression, for equality, for justice. When a governing body runs too smoothly, look out for graft, corruption. The city council, the school board, the commissioners court or the board of directors which is always unanimous is either doing nothing or doing something wrong. It’s unnatural for all thinking people to agree. It’s often the dissent which brings out the facts needed to establish justice and honesty. The FBI says look out for the employee who is too “faithful, never taking a vacation.” That’s the first place to look when there is a shortage of bank funds. Certainly America has plenty of hell raisers, dissenters, objectors, rabble rousers, and “lone wolves.” But they .keep the rest of the world straightened :out. We may and should speak out when we differ. There was a big business man once who promoted the employee who argued with hii11 most about policy. The others feared to disagree, robbing the company of the use of their brains as well as their hands. America is great because of freedom of expression. 11 And from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times: 11 The Way of the dissenter has never been an easy one in any land or in any time. But in America the role of the dissenter becomes more difficult year by year, as the virtues of conformity are stressed in school and workday life. To dissent, of course, not only has the meaning of “thinking apart,” but also of “being” apart. It involves a deliberate choice of an unconventional, unpopular, or novel alternative. At one extreme it takes eloquent form in the dissenting opinion of a United States Supreme Court justice. At the other extreme it represents the rebellion of a child against discipline. It is not absent even today in the halls of Congress, although too frequently it is the hallmark of an unsuccessful legislator, as far as getting bills passed is concerned. The arguments for conformity in an increasingly complex and populous society are -cogent ones. There could be no effective industrial economy nor democratic government, for ‘instance, for 180 million rugged individualists. On the other hand, the American intellectual tradition must reject the cynical slogan of the professional legislator : “To get along, go along.” The call to become a “mass man” is a most seductive one. Only by being “cooperative” and “agreeable” can the average person hope to achieve status and acceptance by the AUSTIN There are so many perfectly obvious defects in the political convention system, one feels like a simpleton pointing them out, and thereupon almost everyone taking part in the system hoots him down for a fool. Whether to be taken for a simpleton or a foolin any event, to be taken this seems a suitable set of possibilities for a Texas liberal these clays, and conventions therefore again a fit subject for wondering. CONVENTIONS can be and are stolen, and nobody goes to jail. In fact, the thieves are promoted to the next tier of conventions. The tools and personnel necessary are an inside confederate, known as the incumbent chairman ; advance men, generally bunched as a majority of the credentials committee ; the thugs themselves, usually called floor leaders ; a powder charge for the safe, such as a favorite son or a handy WASHINGTON Unless Sen. John F. Kennedy trips himself between now and the Los Angeles convention, the man he has most reason to fear is Senate Democratic Leader L. B. Johnson of Texas. To those Who have .watched Johnson operate here these last six years it is amazing to note the changes that have come over the man. One day he is the ingratiating, let’s-all-be-friends type of political glad-hander; the next day he is a rough-tough kick-andgouge fighter who will destroy anyone who gets in his way. Johnson seems determined that no matter what happens to his own presidential ambitions, the one person who must not become President -of the United States is the man he contempttiously calls “Johnny” Kennedy. Kennedy reciprocates the feeling, but seems to find it hard to come to grips with the elusive Lyndon. As things stand now, Johnson will make one big bid to have Kennedy accept second place on a Democratic ticket which is headed by “LBJ”. If Kennedy refuses, as presently seems likely, then the Johnson steamroller is prepared to start moving. For the Kennedy strategists the question is how to handle Johnson. It’s not an easy problem because California and Pennsylvania apparently hesitate about throwing their 162 votes to the Massachusetts aspirant. Why is it such a tough problem, when Kennedy seems so close’ to a quid: victory? The answer is to be found in this simple, but exceedingly effective, line which the Johnson backers now put forth to politicians across the country : “If you tie up with Lyndon you just can’t lose.” What they mean is that Johnson is bound to come out in good shape,. group. If he rebels, he becomes a “square,” a radical, perhaps even an enemy of the people, a social outcast, a “Red,” or worse. Convers .ely, by m becoming a mass an he experiences, in the words of Carl Gustav Jung, “A gentle and painless slipping back into the kingdom of childhood, into the paradise of parental care . . . Where the many are, there is security ; what the many believe, must of course be true ; what the many want, must be worth striving for . . .” It is a tribute to the toughness of the human spirit that great dissenters have appeared in most countries to shape, in the end, the course of history, although they May have been rejected, like Galileo, in their time and even tortured or put to death. For the vigorous dissenter in every free society is an invaluable catalyst. On issues of substance, ranging from religion to astronomy, he offers an alternative. smear-symbol; failing that, a hammer, called .”gavel”; a good shyster, who takes your loot to the next highest convention; and then a fence, the dealer who makes the trades with the stolen goodies. Individuals’ votes and authority are also stolen from them. This is a basic and accepted part of the system, named, so as not to be too readily understood, “The Unit Rule.” If a convention divides, say, 55-45, the 55 cast all the 100 votes at the next highest level, and the 45 get nothing, do nothing, and are nothing. That is, the winners at one level are the Unit at the next. The Units: with the most votes at the end of the process may or may not represent the majority of the citizens who came to the grass roots conventions in the first place. -or so of all the citizens are simply dispensed with from the start, denied all weight and voice thereafter. At the second level, any existing dissonances whether or not lie is the nominee. He has so arranged it in Texas that he will automatically be the Senate candidate, if he does not win at Los Angeles. And since his re-election is reassured, this means that once again he will be the Democratic leader of a Senate which even the Republicans concede they have no chance of winning. Reduced to its simplest terms this means further that it is Johnson to whom the next President must come for distribution of all the big political plumsjob patronage, contracts at the Pentagon, judgeships and ‘what have you. If Kennedy should become the nominee and go on to -become President, he still must live with Lyndon. Otherwise his Administration May find self bogged down at the very outset of an era that is certain to be one of the most difficult in recent American history. Johnson’s men argue that these are the simple facts ,of political life, so why not choose him in the first place ? No matter who wins at Los Angeles, they reason, Johnson will be the dc facto President. To backrooni politicians it seems to be an unanswerable argument. The ordinary voter may find this hard to accept. There is no doubt that Johnson has made some headway since the summit debacle and Kennedy’s youth has become a lively subject of debate. But certainly there has been no groundswell for Johnson. Jacob. Arvey, the shrewd Illinois national committeeman, is one who fears the consequences of a Johnson steamroller. His solution is for a Stevenson-Kennedy ticket which, he forecasts, would produce a “spectacular sweep” for the Democrats. Rom.= G. SPIVACK The framers of our Constitution were much more aware than we are of the importance of free speech when they asserted it as an unalienable privilege in the First Amend, meat. They were well aware that free speech is a two-edged sword : It is at once_ the chief weapon of the revolutionist and the surest protection against tyranny. The right, even the need for dissent in a free society, was eloquently expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address in these words: . . If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is felt free to combat it.” This, surely, is our greatest heritage, the right to disagree. 11 are swept aside by another Unit Rule; at the state level, there’s not much. minority for the remaining Unit to Rule ; by the time you get to a national convention, whole Units are somehow in the hands of one governor, or one senator, or one state party chairman. Of all the useless aspects’ of a big state convention keynote speeches, resolutions, used popcorn boxesthe most useless of all is the individual. Usually he’s been weeded out at a lower level. If he does get to the big event,’ he can holler all he wants, provided none of the policemen dislike this. If he goes to a microphone without permission he may get carted off to jail as a troublemaker. Delegations, not individuals, vote. He votes in his delegation; .then the Unit Rule goes to work. Somehow the decisions of the committees seem to be taken care of before the committees meet. The untidy minorities of whatever complexion are swept under the platform, where they lie in a clutter on which democracy dozes. No wonder it’s so wild at night in the hotel. Nothing really happens to the delegate in the daytime. STUART LONG, from whom a convention was recently wrested by the .good-natured insistence of those in power, said the other day we ought to abolish these anachronistic conventions and adopt the direct primary. -Whynot? We have the technology for direCt primaries. Every person’s vote Avould be counted \(oh, almost Politicians would be decided instead of deciding. But let’s be realistic! Power, gentlemen, that’s the game. It’s not procedures that count, it’s the results. Now if we can . . R.D. “We Need a Candidate Who’s Good for the Local Ticket.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch THE TEXAS OBSERVER . Page 5 July 1, 1960 Johnson’s Method The Convention System