Uncle Ea rl A shot of Long just before he died, taken by a Louisiana correspondent. Uncle Ear Is Missed in Stormy Louisia BATON ROUGE From a Louisiana Correspondent It seems strange, but a lot of the more liberal people in Louisiana are wishing old Earl Long were still alive and back in power. The feeling is not completely unjustified. When Uncle Earl was around things might have been ridiculous, even scandalous, but it was a matter of personal insanitynot public madness. Even in his wildest days Long never advocated firing all the Negroes in the state. He never advocated sending them back to Africa, nor did he try to deprive them of the few rights they have in Louisiana. As a matter of fact, Earl was sort of partial to his “good colored folks.” The feeling was mutual, and they voted for him in droves. Earl thought it was a good idea for Negroes to have the vote. His feelings were justified in the campaign of 1955-56, when strong Negro support helped him defeat Mayor Chep Morrison of New Orleans for governor. When he was in one of his wild moods he might tend to be a little blunt in addressing the darker side of Louisiana’s population, but they always knew that the wild man was for themeven if it was in his own strange way. Earl was in the midst of a fight against extreme segregationist legislation when he flew off the handle in the summer of 1959, the beginning of his tour of Texas and Louisiana happy homes. N A SENSE he was a bridge betwen the old way of doing things in the South and the inevitable. He favored paternalistic treatment of Negroes. He still believed in Uncle Tom. He was far from being a liberal on race, but he did not create and encourage mobs or make ob scene remarks about race relations. When Earl chose to be obscene and he often didhe picked more suitable targets, potted plants, exotic dancers, and reporters. Now the old man is dead, and no one in Louisiana seems to listen to the liberals and the moderates. The accepted oracles of hate are former state Sen. Willie Rainach and Leander Perez, district attorney of the two parishes just south of New Orleans. Before Perez devoted all of his timeto fighting integration he was best known for the unique voting system that existed, and exists today, in his home parish, Plaquimines. Candidates without Leander’s approval seldom poll three figure votes in Plaquimines. On at least one occasion that happy locale delivered more votes for a Perez favorite than it had registered ,* voters. Rainach, the other big voice of the “segregation at all costs” theme in Louisiana, came very close to winning the governorship in the last election. He ran a close third behind Gov. Jimmie H. Davis and Morrison, and then switched his faithful North Louisiana vote over to Davisdefeat ing Morrison in the second primary. I T IS NOT CLEAR just what Willie wants to do to the Negro: population. He has made it clear tha he’s out for extreme measureshis bills in the legislature provide some good examplesand he will go to almost any lengths to stop desegregation. No wonder the civilized people of Louisiana grow nostalgic when the think of old Uncle Earl these days. No matter what he was, or what he did, he was at least an /entertainer. Rainach, Perez, and the mob outside William Frantz School . in New Or leans are not. A Liberal’s Personal View of Loyalty Oat \(The author is a senior member of a Dallas firm specializing in labor DALLAS Texas liberals, and especially those who returned from the Second World War, found Texas in the grip of a coalition of big business-oil-insurance which had so dominated Texas politics that the laissez-faire candidate exercising his individual initiative simply could not succeed in the political arena at the state level or in the big city. The new man could not find a friendly welcome in politics unless he accepted the political creed of the oil baron or insurance executive. He noticed that immorality was rampant in party office; the Democratic and Republican State party chairman were law partners who made a partnership of their party offices as well. He saw Democratic party offices used openly to advance Republican office seekers. He saw Democratic electors prepared to betray their trust and vote Republican in the electoral college. He saw efforts made to keep Democratic presidential candidates off the ballot in Texas. T SEEMED LOGICAL to this person that an easy solution was to demand that political morality be TROUBLES The banner headline on the Christmas issue of the Austin AmericanStatesman rang out the good tidings: WORLD’S TROUBLES FORGOTTEN FOR DAY. Below the fold on the front page were these headlines : Berlin Crisis Seen Boiling . . . Righteous Race Row Plea Made . . . Reds Warn of War in Laos Row .. . Death Toll in Traffic Mars Day. When the American Statesman says troubles, it doesn’t mean those minor issues; it means troubles. returned to party office, and that honesty be demanded of party officials delegates, officers, electors; voters. So he embraced “party loyalty.” But he overlooked certain facts: The party pledge is a moral obligation, but it has no legal significance. The pledge obligates the voter to do no more than acknowledge that he is a Democrat at the moment he votes and “pledge myself to support the nominee of this primary.” The moral force of the pledge does not extend to the nominee of the national convention nor to the nominees of the primary in which the voter did not vote. Asyou can see, the facile mind found a myriad of excuses for doing little or nothing in discharging the pledge: to resolve not to work actively against a candidate might constitute support in a negative sense. The election by primary in Texas offers no means of directing the political philosophy of the candidate or party officer. Nor does the primary confine the nominating ballot to those persons whose views are consonant with the platform of the national party. The nominating machinery is so controlled by statute that it was easy for the U. S. Supreme Court to find that nomination equates election in engrafting the due process and equal protection clauses upon the statutory nominating process. In effect, a pledge is exacted to support the election process and not, as we are want to think, to support a party’s voluntary nominating machinery. Again, the liberal saw his party leaders saying to the voter, “We want all of you in the Democratic party,” Eisenhower Democrat, Goldwater Democrat, or some other strange complexion of Democrat, so long as THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 Dec. 30, 1960 he uses the magic words, “I am a Democrat”. Democratic leaders, not completely cynical or hypocritical, apparently thought that when a Nixon Democrat said, “I am a Democrat”, he had made the first step to reformation or conversion. But did the Nixon Democrat consider it the same way? I suspect not ! He thought rather that he has been invited to use the party machinery to his own ends. Finally, the liberal found that the Texas Democrats as a party were marching down the middle of a road marked out by the Shiverses, O’Daniels, Daniels, John Ben Sheppards, and Ben Ramseys. This road never seemed to intersect that road followed by the national Democratic party. The liberal found himself caught up in election machinery called a Texas Democratic party, giving allegiance to a “pledge” which he misinterpreted to bind his support to any candidate lucky enough to get the fruits of that nominating machinery. T HE TEXAS LIBERAL who wants to join the world of political realities must accept certain’ political facts. He should realize that the Texas Democratic Party is a creature of statute and not a voluntary organize: tion of peoples of like mind. This is not true of the national Demodratic party. It is a process of machinery to nominate and give to certain individuals the label of Democrat for orderly identity on the ballot. The candidate may be a Communist, Socialist, Populist, Republican, Dixiecrat, Shivercrat, or Democrat, but on the ballot he is a Texas Democrat. The same law that creates this monstrosity also stipulates that when one votes in the Democratic primary he pledges “to support the nominee of this primary,” a pledge which has absolutely no legal force and no more moral signifi cance beyond what the pledgee desires to give it. Why, then, bind his conscience beyond the force of the law? ” A voter who works as an active member of the national party has already morally obligated himself to work for the best interests of all Democrats and the party. The implied obligation to the national party either must qualify the Texas statutory pledge or, alternately, one pledge or the other must be violated. How any Democrat or liberal could have voted for Allan Shivers when he worked for the Republican national party and ran for governor as a Democrat is beyond me unless the party worker construed the statutory Texas pledge to be limited by his obligation to work for the best interests of the national Democratic party. A liberal voter owes to his country first, and to his state second, the obligation to express the best judgment of his intellect on public issue and to do all in his power to brin the best leadership possible to th government. Must he step back fro the primary fights and hope that a good choice comes to him at the gen eral election ballot? If he does, h disfranchises himself, for one of th reasons he goes into a primary is to eliminate the bad as well as favor the good. A S FOR ME, I shall participate in the statutory process of my state. I shall vote and make my pledge. That pledge will obligate me to support a nominee of that ballot when to do so is in the best interest of my nation, my state, and my party and no further. The liberal must re-think this whole problem. We must have better candidates, better party responsibility, and better government. The election machinery must be subordinated to these needs.
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