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DOCTOR OF TEXAS POLITICS Labor’s Don Effinger: ‘Lack of Intensity’ AUSTIN Don Effinger, organized labor’s Doctor of Politics in Texas for two decades, left the state this week to become one of three consultants to the President’s Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime. Texas politics thus lost one of its most Intelligent, well informed, argumentative, and sagacious observers. Belocre he departed, Ellinger, in an Observer interview, discussed reforms he believes Texas most needs, provided on request his current criticisms of the independent liberals with whom he seldom sees eye to eye, ducked a question about Texas labor, and admitted an Understanding of the new term for Kennedy’s political brigadiers, “the Irish Mafia.” Effinger as a thorough social and economic liberal who is, however, skeptical of the value of individualism that asserts itself against organization decisions. As a political worker who is concerned primarily with “actual results,” he has defended Lyndon Johnson at times when many Texas liberals would not; he has helped carry out the final decisions of labor as an organization whether he has agreed with them or not. He is convinced that groups, not individuals, provide the ‘principal motor forces of social change. What, the Observer asked him, worries him these days about the course of public affairs? “The lack of intensity on the liberal side,” he said. “I don’t think the right-wingers have either the validity or the numbers of the liberals, but they have an indispensable part of a political program, intensity.” Liberals have a well organized program in Washington, but even Americans for Democratic Action has become a practical organization that consolidates gains behind the advanced positions, Ellinger said. “The Administration is going to be extremely productive, but it is not actually breaking new ground. There needs to be a balance, a genuine intensity to balance the right-wing intensity, so government can go on in between.” The young Negro movement has intensity, but not “real good judgment .in point of attack,” Ellinger said. Economics ‘qs one of the Areas where there 4s not a missionary spirit in the sense of ‘somebody really feeling they’ve got a solution and offering it. Pragmatism and practical solutions which may be all there areseem to be running strong.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 Feb. 2, 1962 In Texas, Effinger said, independent liberals have not brought their attitudes into line with changing situations. “I think nothing Is more disorganising than a victory for independent liberals,” he said. “Intellectually and emotionally, they’re not oriented to it. Since 1957, they have had a hell of a difficulty reorienting to having a principal office in Texas to which they have a responsibility. Many of their attitudes were formed between 1949 and 1957. “The problem of what you do with Lyndon Johnson as part of a national administration, doing an outstanding job in the very tough field of race; backing the President in every way in foreign policy; the question is, I think, when you have your background, your emotions based on the battles you’ve been through before, it’s just damn hard to make an objective judgment on what a guy’s doing now.” The independent liberals are in a dilemma, “because Johnson’s changed and they haven’t,” Ellinger believes. The liberals are not sure he will stay changed, but, asked Ellinger, “Where else can he go?” Ellinger sided with his close friend Fred S:hmidt in the labor convention at Galveston last fall. Asked about the Texas labor movement’s new situation, he replied, “I could make fatuous statements which would be meaningless, and any other statement I would make would be non-constructive.” Sweat Replaces Glamor In the last 20 years, he said, Texas labor has developed a large group of knowledgeable political people at the precinct level, “people who are aware that political goals take ‘hard work and there’s a lot of sweat in it and a lot of details. They no longer believe in the glamour theory of politics.” This is truer of labor in Texas than in any other state he has worked in, said Effinger \(who has been labor’s political director for more than half a dozen states at Effinger believes that the new Texas Democratic coalition, in which a participant is bound by a group decision, provides the best structure for progress by consensus rather than numerical voting. The coalition of labor, Negroes, Latin-Americans, and independent liberals lacks and badly needs a central planning group, he said. “Of course, I think what’s happened to independent liberals, by the nature of the beast, is that one of them can make an independent decision and at the same time gripe that the organized groups do not respect the unorganized.” He suggested that Democrats of Texas, the moribund liberal organization which still exists on paper, might be a logical organization through which independent liberals could participate in the new coalition. “You have to have some central planning to have an effective political program,” he said. “Others have to trust one leader or some leaders enough that preliminary spadework can be done. What we don’t have now is the secretariat. It had broken up when the elements of leadership had no confidence in each other.” It was easy for liberals to agree when the question Was Yarborough or Shavers, but subtler questions, as for instance the Lyndon Johnson matter in 1960, broke up the group leadership, he said. Ellinger believes that the LatinAmericans are emerging as an independent political force and are “necessarily looking toward their own troops.” He noted that PASO, the Latin organization, has voted to exclude outsiders from its candidate-endorsing session in February, just as labor’s Committee on Political Education and the Negroes’ Texas Council of Voters do. “If there were a secretariat of the liberal movement . . . a person would report to the different groups so that they would have the same basic facts,” he said. Political Reforms Ellinger’s guess is that the coalition will not reach agreement on the governor’s race. He favors evaluating this race in terms of gains that may be made in the elections for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and some congressional seats. “I would like to bargain on the governor’s race for the best settlement that would include the most state senators and congressmen,” he said. He thought John Conally’s interests and the interests of his friends in Washington, as well as his expressed desire to unify the Texas Democratic Panty, “would require him to be a liberal governor.” “Political pressures on him and on Johnson would be to make real progress in Texas,” Ellinger said. “There would be no percentage in him trying to be another Shivers. It would run counter to any ambitions on the national level.” While Don Yarborough has not been observed in a public office under fire, Ellinger said, “what he says is excellent. He seems certainly to identify with a lot of liberal programs. His motive and his objective would be to make a liberal administration, and I think if he were elected governor he would try to build a liberal political organization. “I would say Connally’s stand would be more centered than Yarborough’s, but both would look at the Republican challenge and the fact that you’ve got to have your program and your llies.” It does not make sense for Will Wilson to run as a Dixiecrat, because the trend this year is the other way, Ellinger added. The major reforms Ellinger believes Texas needs have to do with the state’s internal political structure. First would come poll tax repeal end enactment of a state voter registration law. “Three million out of five million eligible people don’t vote. The biggest vote we ever had, in 1960, was only 2,300,000 out of 5,534,000,” he said. Ellinger would like to see the large counties broken up into separate districts for legislative seats. This, he said, would let each district select a representative on the basis of the district’s own political life, the candidate’s personality and beliefs, and the neighborhood structure. Effinger finds it absurd to have a state representative serving a constituency of 1,200,000 persons, as the Harris County legislators do. This reform is thwarted, obviously, by fear of minority-group legislators, he said. “Texas would be the first state of the old Confederacy in which a Negro would he publicly elected. It would stand as a beacon to the South. You can’t divide Harris County into 12 equal districts without giving Negroes representation; you can’t divide Bexar County without the approximately 50 percent Latin-American population having a chance at more members.” The governor should be given more power in a strong-governor system, Ellinger continued. In New York State, he noted, only the governor and the attorney general are elected. The governor appoints his own cabinet and is responsible, therefore, for the proceedings within his administration. At the same time, Ellinger does not believe that much real change in the way people live will be initiated by state governments. Except for such programs as education, transportation, and health, social reforms will be financed from the federal level, not only because they are complex, sometimes involving several states converging in a metropolitan area, but also because the states have limited taxing authority in contrast with the federal government’s national tax base. Ellinger several years back criicized the Texas liberal movement for neglecting the congressional elections while concentrating on legislative races and state party convention contests. He believes this imbalance has been corrected. “There have been more contests for congress in Texas in the last two elections than in the previous ten,” he said. He noted with pleasure that Republican Paul Eix may challenge Bruce Alger in the GOP primary in Dallas this year while liberal , Baxton Bryant and conservative Bill Jones are contending for the Democratic nomination. That Mafia Kennedy’s people in Washington have impressed Ellinger with their competence and energy. The “Irish Mafia” are the group of political campaigners who have been with Kennedy since he was a senator, Ellinger explained. “They’re a tough, vigorous, wellinformed bunch of people who want to win, they intend to win, they intend to put a program over, and their approach is about as difeet as I’ve ever seen in politics. “You’re either for or against Kennedy, and if you’re not for him, they’ll fight you up and down the line . . . Their political campaign strategy Is who’s got the votes and how you get ’em. There’s no ideological basis, ‘We can’t take these votes.’ Get the votes! When you take that line-u O’Donnell, O’Brien, Dungan, McGuire, and Roachyou have more political savvy and determination than in any group of political leaders I’ve ever seen in one basket.” Ellinger’s professionalism as a political practitioner once led him to offer to teach a course at Washington University \(from which he graduated In spite of his agitation ence and tactics.” His thought was that lust as students study military science and tactics, they could be taught the science of politics, doing their lab work in campaigns. “You could actually graduate finished, skilled political workers,” he said. Political Science He was born in a little town outside St. Louis. He went to college during the depression on scholarships, federal aid, “and such things as that there,” graduating in olitical science. He was active in school in the neutralist peace movement, non-communist branch. He met his lovely liberal wife Ruth while giving a guest lecture on “international disorganization” for a professor who had gone fishing. Among many results of their marriage are eight children. They have teamed up in politics and in labor organizing as well as in the successful child-raising which Ellinger says is his principal qualification for his new work in juvenile delinquency. In 1940, Ellinger took on a job in Dallas as organizer for the ladies’ garment workers, for whom he had done some work during the late thirties in St. Louis. Once he was jailed 29 times in one day in a series of tests of a patently illegal injunction, but he was spared the kind of violence labor organizers had to expect in the thirties. When the Ellingrs arrived in Dallas, the ladies’ garment workers had nine dues-paying members. When Don and Ruth were through, eleven shops were organized, and the union had 2,000 members in Dallas. Ellinger spread into organizing work for the union in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. 4-F, he ran the Dallas office of the Fair Employment Practices ommission until it was closed down in July, 1945. Then he became a CIO organizer for the Dallas area. A number of smaller crafts were organized, including Fort Worth’s United Papermakers and Paperworkers’ local 770, in which he holds a membership now. In 1947 he became state resident of the Texas CIO Council. Two years later he became the CIO’s political action committee director for a territory that varied between five and eight states. In this capacity he came in for flattering attention from former Governor Allan Shivers. Uncanny Predictions With the labor merger he became AFL-CIO COPE’s director for the five states of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, and Missouri, a job he held until this month. He has had uncanny success predicting the outcomes of elections within his jurisdiction. In Washington Ellinger will be the labor expert on the President’s Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime. The other two consultants will specialize in social work and law enforcement. Ellinger’s jobs will concern finding jobs for delinquents and working with Congress on the committee’s legislation. By chance he will not fall under the Hatch Act, since consultants are paid by the day and do not come under civil service. It would not, herefore, be either illegal or surprising should the Irish Mafia become in the near future O’Donnell, O’Brien, McGuire, Roach, and Ellinger. R.D. 11111 Hear RONNIE RUGGER Contributing Editor, The Texas Observer SUBJECT: NUCLEAR WAR, WHAT CAN WE DO? MONDAY, FEB. 12th, 8 P.M.Judge Owen Giles Court Room, Records Building. Auspices Young Democrats and Dallas Chapter, ADA. ALSO MONDAYLuncheon, Travis Hotel, Canton and Ervay, 12 noon. $1.50 per plate. Call Carl Brannin, TA 1-9679 for reservations. TUESDAY, FEB. 13th, 2 P.M.Coffee, SMU Student Center Lounge, Auspices SMU Young Democrats. THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ALL MEETINGS Paid Adv. 01114,411141041111001100111111111101110110000001111111,041MMINDINIMO