TRANSITIONAL GOVERNOR A Lament for the Eclipse of Price Daniel AUSTIN Governor Daniel has been as cruelly crushed as ever any Texas politician of standing. It is a saddening thing. He is a Christian man, and one regrets him becoming the victim, not only of the impersonality of organized interests and his own flaws as a politician, but also of his desire to be a decent governor. When Governor Shivers was drummed out of Texas politics at the end of his scandalous era, D. B. Hardeman paused to shed a few tears in Harper’s over the thought of what Shivers might have been. But Shivers the politician was a selfish political realist who understood that during his time, you stayed with big business or you gave up your ambition to be governor. Shivers, like Daniel, felt incipient sympathies which, had they been acted on, would have made him a more liberal governor than he was, but he was too smart in his own interest to let this happen. Nobody really lamented the eclipse of Shivers but Shivers. M ANY LAMENT the eclipse of Daniel, and I am among them. Many’s the time we could not restrain the ugly mockeries of contempt for this hesitant and indeci sive and so often in effective f e 11 o w. Many’s the time we have shunted him aside in the cool poker game of poli Daniel tics because we believe that the stakes are not ours but the population’s, the winnings are not ours but our children’s. This election was one of those times, and this election, good, we were successful. Don Yarborough was successful, and he is a broader valued man, and he will make a much better governor if he is now elected, than Price Daniel. Yet this is the proper time to give Price Daniel his due. His defeat Saturday can be laid to many causes most practically, to the Vice Presi dent’s obvious support of John Connally, support for Connally from the Shivers group, and the enactment of the sales tax. But at the deeper, organic level, Daniel was defeated by the power structure of Texas politics. It is no longer true, as it was for Shivers, that you either go into cahoots with big business or take up shoe repairing. In Texas it is now true that you go into cahoots with either big money or with the liberallabor movement, or else you fall between them, as Daniel did, or to one or the other side of them, as Wilson, Formby, and Walker did. By “cahoots” one does not mean that the cahooting politician has given up his independence of judgment and action ; rather, he has seen that in reality, two complex structures have evolved in Texas, as they did earlier in other industrial American states ; that each of these structures embodies a’ syndrome of values, interests, and day to day relationships that find a common path in elections ; and that participants in each structure will prefer as candidates those who will orient many of their decisions to the favored structure. Roughly, one structure is upper class economically, and the other is middle and lower class economically ; but only very roughly. Roughly, for national elections, one structure is basically Republican, the other basically Democratic ; but only very roughly. The result is not a “class struggle,” but a struggle between organizations, whose age has now at least pre-empted the politics of the Texas frontier. ONE COULD NOT set against this backdrop Frontiersman Price Daniel. In the first place, big money has run Texas politics since 1900, except for two brief spells, Ferguson’s and Allred’s. That is hardly what you’d expect on the general image of the frontier, \(although that image seldom takes account, for instance, of the cowboys’ strike for liberal-labor structure, \(which is very inadequately described by that term, for “liberal” must cover many varieties of farmers and small businessmen, and “labor” many varieties of and absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a working society. But in the second place, Price himself is no stalwart lonely rider of the range. He runs with crowds. His trouble has been that no one was sure which crowd. One can say with unqualified confidence that in his conscience, that in his private thoughts, Price has always wanted to do right. He was right on the sales tax, he was right on the gas pipelines tax, he was right on Eckhardt’s graduated tax on oil companies. One wonders, although with qualified confidence, whether he is Governor Daniel, the Houston Chronicle reported, walked through the lobby of the ShamrockHilton unnoticed one day this week to fill a speaking engagement. Later a reporter cornered him as he was leaving and posed a question about the campaign. “Son,” Daniel replied, “I’m trying to be as gracious in defeat as I was in victory. Let’s let it go at that.” not, privately, rin -ht on integration. But in political economics, he knew the difference between a servant of the out-of-state interests and a servant of the public good, and he thought about the difference in these terms. When, the last week of his failing campaign, he went into the staunch Democratic county of Denton, Sam Wood quoted him as charging the gas lobby of putting “a lobbyist,” meaning of course, one J. C., in the race against him, as, indeed, the gas lobby and its most distinguished friend, the Vice President, had. In Denton Daniel said, as per Sam Wood: . that the sales tax . . . was necessary to pay for the state’s welfare program in the fields of old-age assistance and medical care for the aged. ‘I’m proud of the sales tax, which became a law without my signature,’ Daniel stated. He said one reason he wanted another term as governor is to remove inequities from the law, and to see that the tax rate does not climb to three percent or four percent.” Price Daniel’s mortal fault as a politician was his Christian decency. He tried to run with the big money. They elected him to the U. S. Senate, and there he believed in states’ rights enough, he could oppose federal action in good faith. But then he had to prove, probably mainly for his own satisfaction with his life, that the states were responsible; specifically and namely, that Texas is. As governor he advocated sane and reasonable programs for state progress. A few of these, in whole or in part, passed. But when he insisted merely that business split the tab fifty-fifty with consumers, he ran, neck bowed, into a fact that somehow had escaped his notice : Big Business controlled the state legislature and did not intend to go fifty-fifty with the people or Price Daniel, either. The collision broke his neck. It has not broken Don Yarborough’she has a younger neck, and he has stationed himself at the head of a structure that is a battering ram. In his retirement, I hope Price Daniel will write a book I heard one time he might, a book about Eastern corporations and the Texas Senate. That would be a great service to our history. I hope he is not bitter about Texans or about politics. He played his role in our transition from a big business state to a scene of more balanced political conflict, and we who have been close to that scene, anyway, understand what has happened to him. May he and his lovely wife Jean and their handsome children have many years of peace and prosperity and happiness together. ‘Let’s Sit Down and Read the Good News Togeth–‘ Bob Taylor for Dallas Times-Herald David and Goliath? Kenneth Smith for the Observer
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