Memo to Me Arnocratic national Committee The national election of 1964 may very well depend on how Texas goes. The Belden Poll shows that this state has not become anti-Kennedy, as deep Southern states have, but that the Democrats have lost much ground here on the civil rights matter. Everything depends on repeal of the poll tax and increases in the registration of Democratic voters next , year, especially among the minorities. Therefore, we had better look straight through the fictions that political pettifoggers are concocting to the truth of our situation here. Gov. John Connally is supposed to be supporting the abolition of the Texas poll tax in the Nov. 9 election. In fact, he has delivered against that cause the worst blow it has received from any Texas politician. It is well known that Negro and Mexican-American voters are expected to vote for Kennedy’s re-election by margins as wide as 30-1. Yet Connally went before the non-partisan League of Women Voters, who had convened a conference in Austin to make plans for the poll tax repeal campaign, and on that platform charged that the chairman of PASO, Albert Pena, was endangering passage of the Texas repealer by talking about Mexican-Americans getting decisive political leverage through abolition of the poll tax. “We don’t need bloc votes to further democracy and freedom,” Connally declaimed righteously. “No matter how highsounding the intent, any drive to bind a segment of our people into a solid bloc of voters, ready to do the bidding of some political boss, is an unhealthy development in this free land. It is evil, it is undemocratic, it is un-American,” he said. You had to listen very, very carefully to realize he still favors poll tax repeal; and even then you weren’t sure. A local legislator has found that in rural counties in and around Central Texas, some people think he came out against repeal. He was guilty of an unpardonable breach of manners, not only because he used the League’s nonpartisan platform for a speech in which he said, in effect: my price for poll tax repeal is a cessation of political opposition to me ; but also because the effect of his speech damaged the very cause the League was there fighting for. Since the Kennedy Democrats naturally plan to try to get all the Negro and Mexican-American voters they can to vote for Kennedy, one must suppose that Connally is willing to call these very Kennedy Democrats un-American. Well: he has. We have not yet seen any evidence that he is a “Democrat for Goldwater,” \(or, more relevantly these days, an ex-Democrat for portunistic as Price Daniel was when the going gets rough in upholding the Democratic president. He is supposed to be a Democrat for Kennedy, yet he has publicly opposed medicare, federal aid to education, 2 The Texas Observer Kennedy’s oil -tax proposals, and now the public accommodations proposal. If he supports any of Kennedy’s significant legislation, he has supinely failed to say so. If he feels any enthusiasm for Kennedy’s reelection, he has confided it to no one who might let it get into the papers; but he did tell reporters that he thinks Goldwater could carry Texas now ! All the evidence in hand suggests that Connally is first of all a Democrat for Connally. He feels menaced by Negro and Mexican: American voters because they do not seem disposed to thank him for opposing the guts of Kennedy’s civil rights legislation. The Houston Chronicle may cry out in shock all it wants to against people who are going too far in criticizing Connally’s civil rights and poll tax stands; the facts remaindo they not?that Connally is opposed to the public accommodations proposal, and that in his League speech, he raised a specter against poll tax repeal that could cause rejection of the reform and decisively damage Kennedy’s chances of carrying this crucial pivotal state. LET US LOOK a little more closely, too, at Connally’s charge of “bloc voting.” This summer the governor’s own state Democratic chairman, Eugene Locke, told the United Political Organizations tion, what kind of turn-out he wanted for the Democrats in 1964. Locke said that in one Dallas precinct in November, 1962, 75% of the eligible voters voted in the governor’s race, and 97% of these voted for Connally. “Now that was pretty good,” Locke said. Bloc voting is pretty good when it’s for Connally; when it threatens him, however, Senate aspirant George Bush of Houston is a quick man with criticism for those who criticize the John Birch Society. His point against Texas labor’s resolution on the Birchers, that it was “reverse McCarthyism,” was very well taken. The resolution suggested that Birchers and communists advocate the same things in many cases and called on the House un-American activities committee to investigate the Birchers to see if they are communist-dominated. In Corpus Christi last weekend, pursuing this subject, Bush said, “Questioning a guy’s patriotism because he differs with me this I’m unalternably opposed to. . . . I get offended when I hear people speak derogatorily about large groups of people, and if that makes me a liberal, I guess I’m a liberal.” Therefore, when GOP Cong. Ed Foreman, Odessa, said in a speech to the Corpus it’s “evil, undemocratic, and un -American.” Why didn’t Connally decline to be sworn in as governor if he thought the circumstances under which he was elected were evil, undemocratic, and un-American? No : this is political dishonesty, and Connally knows it. How could he fail to know it, if he has any savvy at all? He cannot convince anybody that Pena and others who are working for the repeal of the poll tax night and day are the ones who will be at fault next Nov. 9 if it is not repealed. If the governor does not want to be blamed, himself, for such an event, he had better hit the stump for repeal every day, and most nights, between now and Nov. 9; because, as Sen. Tower quick-wittedly said in Cofpus Christi, “Governor Connally himself” has raised the issue of bloc voting, and, we would add, “Governor Connally himself” had better dispel it. No tenable statement of democratic theory can object to any group of voters voting for any. candidate in any proportion they please. Only some showing of fraud, corruption, bought votes, or coercion can bring such voting into question. Who can seriously doubt that Negro and MexicanAmerican voters’ self-interest does generally lie mostly with the Democratic Party now? Each citizen may vote as he wishes; this being a free country, he may vote for Kennedy even if 97 out of 100 of his neighbors are doing the same thing. All that people who want to see maximum voter participation can do in the present situation in Texas is work in dead earnest for the repeal of the poll tax Nov. 9. But there is something the Democratic National Committee can do about John Connally guting John Kennedy on the poll tax: They can watch the Texas situation very closely from now until Nov. 9 and act accordingly. meeting that, as to foreign aid, “It borders on treason when you tax the people of America to give to people that won’t even tax themselves to help themselves. It borders on treason”the Observer asked Bush what he thought about that. “I agree with his [Foreman’s] concept about foreign aid,” Bush said. “I might use different words to express it.” This clarified what Bush means when he says he is more concerned about the left than the right. To Bush it is reverse McCarthyism for labor to suggest Birchers be investigated for subversion ; but for his fellow Republican Foreman to say that those who support foreign aidKennedy, most of the Democrats, many of his fellow Texans in Congressare bordering on treason, well, Bush might use different words. So far, at least, he is not to be mistaken for a liberal on anything. On Eirchero and 5reaoon
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