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of their election is a threat to them as office-holders unless it is accomplished with great quiet. It is doubtless for this reason that liberal politicians hate to see civil rights demonstrations in their own states. Astute politicians change with the consensus but will not risk very much to change the consensus. Their profession requires this posture; if they disdain it they become ex-politicians. Those who take their political cues from liberal office-holders will therefore be involved more or less habitually in the politics of the present. A majority of white people who call themselves Democrats in the North or liberals in the South may be observed to be in this category. They are motivated by the profound belief that the task of humanizing values in our society can be achieved by electing good men to public office. Yet it is understood, when it is thought about, that the actions of these good men, once they are elected, will not too dramatically contravene the current consensus. For those who consciously or unconsciously subscribe to the tactical necessities of the politics of the present; the object of politics is to win. Not so for those who choose to shape their present activity with a view to its impact on the politics of the future. For them the object of politics is to give people the opportunity to create fundamental changes in the quality of their lives. A partisan of the politics of the future asks questions that fall outside the ground rules of practical electioneering. For instance, he may inquire how the election next spring of a given liberal candidate in Dallas will have any real meaning in altering the caste system under which the people of Dallas live. The victor in Dallas would not, by the precepts of the politics of the present, take the relatively mild step of introducing civil rights legislation \(say, to facilitate the would almost certainly defeat him in Dallas next time. He would be a silent sympathizer at best; at worst, he would stifle the efforts of others to achieve more gerchange in the way people live. The politics of the future asks a wide variety of similarly awkard questions, most of which are unanswerable within the framework of the politics of the present. Indeed, as events at the Houston meeting demonstrated, these questions sometimes cannot even be raised, for the very act of bringing them to the surface endangers liberalism’s prospects for the spring campaigns. The tension between these two tendencies conditioned most of the moves and countermoves in Houston. The representatives of both viewpoints seemed to proceed in a very logical way from their own innermost interests., But how trapped both were by the brooding pressures of the Southern past, how logically the actions of one group triggered indignation in the other, and how that most deadly of all political diseasessuspicion came, in the end, to touch good men of each viewpoint! Possibly, by being candid, we can effect a reconciliation of what islet us make no mistake about ita deeply divided cornmunity of political reformers and insurgents. Yet I do not feel there, is an in evitability about this division. Our difficulty, which may be our blessing, is that there . are not enough of us of either persuasion, so that events force many of us to gravitate from one to another mode as the needs of the moment seem to require. The chairman of the Houston meeting, we learned, was playing the politics of the present there; yet in 1962-’64, he was the ally of all those who were engaging in some ventures in the politics of the future, and given the opportunity, he will join this -work again. It seems inappropriate for us to malign each other’s motives.. There is a need for the politics of the present ; he who says otherwise has given up entirely on the democratic process. There is a need for the politics of the future; he who says otherwise is hiding from the realities of the Twentieth Century. Here, in the transitional South, both kinds of politics are compelling, immediately compelling, and both will necessarily proceed. True, they are often contradictory, and pioneering for the future unquestionably involves risks for the politics of the present. But we do ourselves a disservice if we blame each other for this contradiction. It grows, after all, out of the tragic history of the South, and really of mankind, not out of the actions of present-day liberals. Thd crisis of Texas liberalismand I believe what we have just entered is thatis the crisis that faces America over the foreseeable future. It is the crisis of caste, and the fears that flow from that crisis. As a nation, we are thrust into a role of trying to cope with a world seething with revolutionary ardor in nonwhite people who want to breathe, really breathe, for the first time; as a rich nation, we are reacting with the instinctive caution that accrues in threatened ruling classes. At the very time of this challenge, we find a passionate discontent at home on the part of a large and important segment of our own population. How America responds to the discontented underdeveloped world is not unrelated to how we as a people respond to what our journalists call the Negro problem. The crisis of caste is worldwide and our fate as a free people, as a free nation, turns on its outcome. We in Texas are not merely lacking in civility, we are foolish in an insular and provincial way if we personalize our differences or see them merely as outcroppings of factional . divisions. The liberal dilemma in Texas is a relevant part of the larger scene. At the same time, there can be no meaningful reconciliation of present divisions on the basis of our old ways. Real relationships, of course, are based upon realities, not upon mythS, and any discussion of relationships among Texas liberals, white and black, must start with the simple statement that we have got to find ways to begin speaking our true feelings to one another. In a perceptive article published this past summer, .a Look. Magazine editor, an expatriate Georgian, wrote simply that “Southerners lie.” He was speaking of Southern traditionalists, but the observation may be extended to Southern insurgents, including, of course, Negro insurgents. We have been children of a caste system for as long as we have lived, and segregation has created half-men in both races. We think in racist ways, even when we are trying not to, and our important political acts are almost always weighed for their viability as instruments for “handling” the race issue. I do not know one single white person in Texas, including, need I add, myself, who does not, in ways that we are still uncovering, think and act in racist terms. In Houston, I encountered the most unhappy, angry, alienated, and radical student I have ever met. He is also a racist. He proposed solutions for Huntsville without once considering the views of the Negroes of Huntsville who have been enduring the most brutal repression for the past four months. It did not occur to him that his solution might not be what Negroes in Huntsville wanted. Worse, it didn’t occur to him to find out what they wanted. For him, Negroes seem to exist as an abstraction, but not as people. They are an idea in history, a force that may perhaps serve his political purpose; but not individuals whose opinions are immediately relevant. To see a young person writhing in such private pain, willingly encouraging his isolation from others by the sheer violence of his radicalism, to see him, too, knowing so little of pain as to behave like a dull and orthodox racist, and, finally, to see something approaching a similar duality of sensitivity and insensitivity reflected in the actions of hundreds of others in the same meetingall this raises the most serious questions about our view of ourselves. Indeed, the entire debate in Houston over the Huntsville situation took on an otherworldly cast. The “radical” solution proposed by the student was not really very radical; he just grabbed the first idea that appealed to his activist disposition. In any case, it was put aside for a somewhat less activist “liberal” solutionwhose author had likewise not bothered to consider how it meshed with the plans of the people in Huntsville. Finally, with energetic assistance from the chair, the convention adopted a third course of actiona “moderate” solution the chief merit of which seemed to be its high degree of invisibility. The author of this solution had likewise not . . . etc. The relationship between most Negroes and most whites involved in political dissent in Texas can be likened to that .between an old married couple in whom the spark of shared experience was extinguished soon after the honeymoon and who have been living in polite silence and spiritual isolation ever since. It is not so much that we consciously lie to one another. We merely utter polite banalities in order to avoid speaking dif December 31, 1965 11