Austin Robert Kennedy was the most responsible radical and the most radical responsible in American politics. I favored him for the Democratic nomination for this reason. After his brother’s assassination, I began watching him closely with an awareness that I was a spectator of the drama in which he was personally trapped. I read what I could find about him; I began receiving his newsletters and speeches. He was touched with the knowledge that knowing death gives. Power could be flicked from the mighty by a bullet, always he knew it, and accepting it, he made a decision that should not be specified or described; it was manifest. It was manifest in his courage; in his eloquence from despair, in his fatalistic hope. He made the most fun of himself because he knew the reality of mortality, the absurdity of glory. His brother’s death made him a rare and passionate man. The people, in general, learned this, from television, as he lay dying. The Unit Rule The unit rule is wrong because it is a limitation on democracy for which there is no need or justification. There is no need, and there is no justification, for wiping out proportional representation at each ascending level in the convention system of the political parties. The will of the people is more truly and just as workably expressed by proportional representation based on the divisions of opinion at each level of the convention system. The result of the unit rule is a distorting refraction which makes possible the nomination of our presendential candidates by political bosses with sufficient swing to make the multiplicity of views in their own bailiwicks into a single club which they grab and swing for their own benefit. The unit rule is the same thing, in practice, as political bossism whether the boss is liberal, conservative, black, white, Democrat, Republican. Thanks and Regard In my opinion, Don Yarborough would have been nominated for the governorship but for the general reaction against “the riots.” Yarborough’s campaign was even-tempered; his television programs were sound, progressive, and occasionally downright inspired. He emitted the customary campaign sounds shaped to appeal to moderates and the apolitical, but his programming was basically liberal. 12 The Texas Observer What he could not do much about, one way or the other, was the whole situation, the failure of the war on poverty, the unrest in the ghettoes, growing insecurity among urban whites. Let it be noted that, despite this whole situation, he polled more than 45% of the votes. His total, near 622,000, is substantially larger than his previous high, the 538,000 votes he obtained in the 1962 primary. He accomplished 45% of the v o t e with all the daily newspapers in Texas lined up like well-trained seals for the incumbent lieutenant governor. Ten days before the first primary, the big money met, ditched Eugene Locke, and settled on Smith. Thereafter, Smith probably lost more time trying to spend all his money than he did shaking hands. Even so, Don Yarborough got nine votes out of twenty. The idea that Texas is a hide-bound conservative state won’t wash. For instance, Sen. Ralph Yarborough has not scored less than 55% of the votes since 1957. Once a friend of the people breaks through to incumbency once he breaks through the big press, the big money, and the big defeatism he can stay in office and do some good. My point is simple. The cause of liberalism is still a vigorous cause in Texas and people devoted to the public weal owe Don Yarborough and his dedicated campaign workers thanks and regard. Memorandum Memorandum to Gov. John Connally, Lt. Gov. Preston Smith, and the Texas leg :islature: According to Robert Heard, the AP reporter who was shot from the top of the University of Texas tower by Charles Whitman, 842 persons were murdered by firearms in Texas last year. End of memo I favor the registration of the ownership and ballistics characteristics of all firearms, many additional commonsense restrictions on their ownership, and a constitutional amendment if necessary. Ideally, I would prefer a gunless society. Practically, I believe responsibility for every gun should be recorded for the public protection. The ownership of pistols by civilians should be outlawed, with necessary exceptions taking the form of authorized rentals for limited periods of time. To Face Reality “Let us not then obscure reality in a vague, rosy haze of faint hopes. Let us face reality … and then move as best we can to improve upon it.” So said Lt. Gov. Smith to the state Democratic convention. I say, Good; let’s go to it. For it is true that promises that are not kept make the situation worse, and as Smith, in all likelihood the next governor of Texas, has every right to hold liberal promise-makers to that fact, so do liberals have every right to hold Smith to his resolve: “Let us face reality … and then move as best we can to improve upon it.” It is true, as Smith also said in Dallas, that “Men of good will can no longer afford the dubious luxury of partisan recriminations.” Differences, and sharply fought, are good and necessary. The acceptance of habitual alignments as a way of thinking, are not, for the troubles of these days cannot be eased without all the resources we have. We cannot discount good will that can cause improvement or good faith that is open-minded; we need all the strength we have. “The bell that tolled for Senator Robert F. Kennedy tolls for us, too,” Smith said. “He played by the rules of the game; and he stood for something.” What does Smith stand for? Here, past his election crisis, he says, in very general terms: adequate financing of state services, education for all, “jobs for all Texans who are sound in mind and body, proper treatment for those who are not, help for those who cannot help themselves,” pure water and air, law and order. But what do these generalities mean? The lieutenant governor has six months to think that question over. Then, in January, 1969, he will stand in the well of the house and become a governoror another of the nonentities we have suffered. Verbal liberalism is now so commonplace, the leading Establishment candidates practice it. Ben Barnes, also speaking in Dallas, sounded like a man with the concerns of a liberal in some of the things he said: “. . . some of us stand in a sewer of pollution,” many of us are “clogged in massive traffic jams,” there “isn’t enough water,” parks are crowded, “there are hungry children right here in Texas,” many citizens are “still denied basic rights because of the color of their -Ain or their religious convictions.” Despite John Connally’s claims of accomplishment in “education,” Barnes declared that “. . . the education we offer [our young people] is sadly lacking in excellence, from the pre-school level through the graduate level of our higher education system.” Barnes does not say what he, as lieutenant governor, will do about any of these things, but he conveys a sense of being in on the ground floor of a new period in Texas. Will these new birds be birds of compassion or of prey? We shall see, but only by watching closely, for they sing most democratic songs. Neither Smith nor Barnes show any inclination to revert to the Texas conservatives’ ruling cliches of the 1950’s. Far from reviving the Shivers demago Observations INN MA. Robert Kennedy
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