Since 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto GR 7-4171 TEXAS’ LEADING BUMPERSTRIP SIGN MAKER FFUTURA PRESS .., Phone 512/442-7836 1714 SOUTH CONGRESS P.O. BOX 3485 AUSTIN, TEXAS In My Opinion The ‘Forgotten American’ Austin There appears these days to be developing a race among those who ‘would be our political and ideological leaders a race to relate to a segment of the population of our country that usually has been neglected in recent times, particularly during those years since World War II. In this time of discontent among black and brown and young it seems that we have overlooked a considerable segment of our population. Peter Schrag in the current Harper’s magazine calls him the “Forgotten American”: “racist-bigot-redneck-ethnicIrish-Italian-Pole-Hunkie-Yahoo. The lower middle class.” I have been struck, in recent reading of periodicals this summer, of a growing concern about these people whom we have, without doubt, overlooked in our desire to extend the American dream to minority groups and the poor. The lower middle class, as Schrag tells us, is living the American dream but it is not enough; in fact, it is a good deal less than enough. A nice home in the suburbs, two TV sets, a car, plenty to eat, job security, a family income well above what the previous generation had all these are characteristics of the “Forgotten American.” He is living the life this country had held out as a beautiful dream in the years immediately before and after World War II. It is proving inadequate not only materially but spiritually, as well. These are the people “we intellectuals” look down on; they are the racists who raise hell when a black family moves into the neighborhood, who are scorned in the political dialogue of the “Beautiful People,” who sense they are being overlooked because of our concern about the “glamorous poor” that is, these people who are so poor that their poverty and deprivation have captured the national imagination to the virtual exclusion of those who do a bit better but still are economically and sociologically pressed. The American dream as lived by the Forgotten American is under attack these days. As Schrag writes, “The liberal wisdom about welfare, ghettos, student revolt, and Vietnam has only a marginal place, if any,. for the values and life of the working man: It flies in the face of most of what he was taught to cherish and respect: hard work, order, authority, self-reliance. “Suddenly the rules are changing all the rules. If you protect your job for your own you may be called a bigot. At the same time it’s perfectly acceptable to shout black power and to endorse it. What does it take to be a good American? Give the black man a position because he is black, not because he necessarily works harder or does the job better. What does it take to be a good American? Dress nicely, hold a job, be clean-cut, don’t judge a man by the color of his skin or the country of his origin. What about the demands of Negroes, the long hair of the students, the dirty movies, the people who burn draft cards and American flags? Do you have to go out in the street with picket signs, do you have to burn the place down to get what you want? What does it take to be a good American? This is a sick society, a racist society, we are fighting an immoral war. \(“I’m against the Vietnam war, too,” says the truck driver in Brooklyn. “I see a good kid come home with half an arm and a leg in a brace up to here, and what’s it all for? I was glad to see my kid flunk the Army physical. Still, somebody has to say no to these demonstrators and enforce the American?” WAS GLAD to see the New Democratic Coalition concern itself with some of these problems at its recent Western states meeting in Denver, and to see that the leader of the Americans for Democratic Action, Joseph Duffey, is concerned about these matters. Duffey told the NDC people at Denver that the new progressive movement must concern itself now with “Mr. Average Citizen” the voter, according to Duffey, “who has been most scorned by the liberals in the past,” but whose group now “constitutes our greatest political challenge.” Duffey continued: “These are the people who perhaps earn more than they , have ever earned in the past but who are not secure. They bear the major brunt of rising taxes and carry the heaviest burden of inflation. The safety of their neighborhoods is most in jeopardy because of inadequate law enforcement. “They are,” Duffey went on, “the people whose children are suffering from the unjust draft system. These people have legitimate reason to protest what is going on in American society, and yet they have been neglected by liberal movements and by both political parties.” Duffey sees the birth impending of a “new populism” since the discontent of the minorities are common concerns shared by the average citizen, as well, he believes. Perhaps elections can be won by liberals in 1970 without appealing to the “Average Citizen,” Duffey said, “but such victories will be at the expense of further division within the society. . .. The answer to the omnious drift to the right and to the alarming signs of internal warfare rests without our capacity to take on the task of putting together, defining, and giving concrete political expression to all the discontent in America,” Duffey advised. He cautioned the liberal leaders gathered at Denver that, as a matter of purely political tactics, this task must be undertaken by the left because President Nixon and his administration are, themselves, seeking to address themselves to the “Average Citizen” and to form a new coalition similar to the one Roosevelt hammered together in the 1930’s to form his New Deal, a coalition made up of, as it seemed at that time, widely varied groups. ALONG THESE very lines, New Politics people were both excited and intrigued by the strong race being run by Henry Howell for the Virginia governorship. Howell ran a very close second in the primary last month by putting together a campaign that pulled votes from blacks and low-income whites New Politics people are studying the Howell candidacy for instruction as to how August 29, 1969 15
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.