subscribers. That was a tribute to our subscribers, I thought at the time, and my faith in the idea that the Observer was a free and independent thing was substantially, but not wholly, restored. Since that time, particularly during the past year or so, I have become increasingly dubious of the relevance of electoral politics. I have come to wonder, in response to the pointed and apt questioning of the new radical leftists, what difference has it made in East Austin, in West San Antonio, in the barrios of the Valley, in South Oak Cliff, in the ghettos of Fort Worth, in the wards of Houston what difference has it made who has been elected to the Legislature, to Congress, to the presidency? It has mattered some, of course. But not so much lately as, say, ten years ago, or twenty, or thirty. It has come to seem apparent to me, in the past few months, that people who care about our society, about other people, must at least consider seriously the questions raised about electoral politics. I suggest that the efforts spent in registering voters, getting out the vote, working in a politician’s campaign headquarters every two or four years might better be spent working in the barrios and ghettos, every day, seeing what the people who live there think their problems are and what we might do about it not by casting a vote but by casting ourselves ourselves into the fray. Further, I think the time of concerned people might also better be spent parading when a parade permit is arbitrarily refused on political grounds \(as in Austin in the case of the parade to protest the Vietnam park when official repression threatens \(as ,show our officials our officials that, when they do not understand or when they do not really want freedom, that we are, by God and by the Constitution, going to have freedom; that it is going to be insisted upon and practiced by people, and all the more so when such freedom is being nibbled away at by the refusal of a parade permit or the threat of repression of people who wish to spend a Sunday in a park. It is in these areas where, I think, our priorities really lie today. As well as in electoral politics. But elections take our time up for a few weeks every couple of years. These other matters are day-in, day-out concerns, and I believe those of us, those relative few of us, who still care must give these matters some of our attention. SO, BELIEVING such, what do you, as editor of the Observer do with a publication whose history is one of devotion to electoral politics and covering that most irrelevant, inhumane, and obscene of institutions, the Texas Legislature? Well, I have sought to combine the Observer’s historic interest in electoral politics with an attention to the politics of organizing communities \(working with and to the politics of confrontation. I have sought to show liberals, who constitute most of our readership, what the New Left radicals are all about, as best as I’ve been able to learn. There have been complaints about this deviation from the paper’s historical role; but there has been much interest expressed, too. That has gratified me, proven to me that the term “liberal” does connote open-mindedness. This has girded me against the charges that the paper has lost the way. The Observer has not lost the way. I really do not think so. I believe, quite simply, that “the way” is now wholly different for people who wish a just society. We must pay attention to the radical left movement; its better aspects the majority of it, I believe have much to teach us. It will not bring about a new American revolution; but it will, I think, regenerate liberalism and constitute much of the basis for the new liberalism that is so desperately needed in Texas and in the nation. If the Observer is to continue in the forefront of Texas and American reform it must devote considerable attention to the radical left movement, not embracing it wholly and indiscriminately, but gleaning from it what is good sound, humane, and valid. Believing all these things, I conferred in early April with Ronnie, telling him in general terms of the doubts I had about the way things were going for me and for the paper. I regarded that conversation as a prelude to further discussions Ronnie and I would have. It was my hope that the paper could be turned more fully into the channels I believe necessary and I recognized that this would take much discussion on the part of those associated with the Observer, given our prior dedication to politics-as-usual. Among the things I would have proposed, had further discussions ensued, would be that the Observer become cooperatively run; that is, that each person who works for the paper \(there are presently six, including editorial and decisions as hiring and firing, the thrust of editorial and business policy, who gets paid how much, and so forth. In this way, I believe, the paper could keep abreast of the times and not be the reflection of a single individual. I must in candor admit that my problems in working my will here have been ones mainly of personality my own and Ronnie’s. I am not the dynamic sort of person that he is and so have found it difficult to push the Observer into areas I have felt necessary to deal with. Most often, day in and day out, I did have full control of the Observer; but I was ever mindful that ultimate control was May 15, 1970 23 Ronnie’s. Altering the thrust of the paper along lines I would wish would, I think, require a considerable change of Ronnie’s conception about the paper’s role. He has tolerated and to some extent approved of the leftward movement of the paper since 1966; but I wish other things to be done and didn’t believe I could pull them off in this context. This is all moot now so far as I’m concerned. The decision has been made. But those concerned about the paper’s future do need to consider the question of Ronnie’s relationship to the paper. There may in fact be no remedy for this situation. But perhaps a stronger personality will be able to lead the Observer away from its worthy past towards a more relevant future. I earnestly hope so. As matters developed, further discussions between Ronnie and me did not take place. After our early April talk, he left town for the better part of three weeks and I did likewise in late April for my first vacation since 1958. A few days after I left Austin Ronnie phoned me in Dallas to say he was going to regard our earlier conversation as my resignation. That was that; what more could be said? He didn’t wish to handle the matter by phone but I urged him to tell me the essence of what was on his mind. I have considered fighting the decigion but I believe that might do nothing more than adversely affect an institution that is doing more good than most these days. Anyway, I am tired and not up to the struggle involved in bringing about a restructured Observer. But I do commend to those still associated with the paper consideration of a new structure and new directions for the Observer. I trust that no one will read this column as an attack on Ronnie; if so, you have grossly misinterpreted what I am saying. The Observer needs to change; Ronnie Dugger is and for 15 years has been the Observer. That is the situation. It is for love of him, of his respect for truth openly spoken, of the Observer, and of the four years time I was privileged to serve the paper that I find the courage to say these difficult things. I close now with the customary but heartfelt expressions of gratitude to those I’ve worked with in the past four years, particularly Ronnie, associate editor Kaye Northcott, office manager Irene Wilkinson, and Cliff Olofson, our business manager, whose devotion to the Observer is unsurpassed; Cliff is the reason the Observer made money last year for the first time in its 15-year history. Thanks also to the others in the office and out who have made my association with the Observer so pleasant, educational, and rewarding. I have been in good company, doing work I have believed in. G.O.
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