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Choose if you can . . Austin The co-editor and I decided that this year the Observer will not make political endorsements. I am reminded of the New Republic’s position on the presidential election in 1968. “Choose if you can, but we can’t,” the non-endorsement began. Likewise, we felt that there are no candidates we can believe in, and we don’t want any of them on the Observer’s conscience. I have been chary of picking the lesser evil since I voted for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 because he wasn’t going to widen the war in Vietnam. Instead of endorsements, Molly and I are writing something about our personal inclinations concerning the coming election. Unless a paralyzing case of futility keeps me from the polls altogether and unless some spirit moves me otherwise in the voting booth, I’m going to vote straight Republican like I usually do. I agree with the Democratic Rebuilding Committee that Texas needs two parties before liberal candidates have a chance of being elected in this state. Of course, there are no guarantees that even if the Republicans win, the conservatives will move to the Republican party. But even if conservatives should maintain control of both parties, they would have to compete sometimes, and that would be healthier than the situation that now exists with a monolothic, corrupt Democratic party controlling all the spoils and all the appointments in state government. I seriously doubt that the Democratic Party is worth rebuilding. It is going to have to change a great deal before 1972 if it is to become relevant to the world today. Corporate America keeps turning out disposable diapers and pop-top martinis and telling us that we are living better than we have ever lived before. Americans are free, we are told. That freedom is the freedom to choose between roll-on and spray deodorant. 20 The Texas Observer FAMILY FEED STORE Organically Grown Grains 118 Fry Denton ATHENA integrated, non-sectarian MONTESSORI SCHOOL creative non-graded program 7500 Woodrow Austin 454-4239 Reflections We are free to march \(at least on the that goes on and on and on. And the president is free to talk about how the war is ending as young draftees continue to die so that Southeast Asia can be “free” for American imperialism. We are free to smoke cigarettes and get cancer but not free to smoke pot and get high. Women are free to have babies in this overpopulated world but not free to abort the unwanted ones. Our trees are bulldozed to make parking lots so we can park those giant heaps of metal that are destroying our air with pollutants. We are free, we are told, because we can buy most any kind of car we want, except a clean one, and drive anywhere we want on the highways that are eating up our environment. We are free to vote for whomever we want, only there’s nobody worth voting for. In the Senate race this year, we can choose between a Democratic insurance and banking millionaire and a Republican oil millionaire. Neither man and neither party is willing to confront the profound problems that cry out for radical changes in this country. Like Ronnie Dugger, I’m watching the Democratic Party while thinking in terms of an independent movement in ’72 if the Democrats fail to accomplish a radical reorientation in the next two years. I know many liberals who are voting for Lloyd Bentsen because they think he would be a nobody in the Senate, while George Bush would be close to the Republican throne. Some argue that it is important to assure that the Democrats retain a majority in the Senate. Personally, I cannot vote for Bentsen, not with his ties to Lockheed, and Continental Oil and Lyndon Johnson and John Connally and his bank holding company and his callous, dishonest campaign. Bush seems to me to be a bit more humane. It may only be a progressive veneer, but Bentsen lacks even that. When Pacifica Radio in Houston was dynamited again recently, Bush condemned the action and as a Houston Congressman got his staff to lobby with the F.B.I. and the Justice Department to investigate the crime. Bentsen, who also is from Houston, continued to wax eloquent on crime and terrorism, but he declined any specific comment on the sabotage of a federally-licensed radio station in his home town. Words are cheap, of course, but it’s all we’re going to get this campaign year, and it’s all I have to go on. Amendment three There’s a sneaky constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot. Amendment three would give the Legislature authority to provide the establishment of a uniform method of assessing farm, ranch, and forest lands for ad valorem taxes. It would be based on the agricultural productivity or potential of the land rather than on the market value system now in effect for corporate interests. Using the slogan “Keep Texas Productive and Green,” the Texas Farm Bureau, the Texa s Forestry Association, ffie Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, the Texas Farm Union, and half a dozen other agricultural lobbying groups are pushing strongly for passage of the measure. Their literature suggests that the purpose of the amendment is to save small farmers from being taxed off their homesteads and to preserve “the open spaces of Texas.” Actually, the small farmer already has the tax protection provided by amendment three. They have it via another constitutional amendment passed in 1966. The 1966 amendment, however, does not apply to corporations. Under present law, the owner of the land has to be a farmer or a rancher who receives a majority of his income from agriculture. The major backers of amendment three seem to be the timber interests. If the amendment is passed and put into effect by the Legislature, lumbermen would get a significant tax break on their land while the young trees grow. So would corporations that buy farm land for tax writeoffs and then get government subsidies for not growing anything. So would land speculators who purchase tracts for housing developments and then want it taxed as farm land. It would be possible for owners of land with rich oil and gas reserves to have their valuable property taxed as farm land. The amendment is opposed by the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, mainly because school districts in rural areas would be affected by the lowering of the ad valorem tax base. L. P. Sturgeon, executive secretary-treasurer to the T.S.T.A. says the amendment would jeopardize the tax base of many small school districts and could force new state taxes on other groups. The amendment also probably would further shift the tax burden to urban areas. Enough said. K.N.