A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. Wicker: Well, I don’t know, but that fact alone is of interest because after the early upsurge of primaries in the first part of this century, primaries declined to the point where President Truman referred to them as eyewash, right after he’d lost one. And now obviously they’re coming back in many ways. There’ll be a primary in New Mexico, for instance, which I would suppose is an opening for the Spanish-speaking vote, and the same vote will come into play in New York, too. I wouldn’t want to say yet that in 1972 the primaries will decide the Democratic nominee. In the first place I would think the chances are reasonably good that the primaries will split up they won’t show one man sweeping them all. I would just make a rough guess at this point, and it’s very rough indeed. I would doubt very seriously for instance whether Senator Humphrey or Senator Kennedy would officially enter any primaries. It wouldn’t seem to me the right thing for either of them to do. Hence, you might have two rather symbolic figures in the party, waiting for all the other men to burn themselves out in the primaries, in which case you might have a convention decision between those two rather symbolic figures. That’s one possibility. Certainly it’s very difficult for me to see how someone might establish a sweeping dominance of those primaries. Apart from that, I would doubt very seriously that primaries would be the final word. What I also doubt is that the Democratic party could again just nominate someone in total contempt of what the primary results had shown. But that’s not quite the same thing as saying a primary winner would be the nominee. . . . Raymond Rubinow: Mr. Wicker, would it be a correct inference from what you’ve been saying to us that you’ve seen no overwhelming demand for either party, that the mechanism of American life seems to have broken down; that four major institutions are fairly well dug in, and that no centrist candidate who will unite the party will make much of a difference? Is it a correct inference from what you’ve said that maybe none of the present known candidates will make the kind of difference you’re talking about? Wicker: You always have to put up the caveat against that: nobody thought that Roosevelt was going to make much difference, either, in 1932. But of course he was running with the country lying there in tatters, you know, which it may be today but not quite so visibly and not so demonstrably. So I don’t know, but my instinct \(which as a hack journalist what you said is right. But on the other hand that leaves such a bleak panorama out in front of us, I hesitate to say that, and you see, I want to believe in all of those people. I want to believe that American political life, more or less as we know it, without really sweeping change, that it will suffice. So I’m willing to go against the evidence for a while. But no, I really thing I have to say, if I’m going to be honest with you, that I don’t see the man I’m talking about. It bothers me because I think that we could almost as easily have someone of a malignant nature who might capture our imagination. I said that to Adam Walinsky and he made the significant point that he thought one bit of evidence against that was the fact that Agnew has signally failed to arouse a tremendous movement. I think that’s right. Nonetheless, I think it’s a danger. And what does a President do, when you come down to it? Particularly if you accept what I’ve said, that conventional politics and policy are not necessarily the answer, what does a President do? In the first place I think that in a very mystical way .a President makes a real connection with the American people. Of course, once you say something is mystical you are avoiding defining it further; but you feel somehow that the President, he’s of you and a part of you. I honestly believe President Kennedy made that connection strange as it may seem for a rich man, and so on. I don’t think either President since has made it. That’s the first thing. The President can make a connection somehow and you feel, you trust, you believe, you know that that man’s a part of you. And after he’s made that connection, what else does he do? He sets a tone. Or perhaps he gives you a vision. Or he makes you believe somehow that you really are better than you have been. Or he makes you believe that if you aren’t better you could have been. And he gives you something to aim for. And I believe that what we need more than anything else today is a leader of that kind. I take issue with those who say that we’ve got to be “issues-oriented.” What the hell, we’ve been issues-oriented in this country, and now we’ve got to go beyond issues. We’ve got to go somewhere into the American soul. And we need a President today that we can believe in, who will set a tone in this country, and there’s only one tone that’s going to work: We’ve got to have a President who will set a tone of generosity to the weak and justice for the disadvantaged, and of magnanimity. All this meanness and this toughness we’ve been hearing about all these hard-nosed types, these people who are really going to audit the books and all that that’s not going to do it. Seymour Melman: From 1946 until now, the Pentagon has used up eleven hundred billion dollars of the nation’s capital, and that’s the value of all the structures in place in the United States. And if you allow for the implied loss of productive services for the parasitic use therein, the cost to the country has been two thousand, two hundred billions, or the total national wealth. Disallowing only the value of the land. How in the world can you talk about saving America, improving the quality of life, materially and otherwise, in better style, without posting right up front the proposition that to save America you must put down the Pentagon. And I didn’t hear a line of reference about the Pentagon in your remarks or in any of the comments . . . and its absence is the checkmate on dealing with every one of those issues as it will be on dealing with every attempt to redo the quality of life in this society. Or do you think that’s wrong? Wicker: I think you may be right. POSTSCRIPT After seeing these effusions in cold print, I am conscious of what might appear to be a contradiction. First, I called for a form of organized political action to bring certain pressures on the Democratic party. But in answering a question, I said that what we most needed was a leader to give the nation a new vision of itself. I place far more reliance on personality than on political organization and therefore I believe that if the kind of leader I talked about were available, or should make himself known, there would be little need for the organized pressure movement I described; because I think the country is literally crying out for such a man. But we do not have that leader, in my judgment, or if we do, we don’t yet know it. It is that sad circumstance that leads me to believe that the most hopeful alternative lies in political organization and pressure from the outside on the Democratic party. I am well aware that this is a second choice and a poor second at that.