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Toward a citizens’ convention I suppose nearly everyone would agree, under the duress of retrospect, that we made a mistake when we assigned the Legislature the job of writing a new state constitution. “What went wrong?” reporter Jon Ford asked as the Legislature’s effort tailspinned. “Designating the Legislature as a convention is generally recognized even among lawmakers today as the original sin.” Price Daniel, Jr., was all primped up to take the major political credit for the new constitution, so he had to take the pie in the face, and he reacted badly. His identification of “callous and selfish” organized labor as the real culprit was simultaneously self-defensive and illogical. He was the one who refused to find out, in those closing days, whether a constitution without the union-busting provision could get the votes necessary for submission to the people. He was the one who insisted that the union-busting provision be a part 14 The Texas Observer CLASSIFIED Classified advertising is 20d per word. Discounts for multiple insertions within a 12-month period; 26 times, 50%; 12 times, 25%; 6 times, 10%. BOOKPLATES. Free catalog. Many beautiful designs. Special designing too. Address: BOOKPLATES, P.O. Box 28-1, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. MINNIE L. HAMMETT TYPING SERVICE \(formerly associated with Marjorie Ann Reports, manuscripts, theses, dissertations, mimeographing, multilithing. Reasonable rates. Open weekends. Free refreshments. 442-7008. Austin. PLAYING THE RECORDER IS EASY. Free catalog, best recorders, recorder music. Beginner’s Pearwood Soprano Book, $11.95. Amster Music, 1624 Lavaca, Austin. GUITAR PICKERS. Buy your guitar strings from us and save 20%. Mail orders accepted. Amster Music, 1624 Lavaca, Austin. YOUR BOOK PRINTED from well-typed manuscript. Any quantity economical. BIOGRAPHY PRESS, Rt. 1, Box 745, Aransas Pass, Texas 78336. WRITERS: “UNSALEABLE” MANUSCRIPT? Try AUTHOR AID ASSOCIATES, Dept. TO, 340 East 52nd Street, N.Y.C. 10022. MIDWIFE. Registered, Austin Health Department. 3,500 Natural Homebirths. Norman Casserly, Agarita Ranch, Dripping Springs, 78620. Observations I I prescription for a re-run of the fiasco. There is a better way better for the people as well as for the politicians. The next Legislature should set a date for the election of a constitutional convention from the whole citizenry and let the people write their own constitution, as they have the most fundamental right to do. The documents prepared by the constitutional commission and by the Legislature-as-convention would be a starting-place for the work of the citizens’ convention, from which they could proceed to write a new constitution without fear of political reprisals and without the bias toward the legislative branch that the legislators so often displayed. It should include a new bill of rights \(which could only expand, since a state cannot contract, our constitutional create a better impression as a leader than he has, he might call on the Legislature to toss the ball now to a citizens’ convention. Follow the Boss The tradition that the Democrats’ September state convention is “the governor’s convention” is of a piece with the boss rule in politics that has no place in a modern democracy. The fiction that all good little Democrats should kick under to whatever the governor wants at that convention was promoted by every governor inclined to bossism and by all the other politicians who prefer bossism to the democratic process. “Follow the boss” is also a useful idea for politicians trying to make themselves “favorite sons” for president. Lyndon Johnson had the unit rule to enforce his bossism in Texas in 1956 and 1960, but now Lloyd Bentsen has a different problem. The unit rule is outlawed; there is no way to wipe out the delegates who favor, say, Kennedy, or Mondale, by voting to require them to be for somebody else. Every delegate to the September convention this month who still has an open mind on the presidential nomination should object, on two counts, to the tradition that “it’s the governor’s convention.” First, it’s not, it’s the people’s convention, and the delegates represent the people who sent them there. Second, the present governor, Briscoe, has locked himself to Bentsen’s candidacy. As the AP reported again last April 7, Briscoe says Bentsen is “the man who should be the next President of the United States.” You can’t follow Briscoe without following Bentsen. of the package. He thus brought to focus and became the agent of the reactionary “right-to-work” forces. When Harry Hubbard of the Texas AFL-CIO concluded, from the right-to-work drive, that “the corporations are out to run this country,” he was right, and he was right, too, in fighting the whole constitution rather than submit to “right-to-work.” I do not at all agree that right-to-work was “a meaningless issue.” The argument that it was served as a useful tool for people trying to get it set aside so they could pass a constitution, but it was meaningful in both practical and symbolic ways. It was argued that Section 14-B of the federal Taft-Hartley law was going to be repealed, thus invalidating Texas right-to-work whether it is in the law or the constitution. But who knows that 14-B is going to be repealed? As long as it is not, putting right-to-work in the constitution would mean that the Legislature could not change it by majority vote. But more than that: political events have psychological effects. If “right-to-work” was carved into the marble of the constitution, this would be a signal victory for the anti-union corporations and a signal humiliation for working people and the unions they have formed. To label as “meaningless” such a potent event is to omit, from the realm of “meaning,” public opinion and all that flows from it. Well, the constitution they had scrambled up was no loss, anyway. It was shot full of holes by special interest provisions it’s a pretty day and there is no use going over all of them again. But the legislators’ refusal to make the document really forward looking was even more significant. Equal educational opportunity and protection of our common environment were deliberately reduced to empty words. The legislators refused to give the people the useful right they have in some other states to initiate legislation by referendum. The modern need for new protections for the right of privacy was thwarted when the bill of rights was ruled to be unchangeable. The people who served in the aborted Legislature-as-convention have a personal political interest, now, in salvaging something out of the wreckage. Daniel suggests that the next Legislature do what the Legislature-as-convention would not, just submit the stillborn. babe to the voters as if it was still living. This is a sure-fire