Page 13


The Texas OBSERVER c’ The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1978 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 70, No. 23 December 1, 1978 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Demo crat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower ASSOCIATE EDITORS Linda Rocawich Eric Hartman EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Susan Reid, Beth Epstein ASSISTANT EDITORS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob Sindermann STAFF ASSISTANTS: Margot Beutler, Beverly Palmer,’ Harris Worcester, Larry Zinn, Jamie Murphy, Lisa Spann, Helen Jardine, Viki Florence, Karen White, Charles Lohrmann, Martha Owen CONTRIBUTORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Warren Burnett, Jack Hopper, Stanley Walker, Dan Hubig, Ben Sargent, Berke Breathed, Eje Wray, Roy Hamric, Thomas D. Bleich, Ave Bonar, Jeff Danziger, Lois Rankin, Maury Maverick Jr., Bruce Cory, John Henry Faulk, Chandler Davidson, Molly I vins, Ralph Yarborough, Laura Richardson, Tim Mahoney, John Spragens Jr., Sheila R. Taylor, Doug Harlan, David Guarino, Susan Lee, Bob Clare, Keith Dannemiller BUSINESS STAFF: Cliff Olofson, Ricky Cruz ADVERTISING: Rhett Beard A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin. Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $36. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to The Texas Observer. 7-045t*-‘7iF Editorial and Business Offices 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 What now? Austin This was not quite the way everyone had it figured: Bill Clements is busy arranging inaugural parties while our man, John Hill, is shopping around Austin for suitable space to house his new law office. The Capitol City, as you would expect, is a-buzz with speculation about the new governor’s plans; pundits here are trying to assess what it will mean to have an incumbent in the mansion who is Republican in name, as well as in fact. To me, however, the main question is not what the Republicans will do during the next four years, but what Democrats will do. For the past few elections, there have been clear signs of fundamental shifts in the body politicRepublicans gaining steadily on Democrats in statewide and local races, a political awakening among Mexican-Americans, a precipitous fall in voter turnout, etc. This year’s election is the first to be decided by such shifts, with John Hill, for example, being first a beneficiary and then a victim of the changing Texas electorate. What it amounts to is that the Democratic Party, which has been on a rightward path for more than 40 years, can no longer wander aimlessly down it, assured of November victories. Indeed, the party has finally come to a fork in the road, and in deciding which way to go, all Democrats must now consider precisely to whom they are speaking, and what it is they have to say to them. The Democrats come a cropper First of all, give Clements credit: he ran an aggressive, professional political campaign, and while he did his share of lying, he kept it within the accepted boundaries of Texas politics. And although he spent an unprecedented $6-plus for each of the 1.18 crats deceive themselves if they think that there is nothing more to it than his unlimited checking account, significant as that is. Bear in mind that Hill’s own expenditure approached $4 million, and there was more where that came from had he thought it necessary to make additional withdrawals. It is also a misconception to think that the Republican’s win was strictly the result of slick advertising. In fact, the most effective expenditures he made were on such tools as day-today polling, direct mail and phone banks, all of which were used to identify his voters and turn them out. Most important, Clements proved to be a blunt, compelling spokesman of the Texas excited those folks enough to draw them out in force on election day. As the candidate told Carolyn Barta of the Dallas Morning News, “I said what I believed. When I got through talking, [voters] didn’t have to punch their neighbors and ask, ‘What did he say?’ ” Second, Hill was moving the Democratic Party in the right direction; he just didn’t move it far enough, fast enough, and it is neither fair nor productive to point accusing fingers at him now. What’s important is to learn from his campaign and improve on the good start he made. Hill had pulled together the elements of a new, winning Democratic coalition, but after knocking off the plodding Briscoe with an aggressive, hard-hitting campaign, he fell victim to his own success. 2 DECEMBER 1, 1978