Observations /Ronnie Dugger The Reagan Alarm The strong possibility that Ronald Reagan will become president makes this a year of political emergency. Not once during the 30-year-old nuclear age has a right-wing nationalist come close, anywhere in the world, to winning control of his nation’s nuclear button. Barry Goldwater would have been just as dangerous in the White House as Reagan, but Goldwater never had a serious chance. Reagan must now be considered about an even bet for President of the United States. . A hard-line right-winger, if elected Reagan_will enter his seventies during his first term. As president, he will have the power to kill half a billion people in half an hbur, the power to cause the end of civilization. One of the -great nuclear powers appears to be about to give this terminal authority to an old reactionary who is poorly informed and understands very little about the world. In the general human emergency of the apparently unstoppable spread of nuclear capabilti to nation after nation, this is genuinely a national politital emergency. The fact that most people don’t hear the alarm does not mean the alarm is not ringing. It is. We find ourselves in this predicament mainly because the Republican Party, considered as a whole, continues to be an irresponsible party oflhe rich and the ultra-nationalists. Twice now within two decades, the Republicans will have offered the nation, as one of the two main presidential alternatives, a man whose election would constitute a fatal menace to the human race. The Texas Republican Party is just the Texas piece with this wholesale political irresponsibility. The district-by-district winner-take-all rules in the :presidential primary of the Texas GOP, fully explained and debated in these pages, and only in these pages, gave Reagan a.resounding victory in the delegate count despite George Bush’s finishing a close second in the total votes. Bush should have taken his own party to court to set aside these stacked rules, but he chose not to do so. Closely examined, Bush’s platform is almost as hard-rightwing as Reagan’s. Many Democrats, wanting neither James Carter or Edward Kennedy or else finally buying the ceaseless press drum-fire that Kennedy has no chance, crossed over and voted for Bush. \(We can leave it to the sociologists to figure out how many did this, but one just knew, in one’s own community, that this was happening among Democrats who usually would who may turn out to be okay, and obviously people generally, getting an impression of Bush as a person, have a hunch he’s not really an ideological nut. With millions sensing that this is some kind of an emergency, Bush has been able to hang on against Reagan, even though both espouse doctrines that make no human sense. The national Democrats deserve no laurels for nuclear responsibility. To this day the United States has never pledged, through its president or its Congress, never to make first use of nuclear weapons. We locked ourselves into the Korean War under Truman, and Johnson sneaked us into the immoral Vietnam War, both of which heightened greatly the chance of nuclear war. Indeed, a second main cause of our present political emergency is Carter’s performance in his first term. Carter flacks like John White, Robert Strauss and Billy Goldberg are given to saying the supporters of Edward Kennedy are causing party disunity .among the Democrats. This theme takes our minds, in Texas; back to the Shivercratic fifties and early sixties, when the statewide officials who had supported Eisenhower for president blamed the loyal national Democrats in the state for party disunity. It was wild, the Eisenhower-backing Democrats calling for Democratic harmony behind their leadership but it’s just as wild, and sickeningly similar, that the Carter Democrats this year are trying to blame the Kennedy backers for disunity. The cause of the Democrats’ disunity this year is the failure of James Carter to keep his prothises solemnly and publicly made. “You candepend on it,” he said. He would advocate a com prehensive national health insurance program. Not only did he not advocate it, he opposes it. As Senator Kennedy said during the fierce San Antonio rally of 8,000 or 10,000 people for him, as a result the parents of sick children still have to weigh whether theirs is a $30, $40, or $50 sick child before they take him or her to a hospital. Carter told us he was going to cut military spending. He told us he was going to cut U.S. arms sales abroad. Cabinet meetings were going to be open to the press, he promised. Federal agencies would be slashed to 200 from 1,900. He would overhaul the tax system, that “disgrace to the human race.” By 1980, he said, he would cut inflation to 4 percent or less and unemployment to 4.5 percent or less. What tax reform has he fought for? None. What comprehensive national health insurance system? Nowhere to be seen. Instead, he has actually instituted a fixed government policy of raising gasoline prices and increasing the profits of the big oil companies. This is supposed to be good for us because it forces us to use less gasoline. But that , is pure Republican economics in conservationist clothing. Until the political season approached, it could well enough be said that the case for Carter was that he was a peaceful president. No more. He trumped up a crisis over Russian troops in invasion of Afghanistan as the worst crisis since World War II stampeding the Congress toward draft registration. He is now an all-out hawk on military spending. By the appearances, it’s very difficult to refrain from concluding that he has unleashed the dogs of war in the United States in order to obtain his own renomination. For a couple of months the press has demanded of Kennedy, “You can’t win why don’t you quit?” Even in Bexar County, where this month those of us fighting for Kennedy’s nomination won a clear majority of the delegates, a story in the San Antonio Light dismissed the effort as “a successful exercise in futility.” The fight for Kennedy is being made, first, because the provocations are so severe. But there is another reason, Many of us sense a strong possibility that Carter is unelectable and that means Reagan. In an emergency the always good question, what’s the practical thing to do, becomes an urgent one. The serious debate among Democrats is not whether Kennedy should have run of course he should have, he had to but whether he has a better chance to beat Reagan than Carter. Imagine Carter defending 18 percent inflation and 20 percent Continued on page 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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