CONTENTS November 23, 1984 FEATURES 2 Don’t Mourn, Organize 5 Here’s the Beef 5 Observations 6 Changing the Contract 11 Another Mexico 14 The Political Boundary . Geoffrey Rips Dave Denison Ronnie Dugger Fred Schmidt Kennett Cott Louis Dubose DEPARTMENTS 8 Political Intelligence 19 Social Cause Calendar 21 Books and the Culture: Class Portraits Dave Denison 23 Afterword: Two Sketches Elroy Bode insurance companies, utilities, he might have begun to stir some allegiance among middle-class voters, as did the Democratic ticket in Texas in the 1982 election. But representatives of some of these targets were working within the Mondale campaign, so big business became a non-issue, along with Reagan policy in Grenada and Nicaragua’s right of self-determination. Had Jesse Jackson been the candidate, would he have received less than 40 percent of the vote? While there is some consolation in the fact that recent landslides as provides little hope. The Democratic losses in Texas can be explained, in part, by Reagan’s coattails. Governor Mark White reasons that the losses down the line could have been avoided with a Democratic incumbent, like Lloyd Bentsen, in the second place on the ticket. But the losses can also be explained by the fact that, in several regions of the state, Reagan policies had been supported by Democratic incumbents until the eve of their elections. Boll Weevil Jack Hightower, D-Vernon, for example, cannot sing the praises of Reagan during a Congressional session and then run against a Reagan-backed candidate and expect to win. The educational function of a member of Congress can be a double-edged sword. The most important factor contributing to the success of the Republican ticket down the line in Texas was money. The most important factor, however, contributing to the success of the Republican ticket down the line in Texas \(and into Texas by conservative and corporate political action committees and by the Republican party overwhelms all other considerations. As with North Carolina and the Helms-Hunt race, Texas received a double-whammy with funds from seemingly bottomless resources flowing into the Presidential and senatorial campaigns. A state Republican official said that, for the first time, the Republican party distributed some of this money to all sorts of local races. With the oil and utility industries backing Reagan and Gramm in the state in a big way, it became difficult for any Democratic candidate to be heard above the din of Republican hucksters. Add to this the state’s own high-tech boosterism and relative affluence \(also Reaganism, fueled by the orgy of speculation in media preference polls, seemed almost inevitable. REAGAN’S VENTRILOQUISTS ALSO INEVITABLE was the immediate speculation by conservative Democratic elements that the party had lost touch with the people and, to regain touch, it had to move to the right “toward the center,” they called it. Thus spake Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. Mark White said the national Democratic ticket had to appeal to the job holder as well as to the unemployed and should “adopt positions that would not be viewed as anti-defense but as prodefense.” But, clearly, Mondale’s positions on defense and the economy fill the White prescription. He did not, for example, call for full employment or any major regulation of business. The problem with the Democrats in this campaign was both a problem of positions on issues and of identification. The Democratic party is a diverse collection of peoples without a common thread while the Republican party embodies financial security or success. While the poor, blacks, Hispanics, and labor activists found their interests addressed only by the Democratic party and even then only in broad terms instead of specific programs the mostly white middle class chose to identify with the interests of the party dressed for success. It does not matter that the Republican characterization of the Democratic party as a party of nay-sayers was a stupid, shallow maneuver to evade discussion of great problems confronting our society. This tactic struck a responsive chord that could not be counteracted by the Democrats, whose party even in the depths of the Depression had sung, “Happy days are here again!”‘ Mark White believes that so many younger voters went for the Republican ticket because “many of these young people have never experienced hard times. Many of their parents have never experienced hard times.” The fact is that our tenuous “recovery” and purported peace are built on the backs of many foundering national economies, on an exploited foreign labor force, on experiences in nuclear brinksmanship and military intervention, wreaking havoc and bloodshed around the world. It may be that only when the U.S. economy that the Reagan-youth will start seeing things differently. Presidential campaigns are based on voter identification with a candidate or worldview and not on analyses of issues. The Democratic party did not crusade for the little man and woman, the small business person, the worker, the environmentally unsafe. It did not take on the big boys of corporate, political, THE TEXAS OBSERVER
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