all of you. My colleague Senator Phil Gramm tells me that this is one of the few places I can come in this oil state without being looked at like Exxon. The Exxon analogy is not too far off though. We liberals did not make that big conservative mess in Washington, but we are sure doing our best to clean it up. It will take a little longer than I wanted, but I think we will get it cleaned up just fine in 1992. Let me say on a personal note, I learned long ago from President Kennedy that it is not all that far from Boston to Austin. I know that a policy which hurts the energy producer in Texas cannot in the end save the energy consumer in Massachusetts. My brother became president because he carried the Lone Star State, and I know the special feeling he had for the people and the State of Texas. He was coming to speak to the Texas Democratic Committee on that date in November 1963, and his words are as true now as they were 26 years ago: “The historic bonds which unite Texas and the Democratic Party are no temporary union of convenience. We are united instead by a common history and heritage, a respect for the deeds of the past and the needs of the future. That is the kind of state Texas has always been, the kind of vision which Texas has always possessed, and that is the reason why Texas will always be basically Democratic.” The real reason I am here this evening is to join in this honor to two famous institutions who believe in that vision and who have kept up that faith. The Texas Observer is unique and so is Ralph Yarborough. Neither the magazine nor the man have ever chosen the easy way or yielded to pressure and power or even at the toughest moments ever flinched when the eyes of the Texas establishment were upon you. Given the Observer’s sense of commitment, its capacity for outrage and injustice, and its determination that even the most disquieting truth must. be told, if printing didn’t exist, Ronnie Dugger would have to invent it. The Observer is not slick or glossy, just tough-minded and penetrating. It discomforts the comfortable, deflates the pompous, and challenges entrenched preconceptions, even its own. The Observer is a light in the Lone Star State, seeing into corners that others would rather see left dark and dusky. By the reckoning of the Texas establishment the Observer is always stirring up trouble, and in any fair accounting that is one of the things you should be proudest of. And how appropriate it is that the individual you are honoring tonight is Ralph Yarborough, for he spent a long time, an entire career stirring things up, he was always in trouble and for all the right reasons. In 1960 he supported a young senator from Massachusetts for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was denied his Billie Carr, of Houston, spoke about seat in the Texas delegation, and it was said that Ralph Yarborough was in a heap of trouble. In the years that followed while others from the old Confederacy stood in the schoolhouse door or stood timidly on the sidelines, afraid to follow their conscience, Ralph Yarborough stood plainly and unequivocally for civil rights and, yes, once again they said that Ralph Yarborough was in deep trouble. And during the war in Vietnam when it would have been politic for him to be quiet, when many would have understood if he had been cautious, Ralph Yarborough spoke for peace on the floor of the Senate and across the state of Texas, and they said once more that Ralph Yarborough was in trouble. ALAN POGUE Maybe the troubles he caused did catch up to him in that last Senate election, but Ralph, what glorious and important troubles they were. You did more in two terms than most senators could do in three, four, or five terms in the United States Senate. Today, Ralph, I hold your seat in the United States Senate, the chairmanship of the Senate Labor Committee, and I still think of that seat as the Ralph Yarborough seat. When I look back on your career and contribution I think to myself that instead of safe, soft-spoken, sanitized politicians, politicians whose central purpose is to offend no one, what America desperately needs is more troublemakers like Ralph Yarborough and more of the kind of trouble you caused. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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