OBSERVATIONS Something Is About to Break Tallahassee, Florida ALONG YEAR and a half ago, Ross Perot received from his fellow Americans 20 million votes for President. That was the largest vote of no confidence in both the Democratic and Republican parties in modem times. Then, in a special election in Texas, the personal choice of the Democratic Governor, Ann Richards, for U.S. Senator, a two-timeloser conservative Demopublican named Bob Krueger, was smashed to bits by his Republican opponent for the Senate seat, Kay Hutchison. As Sam Attlesey summarized the outcome in the Dallas Morning News, “Mr. Krueger carried only 15 of the state’s 254 counties. He lost every region, including Democratic strongholds of East and South Texas. Mr. Krueger even lost his home county of Comal by a 2-1 ratio.” Ms. Richards said that if she had it to do over again, she would probably appoint Krueger again. Yet this Democratic governor could have appointed former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, who would have defeated Hutchison. And this seated Democratic governor according to our sources did not even ask Texas Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Doggett, who wanted the Senate appointment, if he was interested: Doggett is now running for the U.S. House of Representatives from Central Texas and of course will be elected. Ms. Richards obviously carried out the wishes of Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen in picking Krueger to succeed him, and in the act of taking office, Krueger said, concerning Bentsen, “The people of Texas … would like me to walk in his footsteps.” Obviously Bentsen, Richards and Krueger knew as much about the people of Texas as a blind groundhog knows about the Athenian Republic. Senator Hutchison, Senator Bentsen’ s successor, was then indicted on charges of illegal behavior in public office, but she has been saved this year by the decision of her prosecutor, the principled Ronnie Earle, to refuse to go to trial against her rather than what he regards, rightly or wrongly, as a grave risk that the judge would bar from the trial the evidence against her and then seal that evidence away from public view. So she got a walk; when Earle refused to go to trial without rulings the judge would not yet make, the judge ordered the newly seated jury to find her not guilty. Afew years before all this, the crusading liberal Democratic Attorney General of the state, Jim Mattox, while running against Ann Richards for governor, had failed but in truth, had refused to explain a large sum of money which concerned him personally and which had become available as a result of the friendship and consideration of a leading figure in the Texas savings and loan scandals, which scandals Mattox, the state’s leading officer of the law, had failed to either investigate or prosecute, stating that the reason he did not was that the feds were doing it. Richards defeated Mattox for many reasons, among them the obvious, staring questions Mattox did not answer about that sum of money. When Richards appointed Krueger Senator, Mattox tried to run against him, but Richards cut her nemesis off at the pass of modern American pollutics, the large and selfish contributions of rich and selfish persons and corporations. Mattox is running now for the Democratic nomination for the full six-year term in the Senate. The incumbent Kay Hutchison, naturally, is seeking to keep the Senate seat for herself. Thus we have arrived in the present moment. The. Ostensibly Neutral Governor Richards, is in de facto political reality, favoring over Mattox for the Senate nomination one Richard Fisher, a follower of Ross Perot and a Republicrat multimillionaire investment adviser who will not trouble himself by handling accounts worth less than $2,000,000. In the first primary just concluded, which left Mattox standing against Fisher, only one in six Texas voters bothered to vote. The proportion of voting Americans who favored Perot, one in five, was larger than the proportion of Texas voters, one in six, who bothered to vote at all on who will represent Texas in the United States Senate. Governor Richards is running scared, as she must, in her quest for re-election despite the challenge of George Bush the Younger. The Richards-Bentsen-Shipley-Slagle Democrats who blamed “voter apathy” for Krueger’s electoral humiliation now contend that only Fisher, and not Mattox, can defeat Hutchison in November. The reign of the once-supreme “Texas Democrats” bids fair to end next November with two of the most reactionary Republican senators in the country representing the state in Washington and the Republican ex-President’s Republican namesake son running the state from Austin. One might well think, as I, for example, do, that Jim Mattox, having lost the governorship in part because of his misdeeds concerning that sum of money, has paid his debt to the body politic and deserves consideration from the voters in comparison with the indicted, untried, Not Guilty Senator Hutchison. One might have wished, as I for example, do, that the seated Democratic governor, ashamed of her betrayal of the liberal values of her party by her appointment of Krueger and bypassing of, for example, Hightower and Doggett, would have adopted some such charitability toward Mattox for the sake of the people of Texas. But Ann Richards seems to share a certain politically fatal ignorance with her party’s President, Bill Clinton. Neither of them appears to know, or, to know well enough to act on the knowledge, that if Democrats don’t get the people all-out for them, it’s easy for the Republicans to turn the people against them, and that you get the people all-out for you by being all-out for them and all-out against, whenever necessary, the monied interests. Analytically speaking, the question inherent in the current American political situation is whether the breakup of the two-party system is close and closing. The majority of the Democrats, the liberals, have no power or sway left in the Democratic Party of Robert Strauss, Bentsen, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis and Clinton. Plain, honest people who are not very political, or not political at all, and who spend all their days and some nights trying to make ends meet, have learned and are continuing to learn not to trust the winning politicians of either major party, nor to believe them nor to expect from them any real help in work or pay or housing or justice. Perot formed a movement he would like to lead to the right flank, but the recalcitrance of his followers three-fourths of them favor singlepayer national health insurance, for example, according to a superb recent academic study of them hems him in somewhat. Some serious thought is occurring in the Northeast, Texas and California about organizing a single national movement composed of the nation’ s tens of thousands of progressive activists. The sudden increase of interest in new methods of casting and counting votes, such as cumulative voting and the proportional representation systems used throughout Western Europe, arises, too, from the impotence of public opinion and popular action to truly change the arrangements of society as these are controlled now by the giant corporations through the closed, unaccountable, irresponsible two-party system of our country. This year, again, Texas voters are presented tasteless choices by that system. In my opinion, something is about to break R.D. 4 MARCH 25, 1994
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