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Texas Observer Endorsement Of John Tower & Snubbing Of Hubert Humphrey

  

In May of 1961, The Texas Observer, a liberal magazine of politics in Texas, editorialized that its readers should vote for conservative Republican John Tower (Above with LBJ) for the U.S. Senate in the 1961 Special Election. This race was to fill the seat left vacant by Lyndon Johnson winning the Vice Presidency in 1960.

The source for this post is the book  Fifty Years Of The Texas Observer.  

The Democratic incumbent was William Blakley. Mr. Blakley had been appointed at the beginning of 1961 to fill Vice President Johnson’s seat.

The Observer maintained Mr. Blakley was a Dixiecrat and that in any state outside the South he would be a Republican.  The Observer said that both liberals and conservatives had reasons to see Mr. Blakley defeated.

For liberals, forcing the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party would give the left a chance to run the Democratic Party. For conservatives and Republicans, it gave the Republican party a chance to become a real power in Texas.

And, with a strong Republican Party, Texas would finally become a two-party state consistent with modern Democracy.

(The Texas legislature is not yet a real two-party body in the sense of a having a majority and minority leader and a Speaker voted on by strict party line vote. In 2007, this is nearly beyond the conception of any thinking person)

Said the Observer—” It is to be granted, since politics is a game of risks, that when the Republicans have finally accomplished their formidable task, liberals may well be defeated for Governor and the state legislature. But they are being defeated anyway by pseudo-Democrats…..”

Mr. Tower beat Mr. Blakley by a margin of 50.4% to 49.6%. So it could be argued the Observer made an impact in this election.

While the liberal ascendancy has yet to arrive in Texas, I believe I would have supported the Observer in this debate had I been around in 1961. 

In 1968, The Observer wrote an editorial called “Humphrey Must Be Defeated to Save the Democratic Party.”

In this case, The Observer did not advocate voting for Republican Richard Nixon. Instead they suggested a write-in vote for defeated Democratic primary candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota.  

While acknowledging that Vice President Hubert Humphrey was clearly a better candidate than either Mr. Nixon or third-party contender George Wallace, The Observer said  Mr. Humphrey’s support of the Vietnam War and his tacit acceptance of Mayor Richard Daley’s brutal police tactics against demonstraters at the Democratic convention in Chicago made him unacceptable.

From the editorial —

“The aim of those on the left and in the center who seek a Humphrey loss…is the restoration of the Democratic Party as the key progressive force in American life. We cannot rely on the Republicans….but right now we cannot rely on the Democrats for progress either; so committed to this disaster of a war is that party that social reform so desperately needed here at home is a fiscal and psychic impossibility…..a Humphrey defeat will restore the party to control of it’s better elements….”

Not being old enough to recall the Vietnam War and 1968, I can’t know what my feelings would have been. The question of voting for Mr. Tower was a tactical question of party politics I can more easily imagine. I think the Humphrey question was one of those things you had to be there for.

Mr. Humphrey carried Texas in 1968 with 41.1% of the vote. Mr. Nixon won 39.9% and Mr Wallace ran third at 19.0%.    

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments