I am greatly honored to have the privilege of delivering an Alfred M. Landon Lecture on Public Issues here at Kansas State University. I was particularly pleased to receive President McCain's invitation to take part in this series not only because Governor Landon is an old and valued friend but also because the occasion enables me, as a liberal and a Democrat, to express my own deep appreciation for the role Governor Landon has played in our national life. Through the political vicissitudes of half a century he has preserved his own distinctive voice a voice of character, decency and pungent common sense. It has been the authentic voice of the middle border the voice, after all, of Kansas; and ''the Kansas spirit," as Carl Becker wrote sixty years ago, ''is the American spirit double distilled.'' Governor Landon has not been afraid to say what he thinks; he has displayed a consistent and admirable irreverence for established ideas and institutions; and he has been a fearless enemy of intolerance and bigotry. He may once have been a Republican candidate for President; but I hope he will forgive me if I say he has also been a representative of American radicalism in the best sense of the word in the sense of using reason to strike at the roots of the matter and letting the chips fall where they may. His nation and his century stand in his debt.
We have recently concluded one of the oddest presidential campaigns in American history. It was a campaign of paradox. Each major party nominated the man whom many observers considered the weakest of its Available candidates. Neither candidate developed an effective theme, made a memorable speech or uttered a fresh idea. Many voters regarded the contest at least till the last week or so with vast and imperturbable indifference. The number of votes cast in 1968 barely exceeded the number cast in 1964. If the same proportions of votes had been cast as in 1960, 7 million more Americans would have had to go to the polls this year. Yet, in spite of all this, the election ended as the most exciting presidential race in twenty years.
The closeness of the contest may be attributed in the short run, I believe, to a conflict between two fundamental principles of American politics. One principle has long since been formulated: it is TURN THE RASCALS OUT. If a party has done badly in office, the sound reaction of the American voter is to give the opposition a chance. The Johnson administration had permitted the American involvement in Vietnam to deepen and harden beyond any rational justification. It hardly seemed that the men who plunged us deeper and deeper into the Vietnamese futility should be rewarded by reelection. Many voters felt and understandably so that the Democrats simply did not deserve four more years of power.
This was one instinct at work in the electorate. But it was countered by another instinct. This second principle has not been so clearly formulated as the first; but it can be expressed, I think, somewhat as follows: HUMAN BEINGS ARE BETTER THAN MECHANICAL MEN. The fact that this principle has not been formulated should not lead anyone to underestimate its potency. In alliance with the first principle, it led to Franklin Roosevelt's decisive victory over Herbert Hoover in l932 the victory, which established the Democratic Party as the majority party for more than a generation. And, when the two principles came in conflict in 1948, the second overcame the first; the electorate in the end, despite dissatisfactions with his administration, chose the vivid and fallible humanity of Harry S. Truman to the unctuous calculation of his opponent. The two principles were again in conflict in this election.
As the campaign wore drearily on, more and more voters were obviously beginning to be depressed by the idea of a mechanical man in the White House. As each week went by, moreover, Hubert Humphrey was more himself, more a free man and a human being. Had there been another week perhaps another seventy two hours he would probably have won the election. In the short run, this conflict of political instinct helped shape the 1968 result. But behind this conflict lay, I think, deeper problems. For under the surface profound changes have been taking place in American politics changes in issues, changes in techniques. To see the 1968 election in full historical perspective one must first grasp the significance of recent alterations in the nature of the American political problem.
The American political problem received its last fundamental definition from Franklin Roosevelt. He was the creative political genius of his age; and he established the framework of thought and action, which has governess our subsequent politics. He set the issues, delineated the constituencies and refined the techniques. He was, in short, the architect of the New Politics of the nineteen thirties. He enjoyed, of course, a considerable advantage in his work of political reconstruction. The Great Depression had made the obsolescence of the older political ideas and issues evident to a great mass of voters. There was a hunger for innovation and reform; no arguments were necessary. It is chastening to think that in 1928 the term "liberal" meant essentially someone opposed to the Eighteenth Amendment. By 1934 it had come to mean something very different.
If the Great Depression facilitated Roosevelt's task of political redefinition, it also left its distinctive imprint on the substance of that redefinition. The New Deal emerged essentially as a protest against the conservative doctrines of human impotence in face of economic crisis. Its concern was with the problems of a society in economic stagnation. It contended and rightly, I believe that the national government was the best instrument available to the people for reviving and reforming the stricken economy. And it rallied a coalition of trade unions, city machines, ethnic minorities, family farmers and intellectuals a disparate and often diverging group, based on the poor and the uneducated and typified by FDR'S political skill. It was this coalition, which produced the vast social changes of the thirties. It was this coalition which, perhaps less from conviction about the policy than from confidence in the leader, supporters the internationalist course in foreign affairs in the forties. And it was this coalition, which made the Democratic party the majority party in the nation.
The New Deal coalition, its ideas, policies and methods, were thus born in depression. But the United States has changed in the years since the thirties in great part, because of the New Deal. Most strikingly, it has become an affluent society. Because our affluence is very unevenly distributed, and because many New Deal ideas and policies were relevant not just to depression but to justice and civilization, the New Deal coalition had contributions to make even in an age of affluence. But the very success of New Deal policies began to undermine New Deal political power.
A sense of common desperation had created the original coalition; but, by using the affirmative state to protect jobs, homes, bank accounts and farm prices, by assuring compensation for the unemployed and pensions for the old, the New Deal reduced that sense of desperation. The component elements began to lose their early feeling of solidarity and to pursue their divergent interests. By 1952 the Republicans came back to Washington. It is true that this was less because of the popularity of the Republican Party than because of the popularity of the Republican candidate. Yet something was changing in American politics. As one Democratic politician put it after the 1952 election, ''The trouble is that we ran out of poor people." This was not, of course, true; for plenty of poor people remained in our society. But, unlike the ambitious immigrants of the eighteen nineties or the politically aggressive unemployed of the nineteen thirties, the poor of the fifties were all too often a demoralized and inarticulate minority who in many cases had inherited their poverty and passively accepted it as a permanent condition. As for the despairing job seekers of the thirties, many were prosperous suburbanites by the fifties and the sixties. The "forgotten men" of FDR, as James Reston has pointed out, have become the ''forgotten Americans'' of Richard Nixon. Affluence thus tended to subvert the old New Deal coalition.
At the same time, the rise of the affluent society has given new questions prominence in our politics. The issues of the New Deal were fundamentally those of what might be called quantitative liberalism. The New Deal program tackled the elemental needs of the American people a job, a suit of clothing, three meals a day, a roof over one's head and a measure of security for old age. Because the New Deal secured the basis of life for so many, post New Deal liberalism began to move on to the issues implied by the phrase, first used by Adlai Stevenson in 1956, ''the quality of life." Qualitative liberalism identified new areas for action such areas as civil rights, civil liberties, education, the humanization of our cities, the relationship between life and environment, the state of our arts. Moreover, foreign policy, which until the end of the thirties was a subordinate and marginal consideration, became a central question in our politics and lives.
The emergence of these new issues cut athwart the New Deal coalition. For politics in the '30s divided essentially according to the level of income. The poor demanded, and the rich opposed, that series of measures, which brought about so beneficial a redistribution of opportunity, income and power in American society. But the issues of the '60s did not square with the battle lines of the '30s. To an increasing degree, politics in the '60s and this will probably be even more true of the '70s began to divide according to the level, not of income, but of education.
Consider such foreign policy issues as the Vietnam war, foreign aid, negotiated disarmament, East-West trade, admission of mainland China to the United Nations; consider such domestic issues as racial justice, open housing, civil liberties, students, law and order, federal aid to cities, federal aid to education, even air and water pollution, even cigarettes and billboards. On these issues, it is the poor and uneducated whites that tend to be the most emotional and primitive champions of conservatism who fear the niggers, despise the longhaired college kids and can't understand why we don't drop a nuclear bomb on Hanoi. The affluent and better educated, on the other hand, tend to care more about rationality, reform and progress. Louis Harris summed up the testimony of public opinion polls when he said recently, "The privileged have become the progenitors of change, while the underprivileged whites have become the steadfast defenders of the status quo."
Thus the new issues appear to have eroded the base of the old coalition. At the same time, significant changes in the means of communication above all, the rise of television and public opinion polls have begun to alter the shape of American politics. Traditionally we have had a three-layered political order with a row of middlemen standing between the politician and the voter. The local boss, the trade union leader, the farm leader, the head of tie party ethnic federation such men passed back and forth between their constituencies and the politician, representing each to the other. But all this began to change. The mass media and the public opinion polls tended to eliminate the middleman and to create a two-layered system. The people have struck out on their own. They base their judgments each evening on Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley and register their views each week through Louis Harris and George Gallup. They regard the old political establishment with contempt and respond to any candidate who sets himself against the old faces. The antiestablishment candidates appeal above all to the students, who thus far have been the only ones to develop modes of organization, which will work in the electronic age.
The result has been to sap the strength of the traditional political institutions. The city organizations have mostly fallen into disrepair. (Chicago is almost the last remaining example of the old-fashioned machine; perhaps the Daley organization should be preserved in the Museum of Natural History.) Trade union membership has declined both relatively and absolutely; today only about one-fifth of the labor force is organized, and, in any case, labor leaders can no longer deliver a labor vote. The ethnic minorities have been turned against each other by the Negro revolution. The farmers are a declining force. In short, the Old Politics of the middlemen is now giving way to the New Politics of mass involvement.
The combination of the new, non-economic issues with the new means of mass communication was subjecting the New Deal coalition to severe strains by the late 1950s It would have required creative political genius equal to that of Franklin Roosevelt's to reconstruct and revitalize that coalition. I believe that President Kennedy had that genius and was well on his way to finding new terms for old alliances when tragedy terminated his gallant life.
It is an irony of history that his successor, Lyndon Johnson, a devoted son of the New Deal, should have administered the coup de grace to the New Deal coalition. In domestic affairs President Johnson's vision of the Great Society offered genuine promise of reconstituting the old alliances. But he nullified this wise and admirable effort by his policies in foreign affairs and by his attitudes toward the national Democratic Party.
The traditional foreign policy of the Democratic party the policy of Wilson, Roosevelt, Stevenson and Kennedy has been a policy which united realism and idealism. These leaders acquired their great influence around the planet because they understood that a fundamental component of national power is the capacity to move the conscience and reason of the world because, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, they paid ''a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.'' The traditional foreign policy of the Republican Party, on the other hand has been to deprecate the relevance of world opinion and to base American policy rather exclusively on military power on the theory that force is the only thing the other side understands. In Vietnam, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, President Johnson, by casting the United States in the role of an international bully, rejected the traditional foreign policy of the Democratic Party in favor of the traditional foreign policy of the Republicans.
In so doing, he badly confused his own party, leaving it torn between loyalty to the Democratic President and loyalty to historic Democratic principles. The Vietnam War was the essential cause of the Democratic defeat in 1968; and the men who persuaded President Johnson that he should embark on the course of military escalation are the men directly responsible for that defeat. In particular, the Vietnam blunder drove the intellectual community into opposition to the Democratic administration. For better or worse, intellectuals in our society wield a political influence out of all proportion to the votes they cast. No Democratic President this century has been elected without their active and enthusiastic support. The intellectuals in the '30s had been the lynchpin of Franklin Roosevelt's coalition. In estranging them, Lyndon Johnson hastened the demoralization and intensified the crisis of the Democratic Party.
I have concentrated thus far on the crisis of the Democratic Party not just because I am a Democrat but also because it is an axiom of American history that the great political debates tend to take place first within the majority parties. Only if the majority party shows itself incapable of dealing with urgent national issues does the minority party have a serious chance to create a new majority. So the debate over slavery tore the Whig party to pieces in the eighteen fifties and enabled the Republicans to establish a new political consensus; so too the expulsion from the Republican party in 1912 of its progressive wing prevented the Republicans from meeting the problem of social justice in an industrial society and gave Franklin Roosevelt his opportunity to devise new programs and make the Democrats a new majority party.
This does not mean, though, that minority parties do not experience their own inner debates between the stand patters and the modernizers. As men like W. H. Seward had tried to make the old Whig party face up to the problems identified by Jackson, by so in the last thirty years men like Governor Landon, Wendell Willie, Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay have tried to make their party face up to the issues identified by FDR. And they have been just enough more successful than Seward to keep their party in intermittent connection with the vital issues of the age.
Both parties, then, have had to wrestle with the implications of the recent revolution in political issues and techniques. Yet in each party the pull of the past has been very great. Like all human institutions, political parties tend to cling to accustomed ways of and doing things. Moreover, older men, who means men whose ideas were formed in another time, tend through the sheer attrition of seniority to occupy positions of authority in a political party. This is notably true, of course, of Congress, which is why (to adopt James MacGregor Burns' useful distinction) the congressional wings of each major party tend to be more stand pat than the presidential wings. The Old Politics becomes a self-perpetuating myth, kept alive by the political professionals, who have a vested interest in its preservation, and by newspapermen, who spend most of their time interviewing political professionals.
The inherent conservatism of political parties thereby increased the gap between the Old Politics and the new times. President Kennedy, I believe, had the vision and will to bridge that gap; but his murder both terminated his effort and increased the sense of alienation among the young, the poor and the blacks. Then President Johnson, after holding out his splendid conception of the Great Society with its promise of justice to the poor and the blacks, proceeded to sacrifice the Great Society to a squalid and irrelevant war in Vietnam. The revolt among the young against Vietnam was compounded by the revolt among the blacks against continued denial of their rights; this was further compounded by the revolt among low-income whites against self-assertion by the blacks; and all was further exacerbated by the pervasive sense of powerlessness afflicting nearly every class in society the sense of the impotence of the individual amidst the towering impersonal structures of modern life. The young became the particular carriers of this spreading disquietude and for reasons perhaps best explained, oddly enough, by General de Gaulle after the Sorbonne riots last June. The "anguish of the young," the old general said, was "infinitely" natural
in the mechanical society, the modern consumer society, because it does not offer them what they need, that is, an ideal, an impetus, a hope, and I think that ideal, that impetus, and that hope, they can and must find in participation.
The goal of the discontented young, poor and black was precisely this goal of participation. They began to demand a voice in the decisions, which would determine their destinies. The vital question now was whether this goal could be pursued within the established political process. The Democratic party of Lyndon Johnson seemed impenetrable; the Republican party of Barry Goldwater and Everett Dirksen unimaginable. The young saw the institutions of American society as organized to shut them out; and the more radical among them began to conclude that exclusion was inevitable in a system controlled, as they believed, by a military-industrial complex. Thus Mark Rudd of the Columbia SDS viewed the war in Vietnam ''as an inherent part of the political-economic system that dominates our country." As the estrangement grew more acute and embittered, the more romantic or irrational students began, with sublime unreality, to speculate about destroying the system through violent revolution.
This was the situation at the start of this year. Then in March the New Hampshire primary took place. Today the New Hampshire primary seems eight years rather than eight months ago; but it was an important date, and the nation owes a good deal, I think, to Senator Eugene McCarthy for his demonstration that protest had means of expression within the democratic process. McCarthy's cause was rationality in Vietnam; and Robert Kennedy soon added the further challenge of ending, or at least, tempering the schisms within our national community a prospect which Kennedy, because of his exceptional identification with the victims and casualties of American life, was uniquely equipped to fulfill. Then murder ended his brave and generous life; and this horror, along with the murder of Martin Luther King, intensified the desperate sense among the excluded groups that some basic ugliness would rise ineluctably out of American society to strike down every leader who tried to embrace them in the promise of American life.
Yet the protest continued to seek outlets within the democratic process behind McCarthy and later George McGovern in the Democratic Party; behind Nelson Rockefeller in the Republican Party. In the end, alas, neither party rose to the challenge. Both conventions selected men of the past men whose minds had been formed a generation ago and who tended to see the nineteen seventies in the image of the nineteen forties. Both candidates represented the Old Politics, and their designations accentuated the sense of mass frustration a condition dramatized in the disorders of the last days of the Democratic convention.
Among the intellectuals the reaction, for a season, was disgust and withdrawal. Among the non-intellectuals the reaction, for a season, was a drift to the only remaining means of registering protest against the O1d Politics that is, by supporting George Wallace. Commentators expressed astonishment that men and women who had been supporting Kennedy or McCarthy in March were supporting Wallace in September; but no one should have been all that surprised. The Wallace effort for a moment moved beyond its racist base and became a repository for general resentment and rancor throughout the land.
In the meantime, the major party campaign was markedly vacuous. Mr. Nixon, by evident design, waged a campaign of mechanical banality and evasion. This was intended, of course, to minimize the risk of saying anything, which might offend anybody; and in the end his anti-campaign worked, though only barely. Mr. Humphrey, carrying the burden of an unpopular President, an unpopular administration and an unpopular war, seemed for a while frantic and ineffectual. Only in the last weeks of the campaign did he begin to emerge from under this burden, to speak with his own voice and seem at last his own man. As he did this, he started to win back the intellectuals from apathy and the trade unionists from Wallace.
In retrospect, Mr. Nixon may now regret the intellectual emptiness of his campaign. For our quadrennial elections are about the only time when the American people as a whole will sit still and listen to a disillusion of political issues. They therefore provide a rare opportunity for political education and mobilization. Mr. Nixon systematically squandered that opportunity. As a result, he denied himself both a definite mandate and a wide basis of informed and active support for specific policies the two things he now most needs if he is to govern effectively as a mistrusted minority President confronted by a hostile Congress and a suspicious electorate.
It should perhaps be added that, in spite of the candidates, the 1968 election did not altogether fail as an educational experience. Though the parties did little positive to clarify issues, the voters themselves began to crystallize their judgments in the course of the year, and the candidates had at least the sense to acquiesce. There is no more astute observer of political tendencies than Samuel Lubell; and I am impressed by the conclusion which Mr. Lubell reached on the eve of the election, "On the two most emotional issues Vietnam and our racial crisis,'' Mr. Lubell wrote, "my interviewing does indicate that the campaign has gained general public acceptance for policies which in time could unify the country."
On Vietnam, the electorate impressed on the parties the growing demand that we bring this hopeless war to an end and withdraw our military forces from the mainland of Asia. In the past Mr. Humphrey had been a steadfast supporter of President Johnson's policy of military escalation, and Mr. Nixon's only disagreement had been that President Johnson did not escalate fast enough. Yet both candidates Mr. Nixon by silence and Mr. Humphrey by declaration agreed that with the growing conviction that we must deescalate the war and move as soon as possible toward a negotiated settlement.
As for racial justice, the Wallace movement may have had the useful effect of making many voters think about the consequences of their prejudices. Wallace tempted them for a while; but then in the end they drew back, and Wallace's appeal contracted rather swiftly to the lower Confederacy. Probably Mr. Lubell is also right in suggesting that "the strength of Wallace's backing . . . shocked many liberals and Negroes into realizing that excesses on the Negro side have to be curbed.'' In any case, I would agree with his conclusion that "the preponderant part of the electorate, in most of the South as well as in the North, is prepared to support a 'middle course' policy that would curb racial violence while still continuing Negro progress."
This clarification of national opinion is an immense gain. But it expressed the process of democracy rather than the leadership of the candidates; and this implies a dangerous disconnection between politicians and reality a disconnection, which, if continued, will encourage further secession from the democratic system. The lasting answer to this disconnection can only lie in moving beyond the O1d Politics and making our major parties responsive to the issues and the methods of the nineteen seventies.
In the perspective of history, the 1968 election may well go down as the last hurrah of the Old Politics of this period as, say, the 1928 election in retrospect was the last hurrah of the Old Politics of the twenties. And, as the 1928 election foreshadowed the political developments of the next decade as, for example, in the rising Democratic strength in the cities so the 1968 election may, if we read it aright, tell us something about the shape of American politics to come.
Two questions will be decisive. The first is: will the major parties now start to do what they failed to do in l968 will they understand and accept the political imperatives of the new age? If they fail to do this, then we can expect a serious growth among both the New Right and the New Left, nominally at each other's throats but each feeding on the existence of the other and both united in their desire to abolish the institutions of civility and accommodation in our society, both united in their determination to wreck the political system. But, if the major parties succeed in the task of modernizing their ideas and methods, then we can hope to continue to fight out our battles within the political system, as, except for the Civil War, we have done throughout our history.
The second question is less important but still not altogether devoid of interest. It is: which party will create the framework for the politics of the coming time, as Franklin Roosevelt's Democratic party created the framework for the politics of his time? Each party, it should be noted, has its assets in the contest for the future.
The great Republican asset is the possession of the Presidency. For the Presidency is the most influential office in the land; there is no better vantage point from which to bring a new political consensus into existence. The problem is whether the new Republican President has the imagination or the desire to do this, The Republican party has at this moment a great opportunity to return to its early and best traditions the traditions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. This liberal generation has tended to write off the Republican party as constitutionally devoid of intelligence and initiative; and, indeed, the record of the last half-century would go far to sustain this judgment. Yet one must not forget that, when an alliance of Conscience Whigs and Jacksonian Democrats formed the Republican Party more than a century ago and when Lincoln became the first Republican President, it was a broadly based party devoted to the cause of human freedom. Nor should one forget that sixty years ago, when Governor Landon was a young fellow and men like Theodore Roosevelt and Robert M. LaFollette were Republican leaders, the Republican party was in the forefront of the struggle for progressive reform.
Moreover, the shift from quantitative to qualitative issues from the economic conflict of the thirties to the cultural conflict of our own day is sociologically favorable to Republican prospects. The Republican Party, after all, is the party of the more affluent and therefore of the better (or at least the longer) educated. The Bull Moose strain, as we have noted, has never completely died within the Republican Party; and there are intimations today of a revival of the Lincoln-Roosevelt tradition of moral and intellectual purpose.
As a Democrat myself, I would be sorry to see the Republicans seize the leadership of innovation and reform. And I am constrained to add that, despite a number of gallant individuals, like the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State, I do not think this is likely to happen. A Republican party on the Lincoln-Roosevelt model would be very different from the Republican party of Mr. Nixon. "The Republican party," as Nelson Rockefeller put it in the primaries, "must become again a national party, the voice of the poor and the oppressed." It would have to embrace the immigrant groups; it would have to welcome the Negro; it would have to light for civil rights and civil liberties. It would have to believe in the national government, like Hamilton; it would have to contend for federal aid to education, like Lincoln, and for federal protection of natural resources, like Theodore Roosevelt. Will Mr. Nixon do these things? Will he avail himself of the opportunity to reconstruct his party and form a new majority coalition?
Perhaps he will; the chemistry of the Presidency does strange things to people. One must add that nothing in his career and nothing in his campaign suggest that his vision and sympathy extend beyond the possessing classes. I may well be wrong; but one feels that under Mr. Nixon's leadership the Republican party will remain, as Emerson once said of the Whigs, the ''shop-and-till party"-
timid, and merely defensive of property. It vindicates no right, it aspires to no real good, it brands no crime, it proposes no generous policy, it does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion, nor establish schools, nor encourage science, nor emancipate slaves, nor befriend the poor, or the Indian, or the immigrant.
It seems entirely possible, then, that the Republicans may forfeit the enormous advantage the Presidency could give them in the contest for the political leadership of the seventies. How about the Democrats? They lack, of course, the strategic advantage of the Presidency. On the other hand, they have a tradition of innovation and reform, and they will now enjoy the opportunity of opposition. Freedom from power offers them a rare chance to contemplate their situation, think their problems through, reformulate their issues and open their places of leadership to young and unconventional men.
It can be said, I think, that Democrats are offered three different approaches to the job of reconstruction. These can be called the Humphrey way, the McCarthy way and the Kennedy way.
The Humphrey way is self-evident: it to insist that the Old Politics is alive and well and in America. I do not mean that this is the way Hubert Humphrey would necessarily have chosen if he had had a free choice. He is a sensitive and intelligent political man who in other circumstances might conceivably have led the opposition within the party to the Johnson administration and the war. But he became the prisoner of the Vice Presidency; and he was also the prisoner of an old fashioned personal style, which seemed clamorous and archaic on the new media. In any case, by 1968 he had no choice but to string along with the traditional middlemen that is, with the bureaucracies of political organizations, of labor organizations, of farm organizations, of ethnic organizations. The result was an apparent effort to preserve the facade of the Roosevelt coalition without, it would seem, worrying too much about the mind and the soul. The hard question, of course, is whether the old bureaucracies can rally their constituencies any longer. The 1968 election does not decisively settle this question, though I am myself inclined to attribute Humphrey's last minute surge less to the effectiveness of the old bureaucracies than to the liberation of Humphrey himself and his subsequent capacity to move into the politics of mass involvement this and the aid he got from practitioners of the New Politics after the modification of his position on Vietnam began to enable them to enter his campaign.
No doubt I am wrong; but I cannot help feeling that the O1d Politics has run its course. My guess is that the future lies between the McCarthy and Kennedy ways. It should have been evident from the frictions of the primaries that these ways are not identical. Now that we can look back at the primaries with a measure of detachment, let us understand that, while Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy agreed on the supreme issue of Vietnam, they most emphatically disagreed on two other issues of more enduring importance. They disagreed on their conceptions of the Democratic coalition, and they disagreed on their conceptions of the Presidency. These issues may sound abstract. But I would suggest that they go to the heart of the question of the future of the Democratic Party.
I have said that the nation owes a great deal to Senator McCarthy. His courage in entering the contest against President Johnson on the issue of Vietnam broke the ice-jam in the Democratic Party and set free a flood of popular feeling which marvelously changed the politics of 1968. Senator McCarthy is a thoughtful and perceptive man. He understood why the Old Politics would no longer work. He perceived that the traditional coalition and the traditional political methods were alike growing obsolescent. He read his friend (and mine) J. K. Galbraith and heeded the increasing role in American society of the 'technostructure' all those who bring specialized knowledge, talent or experience to group decision-making. The technostructure, indeed, became the basis of the McCarthy campaign. Senator McCarthy seemed to accept the conclusion that the level of education had superseded the level of income as the dividing line in our public affairs. Noting the steady decay of the alliance of the educated few and the uneducated many which Franklin Roosevelt had put together in the '30s, noting too the steady expansion of the technostructure, McCarthy would seem to have decided that the future required a new alliance which would now be founded on the educated many.
Some have said that the difference between the Old Politics and the New lies in the fact that Old Politicians, like Humphrey, see America as made up of interest groups while New Politicians, like McCarthy, see America as made up of individuals. I wonder whether this is really so. Surely James Madison was everlastingly right in the Tenth Federalist when he said that interest groups ''grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views.''
The real difference seems to me to lie in the fact that Humphrey appeals to anachronistic interest groups while McCarthy had the wit to appeal to the emerging interest grottos. When a politician tells an audience of students that he would fire General Hershey or an audience of professors that he would fire J. Edgar Hoover, he is appealing to interest groups as specifically and deliberately as any politician who, say, told a farm audience in 1960 that he would fire Ezra Taft Benson. The new interest groups the suburban middle class, the college students, the church groups, the peace groups may be less familiar than the wool industry or the steel workers, less familiar even than the Negroes, the Puerto Ricans, the Mexican Americans, the Indians and the poor in general. That hardly makes them any less interest groups.
It was Mccarthy's achievement to understand that voters were beginning to defect from the old interest groups. It was his effort to put together a coalition of the new interest groups. The inner logic of his remarkable campaign was to unite the college-educated, whatever their race, religion or previous condition of servitude: teachers, students, church leaders, enlightened businessmen, civic-minded suburbanites, the rising professional, managerial and technical classes. This, of course, is why his campaign was so popular in the suburbs. This is why he was the Democratic aspirant with the greatest appeal to Republicans. This too accounts for the "we happy few'' flavor of the McCarthy campaign. It explains why his embattled followers on the streets of Chicago were mostly sons and daughters of the white middle class why they have received so little sympathy or support from the blacks, the workingmen and the poor.
Because McCarthy rested so much confidence in the purpose and intelligence of the coalition of the college-educated and obviously too because he shared the national revulsion against the activist administration of Lyndon Johnson he said in his campaign that "the New Politics requires a different conception of the office of President." Actually he offered not so much a new conception as a revival of the old conservative theory of the passive Presidency as Theodore Roosevelt used to call it, the Buchanan-Taft thesis of the Presidency and its adaptation to progressive purposes. McCarthy simply did not feel that his ''constituency of concerned individuals'' required Presidential leadership on the Wilson-Roosevelt-Kennedy model. Rather than simply providing leadership, he said, the President's duty is to "liberate individuals so that they may determine their own lives." The next President ''should understand that this country does not so much need leadership. . . . He must be prepared to be a kind of channel." The powers of the Presidency should be decentralized. The Presidency "must never be looked upon as a kind of personal office." He opposed ''the sort of Presidential power which extends itself in a personal way into every instillation of government."
Senator McCarthy deserves great credit for raising such questions in this trenchant manner. He has made an important contribution to the revived debate about the nature of the Presidency. But no one should be deceived as to what he was saying. He made it perfectly clear that he did not propose to be a President in the tradition of Wilson, Roosevelt and Kennedy that he (lid not consider this kind of President good for the country.
This then would seem the essence of the McCarthy way: a coalition of the college-educated emphasizing what he called ''the limits of (presidential) power and the limitations that must be placed upon the exercise of power." McCarthy himself pointed up the contrast between his conception and Robert Kennedy's conception of the Democratic coalition wizen he told a university audience in Corvallis during the Oregon primary that public opinion polls showed Kennedy stunning best ''among the less intelligent and less educated people in America. And I don't mean to fault them for voting for him, but I think that you ought to bear that in mind as you go to the polls here on Tuesday."
The Kennedy way, in my judgment stands in sharp contrast to both the Humphrey and McCarthy ways. Robert Kennedy saw the Democratic Party as a coalition neighbor of political middlemen nor of college graduates but as a link between the two Americas between educated and uneducated America, between rich and poor America, between white and black America. Unlike Vice President Humphrey, he did not suppose that the traditional political institutions could control their constituencies in the new age of television and public opinion polls. Unlike Senator McCarthy, he did not regard the "less educated" as necessarily the "less intelligent," and he was not prepared to surrender the working masses even the cops and the cab drivers to George Wallace.
Like McCarthy and Humphrey, Kennedy began his analysis with the crisis of the Roosevelt coalition; but I think he read the Roosevelt experience with more precision and penetration. He dissented from the Humphrey way because he understood that Roosevelt did not create his coalition through the institutions to which Humphrey had committed himself; these institutions were the effect, not the cause of FDR'S success. He dissented from the McCarthy way because he understood that Roosevelt held his coalition together through exactly the sort of Presidential leadership, which McCarthy condemns.
Charisma has its role in Democratic politics. Roosevelt persuaded the working class of the thirties to go along with him on issues like foreign policy, equal rights and civil liberties not because the ''less educated'' then had more enlightened opinions than their counterparts today but because his Presidential leadership had demonstrated his commitment to them and because, for these and other reasons, they trusted and loved him. I think that Kennedy supposed that today's white low-income groups could be similarly saved for political rationality.
He thus did not believe, like McCarthy, that the old Roosevelt coalition had gone forever, though he wanted to reinforce that coalition with the new men of Galbraith's technostructure in their natural habitat of suburbia. But he did not suppose, like Humphrey, that the Roosevelt coalition could be reconstituted from above by men whose names appear on organization letterheads. His effort was to reconstitute the coalition from below through his own intense and effective communication with the excluded groups in American society, through urging programs on their behalf and through increasing their own direct participation in the political and administrative process. Out of all this he hoped to form a coalition of innovation anti justice for the seventies. He showed last spring that this approach might still work. His success, for example, in both Negro and backlash districts, far from demonstrating (as the McCarthyites used to say) that there must be something unworthy about his tactical showed that he had the personal power to rally disparate groups behind rational policies as Franklin Roosevelt had rallied disparate groups behind rational policies a generation ago.
For this reason Kennedy believed, as McCarthy did not, in a strong and purposeful Presidency. No doubt President Johnson had abused his power in foreign affairs, but a general retrenchment in Presidential power would only increase the nation's incapacity to deal with its problems. Kennedy understood that we are heading as a nation into perilous times, that the ties which had precariously bound Americans together are tender almost intolerable strain and that cutting back presidential authority could be a disastrous error in an age when only a strong President can enable us to meet our most difficult and urgent internal issue: racial justice. As never before, the President had to be the tribune of the disinherited and the dispossessed.
So the Democrats must make their choice after 1968 whether to follow the O1d Politics of the Humphrey way, the elitist politics of the McCarthy way or the national politics which I trust will continue to move forwards in the spirit of Robert Kennedy. As a Democrat, I believe that we will succeed if we see our party not as a collection of obsolescent power blocs nor as a semi-precious alliance of college men but as a truly national party, embracing the poor as well as the rich, the black as well as the white, the young as well as the old, the uneducated as well as the educated, in a common fight for a just and liberal America.
I trust that what I have said makes it clear that the Republicans, with the inestimable advantage of presidential leadership, have quite as good a chance as the Democrats to build a truly national party and construct the new framework for American politics. Whichever party assumes the task, the message is the same. The indispensable need is to unify our tormented nation and bring the alienated groups at last into the national community. I see no other way of restoring the moral energy of American politics and of incorporating the grave forebodings and desperate urgencies of our time into the constitutional process. John F. Kennedy said in his first State of the Union message, ''before my term is ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain." People ignored this remark at the time; it has a terrifying relevance now: for, if the American government renounces the obligation to be the active champion both of racial justice and of civil peace, it is by no means certain that our nation will endure.
The next four years will test many things: the intelligence and vision of our new administration, the resilience of our party system, the patience, generosity and clear-headedness of our people. It marks, I am sure, the exhaustion of an older conception of politics; it demands the insights and values appropriate to new problems and a new age. It calls for a creative political genius on the order of Jackson, Lincoln anti Roosevelt. We must hope that the historians of the future will view this time not just as an end but also as a beginning. For, if we can jettison the stereotypes and clichés of the past, if we can confront the realities of the present and comprehend the necessities of the future, we may begin to put the fantastic achievements of contemporary science and technology to the services of a greater society than we have ever known. In the short run, perhaps, the answer depends on our leaders. In the long run, the answer depends on us.