To the Editors:
Chicago proved that America is now governed by force, not by consent. The movement must now create a policy program and a new organizational form for itself. Its actions should further reduce the legitimacy of a Nixon or Humphrey Presidency; should make clear that we are the real Opposition (not Humphrey if Nixon wins or Nixon if Humphrey wins); and should, if possible, offer a way for radicals and near-radical liberals to act in parallel.
A line of action for the next six months that might fulfill these needs:
1.Confrontations with the major-party Presidential candidates. Probably Movement radicals will carry the brunt of organizing these, but in many places dissident Democrats, dissident Republicans, and furious independents would join in picketing and otherwise confronting Humphrey and Nixon. They should hammer home the illegitimacy of the Humphrey-Nixon choice and their candidacies and should do what they can to make either of them politically null as President. (If they are evil, best they should be weak.)
- A campaign to vote No for President. (Where the New Party or Peace and Freedom are on the ballot, they will presumably be campaigning for their own candidates. But a vote No campaign would have far wider resonance.) We should specifically urge people to vote for decent local candidates, either in the old or new parties.
- A Freedom Election on Election Day, in which outside every polling place there are booths manned by liberals and radicals, asking people to vote for the President they would like to have (Vote No inside, Vote YES here), or for a President and two or three high Cabinet officials.
- The top five or so people in this Freedom Election are proclaimed a Freedom President and Cabinet or some equivalent title—perhaps Freedom Tribunes. They could easily represent a range of opinion, and all of them would be expected to hammer home their views and the interests of the Opposition on every occasion. Like the Roman Tribunes, they would personify the veto of a large proportion of the American public against the war, against racism, and against a police state.
Around December 10, after we have counted the votes in the Freedom Election, our Freedom Officials call for a public campaign, to be carried on by “our” people in every Congressional district, to write a decent Federal budget for 1969-1970. (Such a budget could include cuts in the military budget of $40 or $45 billion; radical revision of taxes to lessen burdens on the working and lower middle class and to tax the great corporations; the commitment of huge sums of money to neighborhood-based, cooperatively run, democratically controlled economic-development centers and schools; etc.) The budget should be written in terms of local and national needs by conventions in each Congressional District that also elect one person each as delegate to a National Budget Convention to meet in Washington in early March or so to “pass” a new budget and lobby for it with the Congress. These 435 people will in effect be counter-Congressmen and possible candidates for the House, either in primaries or general elections. They will also be strongly committed to the local-organizing efforts that gave them their start, and will be responsible to their district conventions. They should be able to energize such direct action as refusal to pay taxes until the new budget is adopted, etc.
On January 20, we hold our own Inaugural ceremonies in Washington with a major parade, etc., for the Freedom Tribunes. (For those so inclined, Inaugural Week could also be the arena for all sorts of other movement activities in Washington.)
Certain points should be noted. Five men, rather than one, would deliberately be named Tribune both in order to present the broader spectrum of liberal and radical opinion and to carry forward the demystification of The Presidency that both Lyndon Johnson and Eugene McCarthy have in their different ways advanced. The budget would be used as a focus because it is a single “event” which could incorporate most of the demands for equality, political involvement, and radical demilitarization that the new liberals and radicals are making, and also because it has local as well as national implications. In short, the program would allow both the real differences and the important partial agreements of the new liberals and the new radicals to be expressed, and would strengthen the whole of the Left against the four terrifying years of war and repression that now seem to be in prospect.
Institute for Policy Studies