To govern is to choose how the revenue raised from taxes is spent. So far so good, or bad. But some people earn more money than others. Should they pay proportionately more money to the government than those who earn less? And if they do pay more money are they entitled to more services than those who pay less or those who pay nothing at all? And should those who pay nothing at all because they have nothing get anything? These matters are of irritable concern to our rulers, and of some poignancy to the rest.
Although the equality of each citizen before the law is the rock upon which the American Constitution rests, economic equality has never been an American ideal. In fact, it is the one unmentionable subject in our politics, as the Senator from South Dakota recently discovered when he came up with a few quasi-egalitarian tax reforms. The furious and enduring terror of communism in America is not entirely the work of those early cold warriors Truman and Acheson. A dislike of economic equality is something deep-grained in the American Protestant character. After all, given a rich empty continent for vigorous Europeans to exploit (the Indians were simply a disagreeable part of the emptiness, like chiggers), any man of gumption could make himself a good living. With extra hard work, any man could make himself a fortune, proving that he was a better man than the rest. Long before Darwin the American ethos was Darwinian.
The vision of the rich empty continent is still a part of the American unconscious in spite of the Great Crowding and its attendant miseries; and this lingering belief in the heaven any man can make for himself through hard work and clean living is a key to the majority’s prevailing and apparently unalterable hatred of the poor, kept out of sight at home, out of mind abroad.
Yet there has been, from the beginning, a significant division in our ruling class. The early Thomas Jefferson had a dream: a society of honest yeomen, engaged in agricultural pursuits, without large cities, heavy industry, banks, military pretensions. The early (and the late) Alexander Hamilton wanted industry, banks, cities, and a military force capable of making itself felt in world politics. It is a nice irony that so many of today’s laissez-faire conservatives think that they descend from Hamilton, the proponent of a strong federal government, and that so many liberals believe themselves to be the heirs of the early Jefferson, who wanted little more than a police force and a judiciary. Always practical, Jefferson knew that certain men would rise through their own good efforts while, sadly, others would fall. Government would do no more than observe this Darwinian spectacle benignly, and provide no succor.
In 1800 the Hamiltonian view was rejected by the people and their new President Thomas Jefferson. Four years later, the Hamiltonian view had prevailed and was endorsed by the reelected Jefferson. “We are all Hamiltonians now!” he might have exclaimed had he had the grace of the Thirty-seventh President, whose progress from moth to larva on so many issues gives delight. Between 1800 and 1805 Jefferson had seen to it that an empire in posse had become an empire in esse. The difference between Jefferson I and Jefferson II is reflected in the two inaugural addresses.
First Inaugural: “a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuit of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government….” In other words, no taxes beyond a minimal levy in order to pay for a few judges, a postal service, small executive and legislative bodies.
Second Inaugural: Jefferson II was now discussing the uses to which taxes might be put (once the national debt was paid off, oh Presidential chimera!), “In time of peace, to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other great objects within each State. In time of war—if injustice, by ourselves” (those italics, irresistibly, mine) “or others, must sometimes produce war…. War will be but a suspension of useful works….” The idea of the rich empty continent best exploited by mean unbugged by a central government had now been succeeded by the notion that government ought to pitch in and help with those roads and schools, but of course that’s going to take money so taxes must be raised to pay for these good things which benefit us all equally, don’t they?
It is significant that nothing more elevated than greed changed the Dr. Jekyll of Jefferson I into the Mr. Hyde of Jefferson II. Like his less thoughtful countrymen, Jefferson could not resist a deal. Subverting the Constitution he had helped create, Jefferson bought Louisiana from Napoleon, acquiring its citizens without their consent; he then proceeded to govern them as if they had been conquered, all the while secretly—comically—maneuvering, by hook or by crook, to bag the Floridas. The author of the Declaration of Independence was quite able to forget the unalienable rights of anyone whose property he thought should be joined to our empire—a word which crops up frequently and unselfconsciously in his correspondence.
In the course of land-grabbing, Jefferson II managed to get himself into hot water with France, England, and Spain simultaneously, a fairly astonishing thing to do considering the state of politics in Napoleonic Europe. But then war is bound to result if you insist on liberating vast tracts of land from colonial nations as well as from home-grown Indians (they were equal to whites, Jefferson thought, in spite of their bad habits, but different from the hopeless black races which had started out white but then, in the unwholesome African climate, contracted a form of leprosy; enlightened optimists like Jefferson’s friend the learned Dr. Rush were certain that advanced dermatology would one day restore to these dark peoples their lost prettiness).
The result of all this finagling was a series of panicky appropriations for the navy and the creation of the American military machine which in the last fiscal year cost us honest yeomen 75.8 billion dollars out of a total of 126 billion dollars paid in personal and corporate taxes. Forever forgotten was the wisdom of Jefferson I: “Sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of our fellow citizens to accumulate treasure for wars to happen we know not when, and which might not perhaps happen but from the temptation offered by that treasure.”
It is a tribute to the Protestant passion for wanting always to appear to be doing good (particularly when one is robbing the till) that Americans have been constitutionally incapable (double entendre intended) of recognizing the truth about themselves or anyone else. Mixing his metaphors, celebrating the empire electric, appealing to the god Demos whose agent he thought himself to be, Jefferson II so clouded over our innate imperialism that we cannot to this day recognize the nature of American society, even as our bombs murder strangers (admittedly leprous) 8,000 miles away. Fortunately, the empire has taken such a shellacking in the last few years that critics (not yet loved) are being listened to at last, and it is now unlikely that even a yeomanry so constantly and deliberately misinformed from kindergarten days to wrap-up time in the Forest Lawn Slumber Room will ever allow another President the fun of destroying someone else’s country in the name of Jefferson I self-determination. As the empire falls apart, things may yet come together again in a good—or at least more realistic—way.
To make sense of our situation a simple question must be asked. Why do we allow our governors to take so much of our money and spend it in ways that not only fail to benefit us but do great damage to others as we prosecute undeclared wars—which even our brainwashed majority has come to see are a bad proposition because of the cost of maintaining a vast military machine, not to mention a permanent draft of young men (an Un-American activity if there ever was one) in what is supposed to be peacetime?
Whether he knows it or not, the middle-income American is taxed as though he were living in a socialist society. But for the money he gives the government he gets almost nothing back. He does pay for a lot of military hardware, and his congressman will point to all the jobs “defense” (that happy euphemism) contracts bring to his district, as if the same federal money could not create even more jobs doing things that need doing as well as benefiting directly the man who paid the taxes in the first place. Ultimate irony, the middle American still tends to believe that he is living in a Jefferson I society when, in fact, he has been for some decades in a Jefferson II world, allowing an imperial-minded elite to tax him in order to wage a holy war against something called communism.
Fortunately, there are now signs that they don’t make suckers like that any more. The taxpayers’ revolt has begun. A dislike of all politicians is in the land. Word is out that the rich don’t pay as much, proportionately, to maintain their empire as do the middle-income people. Something fishy’s going on down in Washington, as the two Georges have been telling folks (that the Georges are a part of what is wrong is not exactly their fault), and the people are responding. They hate socialism and communism and all the things good people are supposed to hate, but they are also beginning to wonder just why they have to give up so much of their income to fight those very same Commies Nixon likes to dine with in Peking and Moscow.
The fact is that our present governors are not very bright, and this may be our salvation. In 1968 they absentmindedly gave us a president whose schizophrenic behavior and prose style (“This is not an invasion of Cambodia”) is creepily apparent to even the most woolly-headed yeoman. Now three new books provide useful information about the small group who own the United States, how our economic and foreign policies are manipulated, how members of Congress are bought, how presidential candidates are selected and financed.
The mold that cast the mind of C. Wright Mills was not broken at his flesh’s departure. Another such mind was promptly cast and labeled G. William Domhoff (those first initials and middle names are reminiscent of a generation of three-named Episcopalian clergymen). A Mills disciple, Domhoff has published Who Rules America? (1967) and The Higher Circles (1970). The subjects of those books are exactly what their titles suggest. Domhoff has now written another illuminating treatise called Fat Cats and Democrats: The Role of the Big Rich in the Party of the Common Man.
Domhoff’s thesis is straightforward. The country is governed by a small elite which knows pretty much what it is up to and coordinates its various moves in foreign affairs and the economy. Most academics dispute this theory. They tend to be Jefferson I types who believe that the United States is a pluralist society filled with all sorts of dominations and powers constantly balancing and checking one another. To them, anyone who believes that an elite is really running the show is paranoid. But as the late Delmore Schwartz once said with the weary lucidity of his own rich madness, “Paranoids have real enemies, too.”
Admittedly, it is difficult at first to accept the proposition that the owners of the country also rule it and that the electorate is nothing but a quadrennial chorus whose function is to ratify with hosannahs one or the other of two presidential candidates carefully picked for them by rulers who enjoy pretending that ours is really government of, by, and for the you-know-who. In the same manner, Tiberius always respectfully consulted a Senate to whose irrelevant ranks his heir nicely added a race horse.
Domhoff’s style does not command admiration. His manner is disconcertingly gee whiz. He is given to easy liberal epithets like “Godforsaken Mississippi” yet forced to admit that except on the subject of race, the proud folk down there are populist to the core, and populist is the thing to be this year. But if one is not put off by the somewhat slap-dash manner, Domhoff has seen and measured the tip of an iceberg which most of the other passengers on the US Titanic have not noticed. He also does his best to figure out what lies beneath the water.
Domhoff’s method is to examine those committees and advisory councils, federal and private, that do the actual work of making foreign and economic policy (something like three-quarters of the federal budget has to do with military and foreign aid expenditures—control the spending of that three-quarters and the US is your thing). He then studies the men who serve on these committees. Notes what schools they went to, what banks they work for (most are lawyers or lawyer-bankers), what political contributions they make. He also records the overlapping that goes on, or “linkage” as the American Metternich would say.
In 1968, for instance, 51 of 284 trustees and honorary trustees of the Committee for Economic Development were also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, while 126 were members of the National Council of the Foreign Policy Association. Or as Domhoff puts it,
Policy formation is the province of a bipartisan power elite of corporate rich [Rockefeller, Mellon] and their career hirelings [Nixon, McNamara] who work through an interlocking and overlapping maze of foundations, universities and institutes, discussion groups, associations and commissions. Political parties are only for finding interesting and genial people [usually ambitious middle-class lawyers] to ratify and implement these policies in such a way that the under classes feel themselves to be, somehow, a part of the governmental process. Politics is not exactly the heart of the action but it is nice work—if you can afford to campaign for it.
If Domhoff’s thesis is even partly true (and at least one skeptic is persuaded that it is) much of the malaise one detects among intelligent members of the Senate and House is understandable. It is not so much the removal of power from the Hill to the White House (a resourceful Congress can still break a President if they want, or at least bring him to heel); rather, it is the knowledge or suspicion that the legislative branch reflects not the electorate but the elite who pay for congressional campaigns and are duly paid off with agreeable tax laws and military procurement and foreign aid bills passed at the dark of the moon. There is a constant if gentle tugging of the reins—perhaps Caligula had the right idea about what a proper senator should be. “We don’t seem to matter at all,” said one East Coast senator to me some years ago. “And I don’t know why. We’re every bit as bright or brighter than the Borah-La Follette group. But we’re just…well, nothing.” Domhoff agrees and tells us why.
In Fat Cats and Democrats, Domhoff describes our rulers. Year in, year out, “About one percent of the population—a socially interacting upper class whose members go to prep schools, attend debutante balls, join exclusive clubs, ride to hounds and travel all over the world for business or pleasure—will continue to own 60 percent to 70 percent of all privately held corporate wealth and receive 24 percent of the national income.” Domhoff tends to be a bit wide-eyed about the life style of the nobles but, barring those riders to hounds, he seldom indulges in the sort of solemn generality recently dished up by a sociologist who discovered that most American banking is controlled by the Wasps (true) and that the Wasps at the top of the banking hierarchy have larger and fleshier ears than those farther down (true?).
Domhoff accepts the Ferdinand Lundberg formulation that there is only one political party in the United States and that is the Property Party, whose Republican wing tends to be rigid in maintaining the status quo and not given to any accommodation of the poor and the black. Although the Democratic wing shares most of the basic principles (that is to say, money) of the Republicans, its members are often shrewd enough to know that what is too rigid will shatter under stress. The Democrats have also understood for some time the nature of the American empire. While the Republicans indulge in Jefferson I rhetoric and unrealities, including isolationism, the Democrats have known all along that this is a Jefferson II world. As Dean Acheson put it in 1947, “You must look to foreign markets.” As early as 1928 a distinguished member of the Republican wing of the Property Party saw its limitations. After all, Averell Harriman was involved in German zinc mines, Polish iron mines, and Soviet manganese. “I thought Republican isolationism was disastrous.” And just before the 1929 crash, he switched.
But essentially the two wings of the Property Party are more alike than not. Witness the bipartisan foreign policy which the elite hammered out twenty-five years ago over the dead bodies of the Republican faithful. The Property Party has known from the beginning how and when to reconcile its two wings in order to survive. After all, according to Domhoff,
The American Constitution was carefully rigged by the noteholders, land speculators, rum runners, and slave holders who were the Founding Fathers, so that it would be next to impossible for upstart dirt farmers and indebted masses to challenge the various forms of private property held by these well read robber barons. Through this Constitution, the overprivileged attempted to rule certain topics out of order for proper political discussion. To bring these topics up in polite company was to invite snide invective, charges of personal instability, or financial ruin.
In other words, don’t start a political party in opposition to the Property Party. From Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party, so viciously smeared by the liberal ADA, to today’s sad attempt to field a People’s Party, those who wish to promote economic equality should not be surprised to have their heads handed to them, particularly by a “free” press which refuses to recognize any alternative to the way things are.
Property is power, as those Massachusetts veterans of the revolution discovered when they joined Captain Daniel Shays in his resistance to the landed gentry’s replacement of a loose confederation of states with a taxlevying central government. The veterans thought that they had been fighting a war for true independence. They did not want London to be replaced by New York. They did want an abolition of debts and a division of property. Their rebellion was promptly put down. But so shaken was the elite by the experience that their most important (and wealthiest) figure grimly emerged from private life with a letter to Harry Lee. “You talk of employing influence,” wrote George Washington, “to appease the present tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that influence is to be found, or if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for the disorders. Influence is no government. Let us have one by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured or let us know the worst at once.” So was born the Property Party and with it the Constitution of the United States. We have known the “best” for nearly 200 years. What would the “worst” have been like?
The rulers of the country are, according to Domhoff, 80 percent to 90 percent Republican. For the most part they are not isolationist. They know that money is to be made overseas either from peace or war, from the garrison state and its attendant machismo charms. Who then supports the Democratic wing? Labor is responsible for 20 percent to 25 percent of the party’s financing. Racketeers from 10 percent to 15 percent—obviously certain areas like New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas interest these entrepreneurs more than, say, the Good Government League of Bangor, Maine. Around 15 percent is contributed by the “little man.” The rest comes from the fat cats. Who are they? And why do they give money to the wrong wing of the Property Party?
Domhoff rather cold-bloodedly divides these perverse investors into two groups. Sentimental liberals—usually from rich families, reacting against Dad’s Republicanism, and status seekers among new-money Jews and Catholics with some Texas oilmen thrown in. Yet the margin of action, like that of debate, is deliberately limited by the conservative as well as the reactionary wing of the Property Party. Or as Domhoff puts it, the elite Republicans “must accommodate the reactionaries just enough to keep them from forming an ultra-conservative party, just as it is the task of the wealthy moderate Democrats to assimilate or crush any sanguine liberals who try to stray through the left boundary of the sacred two-party system.”
An uneasy alliance of Jewish bankers and Texas oilmen has financed most of the Democratic Party. Yet this Jewish-cowboy axis (Domhoff’s phrase), powerful and rich though it is, represents only a small, moderately lunatic fringe to the sturdy fabric of the ruling class. They are the sports who give us Democratic presidential candidates guaranteed to speak of change and different deals while altering nothing. But then how could they change anything and still get the money to buy television spots?
Interestingly enough, Domhoff does not think that the Nixon Southern strategy has a chance of working at the congressional or local level. The South tends to be hawkish and racist—two chords the incumbent Property Party manager knows how to pluck. But the South is not about to support a party which is against federal spending. Nine Rehnquists would not be anywhere near enough to counterbalance the Southward flow of money from Treasury through the conduit of Southern Democratic congressional leaders who have employed the seniority system to reverse that bad trip at the Appomattox Courthouse. They govern the House in tandem with machine Democrats from the North. Each takes in the other’s washing. The Northerners get a few housing bills out of the Southerners, who in turn are granted military bases and agricultural subsidies. Both groups are devoted to keeping the Property Party prosperous and the money where it belongs, in the hands of the elite. Southern Democrats are not about to join with Nixon’s trueblue Republicans in turning off federal aid.
At the congressional level, one can see how the elite works even more clearly than at the presidential level where enthusiasm for attractive candidates often blinds even the sharpest critic (not to mention, very often, the candidate himself) to the charade being enacted by the Property Party. It is in the House and the Senate that the day-by-day dirty work is done, and Bella Abzug gives a splendid account (Bella!) of her two years in the House, trying to represent her constituents and her conscience, to the amusement of a genial body of corrupt politicians whose votes are all too often for sale to the highest bidder, usually in the form of cash in white envelopes if Robert N. Winter-Berger’s astonishing book The Washington Pay-off is to be believed. With these two books, one ideological, the other muckraking, the bankruptcy of the House of Representatives has been duly filed.
Bella Abzug was elected from Lower Manhattan to end the war, gain equal rights for women and blacks, and generally be herself, serving the unpropertied. A bright lawyer as well as a formidable selfpublicist, she immediately struck the fancy of the press (when they get her full range, she will be dropped—tense?). All in all, Abzug rather likes the floor managers of the Property Party. They are good fun and she always knows where she stands with them. “The men in the Club here are very charming to me,” which they can afford to be since “they have all the power.” They even “like to be entertained a bit. I don’t mean in a ha-ha funny way, but in an interesting way.” It is the liberals for whom she has real contempt. They have fallen for “the old crap, the anaesthesia of the liberals: If you want to get along, you’ve got to go along…very little men.” They would rather fight one another for such posts as House Majority leader than unite to keep a reactionary from continuing in that job.
For five years (1964 to 1969) Mr. Winter-Berger was a Washington lobbyist, engaged in getting favors done for a wide range of people. Nathan Voloshen was his principle contact. This extraordinary man had known Representative John W. McCormack since 1945. In 1962, McCormack became Speaker of the House and Voloshen’s “public relations” career soared. For use of the Speaker’s opulent office in the Capitol, Voloshen paid McCormack $2,500 a month rent, a small amount considering the address. As clients came and went, the Speaker would assure them, “Nat can take care of that for you. Nat’s my dear friend and I will do anything I can for him. Any friend of Nat’s is a friend of mine.” In one form or another, this speech is the ancient Washington formula to indicate that things will be done if you pay the price.
Eventually, Voloshen and company were nabbed by the embarrassingly honest Property Party maverick, US Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Voloshen pleaded guilty. At the trial of one of Voloshen’s henchmen,
McCormack pleaded ignorance which, according to the 1925 House Code of Ethics Act, made him innocent. Rather ludicrously, on the stand, McCormack said: “I am not an inquiring fellow.” Actually, if ever a man always knew precisely what was going on around him it was John McCormack.
Mr. Winter-Berger also tells us that he was present in the Speaker’s office when Lyndon Johnson sailed in and, thinking the Speaker was alone, began a tirade with, “John, that son of a bitch is going to ruin me. If that cocksucker talks, I’m gonna land in jail.” Apparently the President did not want his former Senate aide, Bobby Baker, to contest certain charges brought against him. “I will give him a million dollars if he takes the rap,” said Johnson.
It is no wonder that most newspapers and magazines have refused to review this book and that many bookstores will not sell it. The fear is not of libel. Something much more elemental is involved. If the corruption and greed of the men the Property Party has placed in the Congress and the White House become common knowledge, the whole rotten business could very well collapse and property itself would be endangered. Had there actually been a two-party system in the United States, the incoming President would have taken advantage of such an extraordinary scandal in the Democratic ranks. Instead, Nixon moved swiftly to remove Robert Morgenthau from office. If there is one thing Nixon understands, it is dominoes. Or as Mr. Winter-Berger puts it,
At the time, Voloshen said to me: “Mitchell is afraid that if any of the Congressmen are found guilty, the whole public image of the Congress would be destroyed.” Voloshen also told me about the proviso which Attorney General Mitchell added to his offer to drop the case against Frenkil [Voloshen’s pal]: House Speaker John McCormack would have to resign from Congress. Knowing how much McCormack loved his job and his life in the world of politics, I didn’t think such a powerful man would go along. But in fact he did.
Yet the personal enrichment of congressmen and their friends is small potatoes compared to the way the great corporations use the government and its money for their own ends. The recent ITT comedy was just one example—and hardly investigated by the Property Party men in the Senate. The press also plays its supporting role. Mr. Winter-Berger notes that the Bobby Baker scandal became big news with suspicious slowness. “Having been filed in the court records, information about the suit should have been available immediately to any newspaper reporter, but it took the Washington Post three days to find out about it and break the story.” This was September 12, 1963. The New York Times did not think this news fit to print until October 5, and then buried it on page 19. Not until Bobby Baker resigned three days later, did he make the front page of the Times.
But then, as Domhoff has remarked, few substantive matters are considered fit for open discussion in our society. Every President is honest because he is our President and we are honest. An occasional congressman may fall from grace because there are always a few rotten apples in every barrel but the majority are straightshooters. The Congress represents all the interests of the people, at least district by district and state by state. The New York Times will always call the shots if there is any funny business anywhere. Just as they will always support the best “liberal” candidate (Abzug has a nice horror story about how the Times killed a piece on her because it was too favorable). These threadbare myths sustain us. But for how much longer?
After the burning of Newark, the elite wondered, some more reluctantly than others, what might be next for burning if they did not appear to pay off the poor and/or black. To the amazement of the innocent, the Nixon Administration came up with a family income plan for the poor which was favored (fathered?) by the Council for Economic Development. The council then set out to sell the plan to the Right Wing. Predictably, Ronald Reagan was opposed because of a “philosophical antipathy” which he thought reflected the prejudices of his constituency. A number of the council’s leaders swiftly materialized in San Francisco and proceeded to instruct the public in the virtues of the plan. They stressed that not only businessmen but experts favored it. Even Democrats thought it sound. Gently chiding Reagan, they sold the program to California’s media and public in a bipartisan way. The Property Party has no intention of actually putting this plan into effect, of course, but at least they now have something nice to talk about when the poor are restive. The fact that McGovern acts as if he might implement a similar plan has caused alarm.
Recently (June 18) one of the CED’s members, Herbert Stein, now chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, gave us the elite’s latest view of McGovern’s tax reforms. “All such plans count on the willingness of the non-poor to give money to the poor. There has to be such willingness because the non-poor greatly outnumber the poor and dominate the political process.” Elegant sophistry. The not-so-poor do out-number the poor but if the not-so-poor who are nicked heavily by taxes were to join with the poor they would outnumber the elite by 99 to 1. The politician who can forge that alliance will find himself, at best, the maker of a new society; at worst, in a hole at Arlington.
To maintain its grip on the nation, the Property Party must keep actual issues out of political debate. So far they have succeeded marvelously well. Faced with unemployment, Nixon will oppose abortion. Inflation? Marijuana is a halfway house to something worse. The bombing of North Vietnam? Well, pornographers are using the mailing lists of Cub Scouts. Persuading the people to vote against their own best interests has been the awesome genius of the American political elite from the beginning.
It will be interesting to see what happens to George McGovern. Appealing to the restive young, he came up with a number of tax reforms which threatened to alter the foundation of the Property Party. The result was a terrible squawking from the Alsops and the Restons. We were told that McGovern is the Goldwater of the left (a good joke since Goldwater represented the reactionary country club minority while McGovern would represent the not-so-poor to poor majority), but then any hack journalist knows that his ink-drugged readers will not stand for pot, abortion, amnesty. Now that McGovern is the candidate, they have decided that he is, thank God, a pragmatist (i.e. a Property Party opportunist) and so will move where the votes are and where you can bet your sweet ass the Sulzbergers and Schiffs, the Luces and Grahams are.
With each passing day, McGovern will more and more come to resemble a Property Party candidate. This is fair enough, if not good enough. But what happens when he is elected? Then we will know—too late, I fear—to what extent he was simply exploiting the people’s deep inchoate hatred of the Property Party in order to become that party’s loyal manager. This would be sad because 1972 could have been the year for a counterparty or for a transformation of the Democratic wing of the Property Party. But barring catastrophe (in the form of home-grown apple-pie fascism), the early response to McGovern (and Wallace, too) is the first indication we have had that there now exists a potential American majority willing to see its best interests served not through the restrictive Constitution of the elite but through the egalitarian vision of Daniel Shays and his road not taken—yet.
August 10, 1972