Reaction in Georgia

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Election 1966: resentment and unreality
When an individual fails l<i ;ict in :i crisis, the cir-
cumstances thenisi'lvfs will blinrlly rL-solvu the
problem—and often not to the liking of that indi-
vidual. This is a thought to keep in mind for the
election. For it must be obvious to any thinking
citizen that today's times are not ordinary times,
and this will not be an ordinary election.
Disunity, frustration, suspicion and fear per-
meate the nation. It seems as if an air of unreality
is settling over us all. For, very clearly, things
are not what they had seemed two years ago.
Then, a widespread concern over the possibility
of an escalated Vietnam war had helped to de-
feat the Republican candidate and to elect Presi-
dent Johnson. Two years ago, the civil-rights
movement had seemed to be making a historic
breakthrough,—with broad popular support. Sud-
denly, insanely, outbreaks of racial violence
began increasing In city after city, North and
South. A possibility that had been regarded before
as only a baleful threat—the "white backlash" —
has churned dangerously into the very center of
almost every campaign.
Comp(junding all these deeper emotional reac-
tions are the bitter disagreements over the Admin-
istration's spending programs. Basid&lly, the con-
flict is over the priorities being given to guns over
domestic needs—the spending for the escalating war
in Vietnam in the face of the ever-more-insistent
demands of the Great Society. The cost of living is
up, the stock market is down, and everybody is
unhappy over either one or both of these trends.
All of these problems will, to some degree, affect
the outcome of Tuesday's election. If Ronald
Reagan wrests the California governorship from
Pat Brown, it would be because the conservative
movement put him across. The conservative
strength would almost certainly be reflecting some
part nf the backlash, and such a victory would put
the fiiriner actor in an excellent jyjsition to lead the
conservatives as a presidential candidate in 1968.
If the segregationists and the conservatives all
do well in the election, there is a very good possi-
bility that Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama
will present himself as a third-party presidential
candidate in 1968. Wallace entered three presiden-
tial-primary contests in 1964, and won 43 percent
of the votes in Maryland, 34 percent in Wisconsin,
and 30 percent in Indiana. If backlash sentiment
should run away with itself in the North, a mere
plurality of the popular vote in a sufficient number
of states tnight win him a majority in the Electoral
College. It is conceivable that George Wallace
could become President.
S<_)mewhere on the hustings today, dozensof pres-
idential aspirantb are in full cry. The issues—local,
national, international—pose decisive turning
points on every side, and the public will decide
which way the country will tum. But we know, of
course, that there is no such thing a^ "the public."
There are only individuals. In a democracy the in-
dividual citizens are supreme m their collective acts
in the voting booths. The problems of our time are
serious enough to demand action by all voters.
Reaction in Georgia
Everj' action has an equal and opposite reaction,
and this is as true of politics as it is of physics. The
reaction hit Georgia a few weeks ago, when the
deafening snap of a white backlash produced
Lester G. Maddox as the Democratic nominee for
governor of Georgia, Mr. Maddox ran against
Ellis G. Arnall, a distinguished moderate, and won
a stunning victory in a runoff primary. Sometime
before this, Mr. Maddox ran an agreeable and in-
expensive chicken restaurant in Atlanta, where he
got his political start by handing out ax handles to
white customers to discourage black ones. What-
ever one thinks of this sort of political activity, it
is not adequate training for the highest office in
the state. And it probably wouldn't have been for
Maddox, except for an unexpected development in
Atlanta—a series of violent, senseless riots.
Stokely Carmichael. head of S.N,C.C. and a
noisy prop<jnent of black power, was a conspicuous
figure in these riots. They fractured a cirefully
constructed peace that had been painfully built
over the years by local citizens of both colors,
and may have dealt a fearsome blf)w to the Geor-
gia Democratic Party, white reason and black
power all at once. They may even have provided
Georgia with its first Republican governor since
1871. This would be the G.O.P. nominee, Howard
H. iBo) Callaway, a highly presentable young man
with limited political experience, an attractive
wife and the backing of a powerful and wealthy
family. White reaction to the riots was to reject
the moderate \-iew, thus leaving the voters a choice
between an upstart young Republican and a dead-
end segregationist. This confounds the Demo-
cratic leadership (who will hold their noses and
vote for Maddox); horrifies the Negroes; shatters
the libenils; and pleases a broad scattering of Re-
publican> and the extreme segregationists—who
only a I'ew months ago seemed safely bypassed.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of the Maddox
victory, "It is indicative of a deep and corroding
cancer In Georgia's body politic." If so, the can-
cer had been under control. And while Dr. King
did not say so, it seems likelj' that the irritant
which triggered the cancer was the man who
professes to want to cure it—Stokely Cannichael.
• 4

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