The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington

on the World Today

THE immensely suecesslul cooperative effort of Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate in fashioning a civil rights bill is a heartening demonstration that representative government can meet its responsibilities. Great credit must go to the spirit of bipartisanship which animated the men in both parties in dealing with a grave national problem. Senator Dirksen performed throughout the long Senate fight with a statesmanship tempered only by a clear understanding of what was politically possible. He was ably assisted by Senator Kuchel. the Republican Whip, who has always commanded respect from both sides of the aisle.

In the House, the greatest credit goes to Representative William M. McCulloch of Ohio, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. He and other representatives who guided the bill through the House early this year worked constantly with Senate leaders during the filibuster in preparing the final draft.

More than a year ago, President Kennedy initiated a series of White House meetings with business, labor, religious, and regional groups. President Johnson continued the effort in a variety of ways, repeatedly urging business leaders with whom he met to employ more Negroes. Indeed, he was hard at work on this aspect of the problem while he was Vice President. Under the Plans for Progress program, which he directed, more than two hundred large businesses with millions of employees promised equality of opportunity in hiring and promotion practices. The same kind of pledges were obtained from many labor unions. Since becoming President, Johnson has repeatedly urged businessmen to use their influence not only in their companies but also in their communities to explain why the federal government sponsored a civil rights bill.

Governor Scranton spoke forcefully to the problem of reconciliation when he said: “Let us be done with the fear of the black man and the fear of the white man. . . . And let us have the courage to say that there are those in each party who wish to trade on both.”

The answer to violence

Yet the summer has brought on more violence and lawlessness in many parts of the country. A considerable number of Negro leaders recognized their responsibility when in the spring they opposed, with risk to their leadership positions, the proposal for mass stall-ins on the highways leading to the New York World’s Fair. Many of those same leaders spoke out against the wave of crime and violence that struck the New York subways. While the Administration has been deeply concerned about the lawlessness, federal jurisdiction to act is limited. The Administration has urged greater use of the local police power to protect citizens and has itself concentrated on the problem of removing the underlying causes of crime.

Both the Justice Department and the Labor Department have stepped up their support of a series of programs designed to provide training and jobs for juveniles. Those who have worked on the programs in Harlem report that hopelessness is the greatest obstacle to progress. They are convinced that they must persevere in trying to provide a basis of hope for those who are without it. Local governments in cities such as New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Chicago have been eager to support every type of rehabilitation program the federal government is authorized to conduct. It has long been recognized in Washington that frustrations and disappointments will continue to plague the Negro community. That is why the Administration has planned an educational program to explain the aims and purposes of the bill and to emphasize the importance of programs designed to remove the basic causes of tension.

Negro leaders are asked to urge young people to endure the difficulties of obtaining an education, because now more doors are open to Negroes with training and ability. Lawyers are asked to emphasize the citizens’ obligation to respect the law. Religious leaders are urged to emphasize support of moral values. Above all, bipartisan support of the civil rights act has demonstrated that representative government can be effective in removing grievances. Administration leaders from the President down hope that 1964 may mark a turningpoint in the nation’s history.

The Alliance for Progress

The Alliance for Progress has been endlessly criticized for its failures, mistakes, and unfulfilled ambitions. Perhaps the greatest mistake of all was to assume that so vast a revolution as was envisioned could be accomplished in a short time. Yet the Alliance is alive today. Despite its weaknesses, it probably is the single most vital force in the Western Hemisphere. Politicians in almost every Latin-American country debate and campaign on the issues raised by the Alliance.

Those who would write it off as a lost dream appreciate neither the scope of the undertaking and its achievements to date nor the resistance of men and of institutions to change. A beginning has been made. Washington experts believe that there will be major successes eventually. They know that much more ought to be done and done faster. But they know also that great projects require time.

Only three years ago this summer the Charter of Punta del Este was signed. Since then, Castro’s revolution has been contained; no other LatinAmerican country has succumbed to the Communist virus. Reform has become the central political issue in many countries. Land reforms, tax reforms, governmental reforms, and housing programs have been launched. The Venezuelan government, which seemed on the verge of being undermined a year ago, has survived. Central America has a common market and a Central American Bank. Mexico, which harbored strong Communist influences three years ago, has a flourishing economy and a viable and respected government.

Shortly after he became President, Lyndon Johnson said that the Alliance should be made President Kennedy’s “living memorial.” He promised full support. In May, when discouragement was widespread, the President called the Latin-American ambassadors to the White House to reaffirm his faith in the Alliance and to promise “twice as much action” in the next year as in any previous year.

An aide who is now serving President Johnson recalls that in 1961 Kennedy discussed LatinAmerican problems with some of his advisers almost every day. Last year, on the day before he made his fatal trip to Texas, a group of LatinAmerican scholars were in Washington, and it was suggested that Kennedy see them. He agreed to say a word of greeting in the Rose Garden, explaining that he could not spare more time because he was preparing for the Texas trip. Nevertheless, after greeting the scholars, he invited them into his office, where for forty-five minutes he questioned them about the Alliance and asked what could be done to strengthen it. By his three journeys as President to Latin America and by his other expressions of interest in the Alliance, Kennedy won the hearts of millions of men and women in the Hemisphere.

Johnson reaffirms the goals

When Johnson became President, his appointment of Thomas C. Mann as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, and also as Special Assistant to the President, emphasized his own deep interest in Hemisphere problems. At first, both the new President and Mann were suspect south of the border because of their Texas origin and their close ties with business. Not all of these suspicions have been removed, but many have been. In May the President addressed the Latin-American ambassadors, asserting his devotion to the democratic ideal and promising to continue “to join with you to encourage democracy until we build a Hemisphere of free nations.”

Declaring that “we have reached a turning point” in the Alliance, the President said: “The foundations have been laid. The time calls for more action, not more words. . . . I can now say with confidence that our Alliance for Progress will succeed.”

In attempting both a profound social revolution and speedy economic progress, the Alliance set a double goal. In the past, in our own country as well as in others, revolution and economic progress have not often been compatible. The Mexican revolution, for example, achieved social reforms first. After these reforms were enforced and after a stable government was established, economic progress was possible. But there were many years of disappointment. Now the need for both social reform and economic progress is so great that the Alliance has determined to attempt both. Much help in private and public funds from the United States will be required if both jobs are to be done at the same time.

Many dollars went down the drain in Brazil during the Goulart era because the United States was attempting to shore up an impossible government. Now, hopefully, there may be a stronger effort by Brazilians to meet their own problems. Mexico has demonstrated that it is imperative to have a responsible and effective government.

The Alliance at the very least has set new standards and raised higher goals. It has given the younger generation hope. And it has caused Latin America to look upon itself as an entity. As Senator Dirksen, quoting Victor Hugo, wisely said of the civil rights bill, “Stronger than all the armies is the idea whose time has come.” It is the idea that there must be human progress.

Right-wing victory in Alabama

The loss of outstanding members of Congress always comes as a blow to Washington. This year two unusually gifted members from Alabama are leaving. Early this year, Representative Albert Rains, ranking Democrat on the House Banking and Currency Committee, announced that he would not seek reelection. He is sixty-two, and he has had about all the political wars he can take. Because the Alabama legislature refused to redistrict the state after the 1960 census, Alabama House members must run at large, with the low man out.

It is a ridiculous system, but there is little prospect of reform with the Alabama political climate what it is today. Because of Rains’s sponsorship of progressive housing legislation and his moderate stand on racial issues, there was a strong movement in Alabama against him. A few years ago, Speaker Rayburn said that Rains’s handling of a major housing bill was one of the most brilliant pieces of floor generalship he had ever seen. An able lawyer and progressive-minded individual, Rains is respected by his colleagues in both parties.

When Alabama held its Democratic primary without Rains on the list, the conservative elements combined to direct their fire at Representative Carl Elliott, an extraordinarily able and courageous man, who is only fifty and has had a brilliant sixteen-year record in the House. After President Kennedy won his fight to enlarge the Rules Committee in 1961, Elliott was assigned to it. Previously he had been a member of the Committee on Education and Labor and chairman of the Subcommittee on Special Education. He was author, in the House, of the National Defense Education Act of 1958. Eisenhower Republicans who worked with him on that piece of legislation regarded him highly.

But Elliott was too progressive for his state. The extreme right wing in Southern politics is making steady gains in its fight against moderate and progressive men.

Mood of the Capital

Political leaders in both parties are aware that they are headed into another national campaign without coming to grips with the challenge of ever mounting campaign costs. Millions of dollars will be spent by both major parties between now and November. Proposals by President Eisenhower and President Kennedy to assure greater control over campaign spending and to encourage wider citizen participation in campaign contributions met with no success in Congress.

Fund-raising dinners, where the wealthy and those who are seeking influence or have obtained it are pressured to buy expensive tickets, have become major undertakings — and major bores. No one can deny that politicians are placed under heavy obligation to large contributors and that the laws governing campaign contributions are breached.