The months leading up to an American presidential election are always a testy time. If times are even testier than usual, it is undoubtedly because the government itself is divided, with a Republican finishing a first term in the White House and the Democrats in control of Capitol Hill. The Senate is aswarm with presidential and vice presidential hopefuls, all trying to make partisan points at the expense of the Administration. Richard M. Nixon has lobbied for passage of the Administration's program, cajoling conservative Republicans to stay in line and seeking whatever support he can find on the Democratic side of the aisle. But despite cooperation from the Democratic leadership on some issues, the output of Congress is dwindling as Election Day draws closer and partisan considerations dominate.
The Republicans feel they deserve to be re-elected. They were called back into power three years ago by a public impatient to wind up a nasty war in Asia which the Democrats seemed incapable of ending. By and large, the Republicans have done what it was hoped they would do, although there is still a sizable American army in the field and no formal peace treaty is in sight. The war news is off the front page, they note, and mercifully, so is the constant agitation from and about the radical groups who want to turn the country upside down.
The problem is that the war's effects linger. The inflation which the Republicans inherited, though somewhat abated, remains a major preoccupation of Administration economists and average citizens. And the cutback in defense spending has slowed the economy and brought higher unemployment than anyone finds satisfactory. The Democrats argue that these are not problems of transition, as the President maintains, but the results of typical Republican mismanagement of the economy. This case was persuasive enough for them to win the midterm election, despite the President's and Vice President's all-out effort to elect a Republican Congress.
In the coming election, Republicans will run on the slogan of "Peace and Prosperity"—if they can reduce the unemployment figure and bring inflation under control; and if the protracted disarmament talks with the Russians do not end in disagreement; and if the tense Middle East does not explode into war; and if the India-Pakistan situation can be contained.
The latest Supreme Court decision on school desegregation is causing the Republicans some problems and jeopardizing their prospects for further political gains in the South. Despite the President's evident coolness to the ruling, his critics do not let him forget that the decision was written by the Republican whom he appointed as Chief Justice.
Richard Nixon is working as doggedly as ever, trying to keep one step ahead of his problems. Busy as he is with the duties of his office, he manages to take an active hand in Republican Party politics. He has to, for there are threats on every side. In addition to the Senate Democrats, who rarely miss a chance to denounce him, there are restive conservatives in his own party, unhappy about the course of the Administration; a Republican governor in his home state of California whose ambitions must be placated; and a millionaire governor in New York who, instead of resting on the laurels of a long and distinguished career, seems always to be seeking new worlds to conquer.
Since the last presidential race, the Democrats have made a strong comeback in the state capitals. They now control Ohio and Pennsylvania, among other states important to Nixon's re-election. But there is a friendly Republican governor in Illinois to help offset some of Mayor Daley's power. And there are high-level intrigues in Texas, whose top Democrat could not be more helpful to the President if he were a member of the GOP.
All things considered, Richard Nixon feels he can look forward with some confidence to 1956.
That's right—1956. This is history, not current events. Every item just referred to is sixteen years out of date, even if it seems to apply to the autumn of 1971. The President referred to is Dwight D. Eisenhower, not Richard Nixon. The war is in Korea, not Vietnam. The Republican Chief Justice is Earl Warren, not Warren Burger. The school decision that is causing the controversy is the original 1954 ruling that "separate is not equal," not the more recent call for widespread busing to end segregation.
The California governor whose ego needs constant attention is Goodwin J. Knight, not Ronald Reagan. The ambitious millionaire in Albany is Averell Harriman, not Nelson A. Rockefeller. The Administration's Texas friend is Allan Shivers, not John B. Connally. And the Senate Democratic hopefuls are named Kefauver and Gore and Kennedy and Johnson, not Muskie, McGovern, Jackson, and Humphrey.
But if this short catalogue of the similarities of 1955 and 1971 produces a sensation of deja vu, an impression that we are watching a rerun of a not-very-good movie, then you understand what provokes this article. American politics is at an impasse: we have been spinning our wheels for a long, long time, and we are going to dig ourselves ever deeper into trouble unless we find a way to develop some political traction and move again. We can get that traction, we can make government responsible and responsive again, only when we begin to use the political parties as they are meant to be used.
Many of the shortcomings in the American political system today were foreseen by a group of scholars twenty years ago. In its 1951 report, "Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System," the committee on political parties of the American Political Science Association said that there were four dangers to our democracy which "warrant special emphasis," dangers which they prophesied would become more acute unless the forces weakening our party system were combated.
"The first danger," the report said, "is that the inadequacy of the party system in sustaining well-considered programs and providing broad public support for them may lead to grave consequences in an explosive era."
The weakness of our party system has made it very difficult to build and maintain support for the long-term enterprises we need to pursue at home and abroad. The task of supporting international economic development, of constructing a stable world peace, of building a strong domestic economy and equitably distributing its products and wealth, of reforming our governmental structures and finding adequate resources for our urgent national needs cannot be accomplished by a single Congress or a single President. We have paid a high price for the instability and weakness of our governing coalitions. Ambitious programs have been launched, but funds to finance them withheld. Commitments made by a Congress have been vetoed or impounded by a President. No party has been able to move ahead on its own agenda for very long, and the result has been years of government by fits and starts, with a mounting backlog of unkept promises and unmet needs.
"The second danger," the APSA committee said, "is that the American people may go too far for the safety of constitutional government in compensating for this inadequacy by shifting excessive responsibility to the President."
We have seen that happen, too. The weakness and frustration of responsible party government at the state and local level—which are, if anything, even more serious than at the national level—have sent most of our major issues to Washington for resolution. And in Washington, power has increasingly been stripped from Congress and the departments and been centralized in the White House. Bereft of the sustained support that a responsible party system could provide for passage and implementation of a long-term program, each of the last four Presidents has been forced to improvise his governmental policies and tactics on a day-to-day basis, hoping that some temporary alliance would permit him to overcome the inherent immobility of the vast governmental system. As the APSA committee predicted, this situation has produced the type of ''president who exploits skillfully the arts of demagoguery, who uses the whole country as his political backyard, and who does not mind turning into the embodiment of personal government." But even the highly personalized presidency of our era has not managed to cope successfully with the problems challenging America.
"The third danger," the APSA committee said in 1951, "is that with growing public cynicism and continuing proof of the ineffectiveness of the party system, the nation may eventually witness the disintegration of the two major parties." That has not yet happened, but we are appreciably closer to that danger than we were twenty years ago.
Popular dissatisfaction with the two-party system is manifested in many ways: by the decline in voting; by the rise in the number of voters who refuse to identify themselves with either party; by the increase in ticket splitting, a device for denying either party responsibility for government; and by the increased use of third parties or ad hoc political coalitions to pressure for change.
"The fourth danger," the APSA committee said, "is that the incapacity of the two parties for consistent action based on meaningful programs may rally support for extremist parties, poles apart, each fanatically bent on imposing on the country its particular panacea."
Regrettably, we have seen altogether too much this kind of political polarization in the past twenty years. This has been an era of confrontation politics: between whites and blacks, hard hats and students, demonstrators and police. The extremist parties are yet small, but the extremist movements are growing.
What must concern us now is the rising level of public frustration with government-and-politics-as-usual. For it is not just a few radical students who say and believe that the political system is not working. Millions of ordinary, hardworking Americans recognize that government is not dealing with the problems that are uppermost in their lives: crime and drugs and war and inflation and unfair tax loads and fear of unemployment.
For most of these last two decades, American liberals, of whom I am, I suppose, one, have been most concerned about the outsiders in our society—the black, the brown, the poor, the uneducated, the young—who are the all-but-inevitable losers in the influence game that we have substituted for responsible party government. But some of these groups have learned to beat the odds by ignoring the rules. If the "big boys" and the "special interests" control City Hall, or the legislature, or the Capitol, the "outsiders" have learned to control the streets. They have "voted with their feet," as the saying goes, and with their throats, and with their threats. And sometimes the government has responded, as it should have responded, to the justice of their cause, if not to the threat of disruption that accompanied it.
But today, it is not just these minority-group "outsiders" who are frustrated by the inequities of our society and the laggard performance of our political-governmental system. Millions of middle-aged, middle-class white working Americans are coming to understand that they have been victimized by the irresponsible politics of the recent era. No one asked them if they wanted their sons to fight in Vietnam; no-one asked them if they wanted to gamble their family security on their ability to keep one step ahead of inflation; no one asked them if they wanted to swap token cuts in their income taxes for walloping hikes in the property taxes on their homes.
Yet all these things have been done to them by their government, and they are not going to take it lying down. Failing any means of registering their views through the political system, they will follow the blacks and the students and the other minority groups into the streets. And confrontation politics—with its constant threat of violence and repression—will increase.
Is there not a better way to resolve our differences, to move ahead on our common problems? I believe there is. The instrument available to us is responsible party government. The alternative to making policy in the streets is to make it in the voting booth. But if that proposition is to be more than a cliche, there must be real choices presented at election time -choices involving more than a selection between two sincere-sounding, photogenic graduates of some campaign consultant's academy of political and dramatic arts. The candidates must come to the voters with programs that are comprehensible and relevant to our problems; and they must have the kind of backing that makes it possible for them to act on their pledges once in office.
The only instrument I know of that can nominate such candidates, commit them to a program, and give them the leverage and alliances in government that can enable them to keep their promises is the political party. But even as I say this, I recognize that the notion will be greeted with enormous skepticism. The parties, it will be said, have been around for years; if they are the answer, then why do we have the problems we have now?
My reply, of course, is that we have not seen responsible party government in this country—in Washington or in most states and cities—in the sixteen years I have been covering national politics. Instead, we have fractured, irresponsible nonparty government, and we have paid a fearful price for it.
The most serious and costly consequences of the breakdown of responsible party government are not in the domestic field. If one wants to sum up in one word what can happen in the absence of responsible party government, that word is "Vietnam."
For twenty-five years, respectable opinion in this country has held that the great questions of foreign policy should be kept sacred and inviolate, far removed from the sordid considerations of partisan advantage. The notion had a specific historical justification. In 1946, when Democrat Harry Truman was President, the Republicans captured Congress in an election that represented a strong public reaction against the wartime controls associated with the Democratic Administration.
The Republican congressional victory made responsible party government impossible. Faced with the necessity of securing support from a Republican Congress for major postwar international policies—including the Marshall Plan—Truman entrusted his foreign policy to a group of successful lawyers and businessmen, many of them liberal Republicans from the New York Establishment. The prominence given such men as Robert Lovett, Paul Hoffman, John McCloy, Allen and John Foster Dulles facilitated the course of bipartisanship that was necessary under the historical circumstances.
Unfortunately, the notion became permanently enshrined that such nonpolitical men had a natural right to manage the nation's foreign policy. Dwight D. Eisenhower was imbued with the myth of bipartisanship, and he let the Dulles brothers run foreign policy for him. And as John Kenneth Galbraith has noted, even when the Democrats returned to power in 1961, "instead of Adlai Stevenson, W. Averell Harriman or J. W. Fulbright, with their Democratic party associations," John Kennedy gave the key international security jobs to such nonpolitical Establishment men as Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Roswell Gilpatric, and the Bundy brothers, McGeorge and William.
"Foreign policy was thus removed from the influence of party politics...from the influence of men who had any personal stake in the future of the Democratic party, the President apart," Galbraith noted. Elections are held and party control of the presidency shifts, but the technicians and "experts"—the Walt Rostows and Henry Kissingers—never seem to lose their grip on the foreign policy machinery.
When protest over foreign policy arises from the ranks of the President's party—as it did from some Democratic senators in the Lyndon Johnson years and has from some Republican legislators since Richard Nixon has been in office—it is the nonpolitical "experts" in the key foreign policy jobs who always rush forward to defend existing policies.
It is these men—with their marvelous self-confidence and their well developed contempt for politicians and public opinion—who wrote the clever scenarios and the cynical memoranda that make up the history of Vietnam policy under three Administrations contained in the Pentagon Papers. It is they who stand ready to advise a President on how he can dupe the Congress and the public and maneuver the nation into war without disclosing his intentions.
Why have they been able to maintain their control over foreign policy? Because the political parties, at critical junctures, have failed to meet their responsibilities. In none of the national elections during the whole course of the escalation and de-escalation in Vietnam were the American people given a choice of defined, coherent policies toward the struggle in Indochina. The issue was either ignored entirely or smothered in a blanket of bipartisan generalities. For six long years—between 1964 and 1970- the leadership of both parties in Congress failed to try to bring a policy declaration on Vietnam to a vote.
Vietnam is a classic instance of the costliness of isolating a basic foreign policy question from examination in partisan, political debate. It is a terrible measure of the failure of responsible party government in our time.
The habit of partisanship, once lost, may be very difficult to regain. If that proves to be the case, and if the young people entering the electorate remain as independent of the party system as they now appear to be, the major parties may no longer enjoy a monopoly on high office. Three or four or half a dozen serious presidential candidates may run each year, posing a constitutional crisis whether we are operating under the existing electoral-college system or a plan for direct election of the President. More minor-party or independent candidates may find their way into Congress, weakening the existing party structure there.
If the distrust of politicians and parties continues to grow, it may be reflected in the deliberate crippling of responsible leadership, by dividing the branches of government between the parties and by turning officeholders out as soon as they show signs of amassing any significant power. While the masses of alienated voters use these tactics to cripple government, the activists for one cause or another may continue to press their demands through confrontation tactics—lawsuits, demonstrations, strikes, boycotts and the other weapons in their arsenal. The result would be an increase of domestic turbulence and violence.
I do not think it is inevitable that we go down this road, but I am afraid that there is as yet no widespread understanding that this is what we face, unless we make a deliberate effort to reinvigorate our political party system. There is as yet no broad appreciation of the fact that the aggravations and frustrations each of us feels are part of a single crisis- the malfunctioning of our governmental-political system. We still delude ourselves by thinking we can treat the symptoms and ignore the cause. If we find ourselves stuck in a traffic jam every morning, we start for work fifteen minutes earlier in futile hopes of beating the crowd. If the cities become unsafe, we take our businesses and our families to the suburbs, hoping the problems will not follow us. If we find ourselves as a nation fighting a lengthy, undeclared war, our "solution" is to pull the troops out and hope it will not happen again.
For a long time, we have tried to buy time by this kind of retreat from reality, but we cannot play the game much longer. Unless our basic population patterns are reversed, most of us will find ourselves living in a compact mass of humanity in one of the concentrated metropolitan clusters, where we will have only the choice of trying to solve our problems on a community basis or attempting to survive by the law of the jungle. When the time comes—and it is not that far off—when most Americans live constantly with the threat of breakdowns that have plagued New York City residents in recent years, when teachers and policemen and sanitation workers and subway and bus and taxi operators strike, when taxes rise while municipal services deteriorate, and filth piles up in the streets, when jobs become more scarce and inaccessible and welfare rolls soar while schools turn out more addicts than graduates, when personal security is no greater than one's own strength or weapons provide, then we may recognize that we face a genuine crisis of government.
If we are very fortunate at that moment, we may find leadership in one party or the other that can mobilize the national will through democratic means to confront what may by then be an almost overwhelming challenge. In our desperation, we may by our ballots give that party a mandate for governing commensurate to its task, and we may even be fortunate enough to find its leaders responsible and responsive in office. My guess is that if we find such leadership, it will come, not from the Senate, but from that most scorned of political offices, the governorship. The best hope I can see for the short term is that one of the major states may provide a showcase example of responsible party government in action—with a governor, a legislature, and a party leadership successfully working in tandem to meet the urgent needs of that state. Such a demonstration would not only validate the concept of responsible party government, it might also elevate its practitioner to the presidency.
But there is a darker possibility that we cannot overlook. When frustration reaches the breaking point, when inflation and economic uncertainty, work stoppages, civil disturbances, crime, drugs, and the breakdown of public services can no longer be tolerated, a different sort of man with a different solution may present himself.
A plausible demagogue may appear and say, "Give me power and I will make things work again. I will restore order to your lives. I will see that there is discipline again. I will make the streets safe, and I will remove those who are disturbing our peace of mind. It may not be pleasant, but I promise you it will be effective. If those demonstrators try to tie up our cities, my police will know how to deal with them so they will not try again. If those unions try to raise wages, my men will see to it that there are no more strikes. We will control prices, even if it means we have to run those big businesses ourselves. Congress will pass the necessary laws, because its members will understand that it will not be wise for them to go home unless they act. And the press will cooperate with us, and stop its carping and sniping, if it understands what is good for it. And we will save our country"—but, of course, destroy freedom and democracy m the process.
That possibility sounds like scare talk. Some will dismiss it as apocalyptic nonsense. But things have been happening in this country that I would not have believed when I came to Washington sixteen years and four Presidents ago. I have seen a President and his brother, a presidential candidate, murdered by assassins. I have seen the Capitol of the United States blasted by explosives on one occasion, and ringed by arson fires on another. I have circled our national monuments in an airplane carrying the Vice President of the United States and watched the tears in his eyes as he saw the magnificent capital city set to the torch by its black residents, venting their rage and frustration at the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Time and again, I have heard from the Capitol, and lately even from the White House, powerful men speak as if they did not understand that unless we obliterate the tragic heritage of slavery, it will obliterate us.
I have seen speakers shouted down and heckled into silence by student mobs at our oldest university, and I have seen police in a dozen cities use their clubs with savage delight on the heads and arms and backs of peaceful demonstrators.
Above all, I have heard the conversations of hundreds of average Americans, who see their world, their plans, their hopes crumbling, and do not know where to turn. I cannot forget a doctor's widow in Richmond whom I interviewed in 1970 saying: "You can't tell from day to day, but if it doesn't do better than it is now, it won't be much of a country. This is the saddest situation I've ever seen. I've seen this country go through four wars and a depression, and this is the worst."
Where do we turn? To ourselves. Obviously, that must be the answer. There is no solution for America except what we Americans devise. I believe that we have the instrument at hand, in the party system, that can break the long and costly impasse in our government. But it is up to us to decide whether to use it.
What would it entail on our part if we determined to attempt responsible party government? First, it would mean giving strong public support to reform efforts, which in the recent past have been carried on entirely by a small group of concerned political insiders, aimed at strengthening the machinery of political parties and government. Here are some of these reforms:
* We should seek to strengthen the liaison between the presidency and Congress, on a mutual basis, and between the presidency and the heads of state and local government.
* We should elect the President in the same way we elect all other officials, by direct vote of his constituents, with the high man winning.
* We should expand the role and responsibilities of the party caucuses and the party leaders in Congress. The caucus should choose the floor leaders and policy committee members, the legislative committee chairmen and committee members, not on the basis of seniority, but on the basis of ability and commitment to the party program. That leadership ought to be held accountable for bringing legislation to which the party is committed to a floor vote in orderly and timely fashion, with adequate opportunity for debate and particularly for consideration of opposition party alternatives. But procedures for due consideration should not justify devices like the filibuster, which prevent the majority party from bringing its measures to a final vote.
* In state government, we need to reduce the number of elected officials, to provide governors with adequate tenure and staff to meet their responsibilities, and particularly to strengthen the legislature by limiting its size and by improving its pay, its facilities, and its staffing, and by recognizing that it has a full-time job to do each year.
* In local government, too, we need to reduce drastically the number of elected officials and to make sure that the jurisdictions they serve are large enough to provide a base for two-party competition and to bring resources, together with problems, along a broad enough front to give some hope of effective action.
* We need to take every possible measure to strengthen the presidential nominating convention as the key device for making the parties responsible. The current effort to open the Democratic delegate-selection process to wider public participation is a promising start, and its emphasis on the congressional district nominating convention offers corollary benefits for integrating congressional and presidential constituencies. Both parties should experiment with devices for putting heavier emphasis on the platform-writing phase of the convention's work, including the possibility of a separate convention following the nomination, where the party's officeholders and candidates debate the program on which they pledge themselves to run and to act if elected.
* Most important of all the structural reforms, we need to follow through on the recent congressional effort to discipline the use of money in politics, by setting realistic limits on campaign spending, limiting and publicizing individual and organizational gifts and channeling much more of the money (including, in my view, all general election spending) through the respective party committees rather than through individual candidates' treasuries.
* We need to strengthen the party organizations and their staffs, and recapture for them the campaign management functions that have been parceled out to independent firms, which tend to operate with a fine disdain for the role of party and policy in government. We need to make television—the prime medium of political communications—somewhat more sensitive to the parties' claims to time; we need to protect the vital institution of the nominating convention from being distorted by the demands of the television cameras.
All these reforms would help, I believe, but they would not accomplish the invigoration of responsible party government unless they were accompanied by a genuine increase in the participation by the public in party affairs. The cure for the ills of democracy truly is more democracy; our parties are weak principally because we do not use them. To be strong and responsible, our parties must be representative; and they can be no more representative than our participation allows. Millions more of us need to get into partisan political activity.
We also need to examine some of our habits. It seems to me that we should ask, before splitting a ticket, what it is we hope to accomplish by dividing between the parties the responsibility for government of our country, our state, or our community. Do we think there is no difference between the parties? Do we distrust them both so thoroughly that we wish to set them against each other? Do we think one man so superior in virtue and wisdom that he must be put into office, no matter who accompanies him there?
Why are we splitting our tickets? My guess is that if we asked these questions, we would more often be inclined to give a temporary grant of power to one party at a time rather than dividing responsibility so skillfully between the parties that neither can govern. If we were willing to risk this strategy, knowing that we would be able to throw the rascals out if they failed, we might even discover to our amazement that they are not always rascals.
These are the things we could do if we wanted to attempt responsible party government. But they would not, of course, be an answer to our problems as a nation. There are limits to what parties can do, limits indeed to what politics and government can do.
The party system is essentially a device for making choices between candidates and programs, and for enabling those who prevail at the polls to seek to put their policies into action. It is a way of expressing choice, and choice implies division, which will be ever present in a large and diverse nation like ours.
But for the two-party system to work, there must be not only division but large areas of agreement. There must be agreement on the rules of the game, so that losers accept defeat and winners do not attempt to abuse the advantage of victory. There must also be a high degree of agreement on the values and goals the society cherishes, so that political defeat does not seem to carry intolerable penalties for the losers. A party system must reflect the political community it serves, and when that community loses its sense of identity, the party system cannot fabricate one for it.
Whether we Americans still retain a vision of ourselves as one people, one continent-sized community, is the ultimate question. And that is a question beyond politics "Epochs sometimes occur in the life of a nation," Tocqueville wrote,
"when the old customs of a people are changed, public morality is destroyed, religious belief shaken, and the spell of tradition broken, while the diffusion of knowledge is yet imperfect and the civil rights of the community are ill secured or confined within narrow limits. The country then assumes a dim and dubious shape in the eyes of the citizens; they no longer behold it in the soil which they inhabit, for that soil is to them an inanimate cloud: nor in the usages of their forefathers, which they have learned to regard as a debasing yoke; nor in religion, for of that they doubt; nor in the laws, which do not originate in their own authority; nor in the legislator, whom they fear and despise. The country is lost to their senses; they can discover it neither in its own nor under borrowed features, and they retire into a narrow and unenlightened selfishness."
In such a situation as ours, Tocqueville said, it is not enough to call forth the "instinctive patriotism" of the people, "that instinctive, disinterested and undefinable feeling which connects the affections of man with his birthplace."
In a time of turbulence, Tocqueville said, we must turn to the "patriotism of reflection," a sentiment which he acknowledged "is perhaps less generous and less ardent, but...more fruitful and more lasting. It springs from knowledge; it is nurtured by the laws; it grows by the exercise of civil rights; and, in the end, it is confounded with the personal interests of the citizen. I maintain," he concluded, "that the most powerful and perhaps the only means that we still possess of interesting men in the welfare of their country is to make them partakers in the government."
To make them partakers in the government. That is the challenge that now faces our political parties. That is ultimately the test of responsible party government—to make all citizens feel they are partakers and participants in the government.
It will not be easy to revitalize our political parties. Even if that is done, our problems remain awesome. We must somehow rediscover our sense of community, of nationhood. We must heal the scars of slavery and generations of discrimination. We must find a way to meet our inescapably heavy responsibilities in the world, while nourishing the debilitated services on which our own welfare, well-being, and peace of mind depend. And to do all this, we must make our government functional again in the great metropolitan areas, in the states, and in Washington. These are tasks that will test our democratic system and each of us as individuals.
But to settle for less is to admit defeat for our ideals and our aspirations. I have called this article "The Party's Over." The pun is intended, but not the prophecy. I do not believe that our political parties are doomed, unless by our neglect of the services they can provide and the vital role they can play in re-energizing our political system.
But in another sense, the party is over, whether or not the political parties are revived. I do not expect to see again in America the kind of smugness, of euphoria that gripped Washington when I came to the capital city sixteen years ago. Since then, we have gone through the New Frontier and the Great Society and the New American Revolution, each briefer in duration and more patently false in its promise than the slogan that preceded it. If there is one thing the long travail of the last four presidencies has taught us, it is to be skeptical of the easy answer.
In the dark June of 1940, when the Nazi Army had captured Paris and was poised for an assault on England, while the United States stood by, seemingly impotent to act, Walter Lippmann told the reunion of his Harvard class that "upon the standard to which the wise and honest will now repair it is written...You took the good things for granted. Now you must earn them again. It is written: For every right that you cherish, you have a duty which you must fulfill. For every hope that you entertain, you have a task you must perform. For every good that you wish to preserve, you will have to sacrifice your comfort and your ease. There is nothing for nothing any longer."
The cost of being an American citizen is going up. If this nation is to survive and meet its challenges, many of us will have to sacrifice some of our personal luxuries to help pay for the society's neglected needs. What is more, we will have to give up the idea that we can escape from the consequences of our civil irresponsibility by purchasing private passage for our families to the segregated suburbs, to the private schools, and to the protected professions.
It is going to cost us time and energy and thought, diverted from our private concerns, to make government workable and politics responsible again in America. Our parties, our government will be no more representative than we make them, by our own commitment and participation. If we do nothing, we guarantee that our nation will be nothing. There is nothing for nothing anymore. Our choice is simple: either we become partakers in the government, or we forsake the American future.