The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview

12
The Democratic and Republican Parties

After the 1964 defeat of the Republican presidential candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater, political pundits started writing about the end of the Republican party as an effective political instrument.

Lyndon Johnson defeated Goldwater in 1964 by a margin of about sixteen million votes. Four years later that margin disappeared; Republican candidate Richard Nixon won the presidency by roughly five hundred thousand votes. And four years after that the same Richard Nixon, running for re-election, defeated the Democratic candidate, Senator George McGovern, by a margin of almost eighteen million votes.

One must ask whether presidential elections depend principally on the personalities of candidates, whether the country changed that much politically in a period of only eight years, or whether the political parties changed that much.

If one concludes that personality is the dominant factor, the party search between elections should be for the right man or woman. Yet in the elections since the death of Franklin Roosevelt, with the exception of the choice of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, personality does not appear to have been the principal force in determining the outcome. If it were, one would have to believe that John Kennedy's margin over Richard Nixon in 1960 would have been larger and also believe that Nixon's margin over McGovern in 1972 would have been smaller.

Undoubtedly the country changed in eight years, but not enough to explain the voting swing from 1964 to 1972. This leaves only the political parties as possible causes of the swing.

What happened to the Republican party? Certainly its leader, President Nixon, made significant changes in his past positions. Despite his long support of the cold war, by 1972 he took credit for a

-75-

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The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction by Tom Wicker vii
  • Preface xix
  • Part I - Institutions 1
  • 1 - Toward a More Responsible Presidency 3
  • 2 - The Vice President as Crown Prince 15
  • 3 - Changes in the Congress 19
  • 4 - The Courts, the Last Appeal 28
  • 5 - Court of Ideas 32
  • 6 - A Kind Word for the Bureaucrats 35
  • 7 - A Kind Word for the Military 45
  • 8 - A Warning About the Military Establishment 49
  • 9 - The Cia and the Inner Ring 58
  • 10 - The Corporations 61
  • 11 - The Universities 68
  • 12 - The Democratic and Republican Parties 75
  • 13 - Alternatives to the Major Parties 80
  • Part II - Operations 87
  • 14 - A Hard Look at the Primaries 89
  • 15 - Personality Cults 96
  • 16 - The Cult of the Expert 97
  • 17 - A Good and Becoming Exit 100
  • 18 - Listen to Mr. Parkinson 104
  • 19 - The Sst: Object Lesson in Dynamics of Opposition 106
  • 20 - The Lobbyists 109
  • 21 - Grant Park, Chicago 116
  • 22 - Marching on Washington 118
  • 23 - Changing America 122
  • Part III - Principles 125
  • 24 - Innocence in Politics 127
  • 25 - Language and Politics 130
  • 26 - Poetry and War 135
  • 27 - Ares 144
  • 28 - Intellectuals and Politics 148
  • 29 - Out of Phase 155
  • 30 - Trouble in the Economics Community 158
  • 31 - Constitutional Amendments 165
  • 32 - Five Systems of Justice 170
  • 33 - The Enemies List 173
  • 34 - Censorship 182
  • Part IV - A Good Person is Not So Hard to Find 185
  • 35 - John Bennett 187
  • 36 - Emerson Hynes 189
  • 37 - John Kennedy 190
  • 38 - Dan and Doris Kimball 193
  • 39 - Robert Lowell 196
  • 40 - Wayne Morse 197
  • 41 - Lewis Mumford 203
  • 42 - Eleanor Roosevelt 205
  • 43 - Frank Rosenblatt 207
  • 44 - Adlai Stevenson 208
  • Notes 215
  • Index 223
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