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

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview

14
A Hard Look at the Primaries

The Democratic primary campaigns of 1972 were expensive and exhausting and to say the least -- or the most -- inconclusive on issues. They were a significant force in choosing the Democratic nominee, Senator George McGovern. They also showed that the Democratic party was greatly divided, if not confused, and that it would have difficulty in uniting behind the nominee.

The 1972 primaries did little to clarify the issues. In Florida and Michigan the race was principally for the school board (busing issue), and in Wisconsin for county or city assessor (property tax). Only in California was there a clear confrontation on the militaryspending issue. The problem of welfare reform was not adequately debated in any of the primaries.

This is not to fault the primary system itself. If there had been no primaries in 1972 and if instead there had been precinct caucuses followed by county and state conventions in all the states, the picture might have been just as clouded.

Yet it is difficult to demonstrate that Democratic presidential primaries over the last twenty-five years have had many positive results either in determination of issues or in selection of candidates.

One exception was 1960, the year in which Senator John Kennedy established himself as a candidate through victories over Senator Hubert Humphrey in the Wisconsin and the West Virginia primaries and then went on to win the nomination and the November election. There is no solid reason, however, to believe that the primaries apart from the person determined the political events of that year or to believe that Senator Humphrey, had he won the same early primaries, would have been nominated.

In 1952 Senator Estes Kefauver challenged President Harry Truman in early primaries. Shortly after Kefauver won the New Hamp

-89-

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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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