Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Once Upon a Time There Was Such a Thing as a Liberal Republican

Apologies for the absence of posting over the past few months.  Summers are always more busy than I think they'll be.  Plus, the toxicity of the recent debt ceiling debate hasn't put me much in the mood for writing.  Today, though, is a big day with the Wisconsin State Senate recalls so I'll try to get some posting up tonight as the results come in.  Democrats need to capture three seats to gain the majority.  The most likely gains, in my estimation and in order, would be Kapanke, Hopper, and Darling.

Before we get to that tonight, though, yesterday brought news of the passing of former Oregon governor and senator Mark Hatfield (see obits and rememberances here, here, and here).  Hatfield, who retired from the Senate after 30 years of service in 1996, was someone who would, unfortunately, be completely unrecognizable in today's Congress.  Today we find ourselves in an era when every Republican Senator ranks ideologically to the right of every Democratic Senator.  Hatfield was interesting in that although he was a "liberal Republican," his positions didn't necessarily fall in line with what we've come to understand that label to mean.  Yes, he was more socially liberal, but he was also staunchly pro-life.  Heavily steeped in his Baptist upbringing, his pro-life stance though (counter to what we see today) extended to opposition to the death penalty--an issue he grappled with as Oregon's governor--and most importantly the use of the U.S. military.  Serving in the Navy during WWII, Hatfield saw first hand the devastation of Hiroshima.  Upon election to the Senate he became an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam and throughout his career was a reliable vote against authorizing the use of force, including the Persian Gulf War.

Hatfield's tenure in Congress is also of note in that he embodied the old style independent committee chairman.  He was the top Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee, both during the Republican majorities of 1981-1987 and 1995-6.  Staunchly protective of his prerogatives as chief appropriator, he famously defended his turf against an intra-party uprising brought about by his refusal to support a Balanced Budget Amendment.  It was his vote that sent the measure down to defeat.

While it's easy to become overly nostalgic when thinking about politicians and Congresses long gone, there can be little doubt that our political system would be better off if there were more people like Senator Hatfield still around.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What Does the Death of a Reclusive 104 Year Old Copper Heiress Have to Do With U.S. Senate Elections???

Every once in a while you come across a truly wild and fascinating story that seems to defy belief.  Even better, sometimes these tales have embedded within them some obscure bit of political trivia.  The death of 104 year old Huguette Clark, a long reclusive heir to a massive copper and timber fortune, is filled with the stuff of legend.  As the coverage has discussed, Clark's assets were not only massive, but largely unused.  Last photographed in 1930 (!!!) Clark had lived the last several decades of her life secluded in a variety of New York City hospitals, reportedly surrounded only by her doll collection.  With no direct heirs and few, if any it seems, personal friends or confidants there is very little information about her that might shed light onto her strangely interesting life.

So why am I writing about this?  Well, it turns out that Clark is a direct link to the politics of a bygone American era.  I've always found the Gilded Age to be probably the most interesting period of our political history.  While the post Civil War period is not known for its stellar presidents (although I do admire Grant), the times saw the massive growth of American industry and the rise of such titans as Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and the like.  The politics that developed around and in reaction to this transformation of America was raw, crass, and rough and tumble.  The country was moving westward at a fast clip with a population boom to match.  Industrialization, urbanization, and immigration fueled the birth of modern America...and a lot of people got rich.  The consequences of this unbridled expansion led to a number of policies and movements that are still with us to this day--think Progressivism, the birth of the regulatory state, etc.

This is where Clark comes in.  Her father, Willam A. Clark, was an industrial heavyweight on par with the greats of his time.  Making his fortune in the copper mines and timber fields of the American west, Clark used his millions to try and build political influence and gain elective office.  He bought newspapers and banking interests to further promote his interests.  He was instrumental in the development of Montana and was also an early booster in Nevada.  Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, is named after him.

It was his blatant attempts to parlay his fortune into a Senate seat from Montana that brought him some degree of notoriety.  Remember that until the passage of the 17th Amendment, senators were chosen by state legislatures, not direct election.  The backroom dealings that could lead to such appointments invited all types of corrupt behavior.  Clark's original campaign for the Senate was derailed in 1899 when it was revealed that he engaged in blatant bribery of the legislature.  Nonetheless, he succeeded in capturing the seat two years later and served a single term from 1901 to 1907.  With the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, such decisions were finally put in the hands of voters.  For those who fret about the corrupting role of money in our politics and elections, it's useful to remember just how much better the current system is than the one that preceded it.

It's not often that we get to establish a direct linkage with such distant eras of our society and politics.  While Clark herself didn't directly allow for this, her death does send us back to the time of robber barons and their Gilded Age fortunes.  As her father was quoted as saying, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."

Monday, April 04, 2011

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Dramatic Diversification of America: Census 2010

Up until this point I've been reporting on the release of Census data in a piecemeal way.  In fact, it's actually quite overwhelming to try and keep up with each new batch of numbers.  The directions that one could take their analysis is unending.  Nonetheless, a new story by Ronald Brownstein over at National Journal does an excellent job of putting into context just what the Census is now telling us about America.

The take away...the pace of diversification in the U.S. over the past decade has been staggering.  This will have consequences not just for how we view ourselves, but for our politics as well.  Consider some of the following:
  • The minority share of the population increased in every state between 2000 and 2010
  • The percentage of non-Hispanic whites is 5.4% less than it was in 2000
  • Minorities now make up 46.5% of the under 18 population (up from 39.1% in 2000)
  • Four states are now majority minority--Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas.  In eight other states, minorities comprise between 40 and 50% of the population
This growth has been overwhelmingly driven by Hispanics.  As Brownsein writes:

On the national level, Latinos now represent one in six Americans, or nearly 50.5 million in all.  That's up from one in eight, about 35.3 million, in 2000.   The Hispanic share of the population increased over the past decade in every state, with dramatic gains recorded not only in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas but also in Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, and Rhode Island.  Latinos accounted for a majority of the population growth in 18 states, at least 40 percent of the growth in seven more, and at least 30 percent in five others.  In sum, Hispanics fueled about a third or more of the population growth in 30 states.

So what does this mean electorally???  The premise of this site from its beginning was that demography matters...a lot.  While I never want to discount other factors that shape elections--candidate quality, campaign organization, rhetorical skill, underlying fundamentals like the state of the economy, money, etc.--the driving set of variables for me has always been those that describe who the voters are.  Furthermore, we know that so much of our demographic profile is wrapped up in a historical and cultural narrative as well--look no further than our history with race in this country.  Thus, if you tell me who the voters are and where they are I'm pretty confident that I can tell you what they're going to do.

Which gets us to the second part of Brownstein's article.  Given what we know about how the minority vote has broken down over recent cycles, these numbers are very good news for the Democrats not only in the short term but especially long term.  Republican success in 2010 was built upon 1) decreased turnout among minority and new voters and 2) overwhelming support from whites.  In 2008, Barack Obama received 43% of the white vote yet won the largest share of the popular vote of any Democrat since LBJ.  National Journal ran a series of scenarios based on a further erosion of white support for Obama in 2012 and found, nonetheless, little reason to bet against him.  Consider:

Obama, for instance, won Florida last time with 42 percent of the white vote; under this scenario, if he maintains his minority support he could win the Sunshine State with just under 40 percent of the white vote.  With equal minority support in Nevada, the president could win with only 35 percent of the white vote, down from the 45 percent he garnered in 2008.  Likewise, under these conditions, Obama could take Virginia with just 33.5 percent of whites, well down from the 39 percent he captured last time.  In New Jersey, his winning number amon whites would fall to just over 41 percent (compaerd with the 52 percent he won in 2008).  In Pennsylvania, under these circumstances, 41% of white votes would be enough to put the state in Obama's column, down from the 48% he won in 2008.

All of this takes place even though minority turnout, especially among Hispanics, lags behind that of whites (African American turnout was up substantially in 2008).  If, going forward, mobilization and turnout among Latinos were to approach that seen among African Americans, the situation for Republicans would get even more dire.  If I were going into politics today as a young progressive and wanted to find a niche for myself that guaranteed I'd have meaningful work for the rest of my career, I'd focus on Latino mobilization and turnout. 

This all assumes, of course, that minorities' allegiances stay firmly in the Democratic camp.  For the party's sake, one would hope that Republicans would figure out a strategy to cope with these numbers.  Watching the current crop of GOP presidential candidates as well as those on Capitol Hill, it's clear that they haven't figured this out yet.  Pointing to Marco Rubio as a reason to believe you can win Hispanics is not a strategy.  Party allegiances and loyalties are formed over time and require an understanding of why voters evaluate the parties the way they do.  For Latino and African American voters, the Democrats have had this understanding--and a willingness to seek it--for much longer.  These new numbers seem to suggest that they are in position to reap the benefits for years to come.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Remembering "The Day The New Deal Began"

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of an event which did much to shape the direction of American politics throughout the 20th century. On March 25, 1911, the fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory claimed the lives of 146 individuals, mostly young women. Though an accident, the fire did much to jump start reforms related to workplace safety, child labor, and wages.  One can view the list of the victims, plus short snippets about them, here.

Two years ago I did a post on probably the best history of the fire, David Von Drehle’s “Triangle.” In it, I noted how Von Drehle weaves together a number of strains of our political history around the event and shows how the fire served as a lens through which we can view such stories as those of women’s suffrage, the labor movement, urbanization, immigration, and the evolution of the modern Democratic Party.

This week the New York Times has been running a number of excellent stories about the fire and its legacy. All are well worth reading to get a sense of just how important an event this was to our history. Also, there are a few films that have been made recently worth checking out. PBS’s American Experience has their film on the fire available to view here. HBO also has a documentary that will begin airing this weekend. Both have websites with additional resources. Finally, the Center for American Progress will be hosting an event tomorrow with several commentators discussing the legacy of the fire.

On the day of the fire Frances Perkins, then the head of the New York Consumers League, was in her office just blocks away across Washington Park. A witness to the day’s horrific events, she became one of the most forceful activists pushing for the reforms that ultimately came out of city and state government. A loyal supporter of Franklin Roosevelt, she became Secretary of Labor during his first term and as such was the first woman named to a Cabinet position. Thus, she and FDR were in position to further their progressive reforms and embed them in federal policy. Reflecting on the fire many years later, she called March 25, 1911 “the day the New Deal began.”

With a lot of attention being paid to labor unions in recent weeks, it’s important to have a broad historical perspective about their development and role in our society and politics. Events like the Triangle Fire show us not only how the labor movement has contributed to the creation of many policies that we today take for granted; it also reminds us that for many Americans, like the women who died that day, they offered a voice, an entrance into political life, and a path out of poverty.

**For a list of events happening in commemoration of the anniversary, see here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Much Trouble are Democrats In If They're Losing the Most and Least White States???

Here’s an interesting finding from Lee Drutman at the Progressive Policy Institute regarding the decline in Democratic identification across the country. Testing a number of potential variables, the one with the strongest, statistically significant correlation is the percentage of the state’s population that is white. Thus, the more white a state is, the greater the decline in Democratic affiliation among its voters.

Back during the 2008 electoral season, I wrote a fair bit about Thomas Schaller’s “Whistling Past Dixie” which counseled Democratic candidates to essentially write off the possibility of winning Deep South states. Despite the fact that these states have the highest concentration of African American voters—the most solid part of the Democratic coalition—they have become the hardest states for Democrats to win. The reason, according to Schaller, is that the long history of racial polarization and antagonism in these states have produced a reaction among white voters:

The central irony of southern politics is that the nation’s most Republican region is home to half of all African Americans, the Democratic party’s most loyal voters. Unfortunately, racial antagonisms exacerbate the Democrats’ electoral problems in the South, creating a white countermobilization—a “backlash” so to speak—that fuels Republican victories. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, many of George W. Bush’s biggest wins came in southern states with the highest share of African Americans, and some Democratic congressional candidates are capturing as little as 30 percent of the white vote in the south.

Schaller’s book was written before the 2008 election and much of the analysis I did of President Obama’s victory confirmed his underlying thesis. For example, in a statistic that never fails to amaze me, John Kerry received a higher share of the white vote in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi than Barack Obama did.

Drutman doesn’t attempt to offer an explanation as to white might be driving the current trend of declining Democratic affiliation. He’s simply pointing out the correlation. It may, in fact, be a normal correction from the abnormally high gains made by Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. For example, some of these homogenous states such as New Hampshire and other parts of New England have been home to a traditional Yankee Republicanism. The current emphasis on economic and fiscal issues re-enforces that tradition.

Nonetheless, these numbers should be worrisome to Democrats going into 2012 and are worth watching as we move closer to the election.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another Time the State Capitol Was Overtaken

I’ve been writing a lot over at the Washington Examiner about the events in Wisconsin, trying to add a bit of context to what has transpired. To continue with the historical discussion, I thought I’d say a few words about another time when the state capitol in Madison was overtaken by protesters.

Late last year I came across a book that I had long hoped someone would write. "The Selma of the North" by Patrick D. Jones tells the story of the civil rights movement in Milwaukee. One of the shortcomings of a lot of the civil rights history (thankfully being rectified in recent years) is that it has focused almost all of its attention on the south. Whereas the movement in the south was directed largely on the issues of voting rights, public accommodations, and other basic constitutional protections, the focus in the north was on a wholly different set of problems. With voting rights not in dispute, the problems confronted in the north were in many ways more intractable and divisive—and in reality still with us to this day. The major conflicts were around school integration (with busing being an especially contentious component) and housing.

Jones centers his narrative around the figure of Fr. James Groppi. A charismatic priest in Milwaukee who was radicalized by his experiences in an inner city Milwaukee parish and by his participation in the protests in the south, Groppi was an immensely polarizing figure in 1960’s Milwaukee. He became a leader of Milwaukee’s NAACP Youth Core and helped channel the movement’s energies around issues of education and open housing in Milwaukee. A great on-line resource about Milwaukee’s civil rights protests can be found at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library’s website.

To appreciate the complexity and intensity of the protests around housing, one needs to wrestle with the reality of how many northern cities evolved in the early and mid part of the 20th century. As the two Great Migrations saw the African American populations of cities like Milwaukee explode (it grew 700% between 1945 and 1970) the white populations of these cities resisted the need to accommodate the newcomers in anything other than the already existing, overcrowded urban core. For perhaps the best examination of this tension, check out Beryl Satter’s "Family Properties" that explores how Chicago wrestled with housing at the same time Groppi was agitating up the interstate in Milwaukee. To this day, Milwaukee and Chicago remain two of the most segregated cities in America.

In 1969, toward the end of his work in Milwaukee and as his militancy increased, Groppi turned his attention to the issue of welfare. In response to proposed cuts in the state budget (sound familiar???) aimed at poor women and children, Groppi led a march of welfare recipients from Milwaukee to Madison. There, they took over the chambers of the State Assembly for eleven hours before they were ejected and Groppi was arrested. While the protests gained the support of many in the anti-war community in Madison, its numbers where nowhere near what we’ve seen over the past month. Nonetheless, I was reminded of the Groppi marches when watching and reading the coverage of the current protests.

As a final note, it’s important to remember that the Civil Rights movement in the north, including the Milwaukee protests, drove a wedge between what was at that point two pillars of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition—African Americans and white, urban ethnics (many of whom belonged to unions). George Wallace, for example, received 31% of the vote in Milwaukee during his quixotic quest for the Democratic nomination in 1964. He famously kick started his Wisconsin campaign at Serb Hall, the hub of the white urban ethic community on Milwaukee’s South Side. As I wrote a few weeks back in discussing the plight of “Reagan Democrats,” the issue of race was one that led many of these voters to gravitate to the Republicans. While union voters have been coming back to the Democrats—and may now be in the midst of a sprint back to the left— what remains to be seen is whether a strong bond can be forged between these two oftentimes estranged voting blocs.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Couple of Quick Notes of Demographic Interest

Two quick things of note based on recently released Census data:

Out of California, more evidence of the surge in the Latino population.  Now, more than half of the children in Califronia are Latinos.  Among all age groups, Latinos are now virtually on par with whites.  They represent 38% and 40% of the population respectively.

The political implications of this are obvious.  As the story notes, California was one state that withstood the gains made by Republicans across all other parts of the country.  While redistricting plays a part of this as well--California has perhaps the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the country--the importance of the Latino vote to Democrats will only grow.  While Latino turnout still lags considerably behind that of other groups, the sheer surge in the population is good news for Democrats, not just in California, moving forward.

The second story worth mentioning deals with a topic I've written about here before--namely the Great Migration.  Census data from Chicago shows, interestingly, that the African American population in the city actually declined between 2000 and 2010.  What seems to be happening is a larger pattern of the "Great Migration in Reverse."  Discussed in this earlier study by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, recent years have seen large numbers of African Americans migrate from northern industrial cities like Chicago to southern metropolises like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Houston.  The proportion of the African American population now living in the south is the highest it's been since 1960.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Unions and the Democratic Vote

First off, some housekeeping.  The posting here has been extremely light as of late.  The reason for this is that I've recently joined the ranks at the Washington Examiner's Opinion Zone blog.  Thus, much of what has been running through my head has been appearing over there.  I'm going to work hard to keep posting over here as well.

The big story of the past few weeks has been the debate about the role of unions, specificially public sector unions, in our political system.  As numerous states, most notably Wisconsin, try to fix budget deficits, public sector unions have been called upon to increase their contributions to health care, pension, and other benefit packages.  While Wisconsin unions have agreed to these concessions, legislation that would take away their collective bargaining rights have set off a firestorm, resulting in large scale protests and a crippled state government.

In the commentary surrounding this, the role of unions more broadly in our politics has gotten quite a bit of attention.  I've written about this here and here.  To summarize, unions have been a key component of the Democratic Party's electoral coalition even as their membership has been declining and has been becoming more public than private sector oriented.  To get a sense of this, I thought I'd run an experiment whereby I rank states according to their level of unionization and see if there is a rough correlation with their statewide vote in presidential contests.  Thanks to the good folks over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one can get this data quite easily.

I've put together the following chart which looks at the past five presidential elections.  For each year I've ranked the 50 states plus DC according to the percentage of the population that belongs to a union--represented in the second column for each year.  I've then color coded the state for how it voted.

One thing to note is that while there is some variation as to the relative rankings of the states as to their level of unionization, by and large the state orderings remain constant.  High unionization states include New York, Hawaii, Michigan, Alaska, Washington, and California while low unionization states include the states of the deep south.  As you can clearly see, highly unionized states have tended to vote Democratic (and vice versa for low unionization states).  This obviously isn't a huge surprise but it is nice to be able to view the data this way.  Consider that in 2008, Barack Obama won 23 of the 27 most unionized states in the country.  He also, interestingly, won 2 of the 4 least unionized. 

As I was creating this chart, the Clinton elections of 1992 and 1996 jumped out as having seemingly less of a correlation between state unionization and the vote.  Clearly there was some regional appeal taking place with his wins in Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas (wins that no subsequent Democratic nominee has been able to replicate).  However, at the top of the scale, Clinton did just as well as Obama.  Thus, equating national or statewide electoral outcomes simply with union presence is a mistake.  There are a variety of other variables at play--a point made the other day by Nate Silver in an excellent post on the subject.  Especially when we have elections that verge on entering "landslide" territory, isolating one variable and assigning causality is likely to steer us in the wrong direction.

Nonetheless, it shouldn't surprise us that the proposals unleashed over the past weeks by Republican governors across the midwest--where presidential elections are ultimately decided--have set off the reaction they have.  Unions clearly see these bills not just as part of a debate about fiscal policy, but as a more fundamental attack on their role in society and politics. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sargent Shriver R.I.P.

Yesterday brought the sad news of the passing of R. Sargent Shriver (more remembrances here and here).  Best known for his work in the creation and leading of the Peace Corps, his direction of LBJ's War on Poverty, and for his tireless work for Special Olympics, Shriver also played a crucial role in several elections, both as a candidate and a confidante.  I'm going to devote a couple posts to Shriver, someone who I was vervy fortunate to meet while in college and who was inspirational to me in a lot of ways.

The first electoral episode that I want to explore relates to Shriver's role in the 1960 Kennedy campaign.  As brother in law to then candidate Kennedy, Shriver played an active role in many aspects of the campaign--delegate courting, position development, and especially working the important Illinois operation given Shriver's close ties to Chicago as head of the Merchandise Mart and positions on numerous boards and community organizations.  Most importantly, Shriver was the head of the campaign's Civil Rights section.  One thing that I think a lot of people take for granted is up until this point the African American vote was not as monolithically Democratic as it is today, nor was it as important to candidates' electoral college math.  Prior to FDR's ability to pull black voters into the New Deal Coalition, African Americans--dating back to Lincoln and Reconstruction--had strong GOP sympathies.  Furthermore, prior to the Great Migrations around World War I and II, the blacks (with few if any voting rights) tended to be heavily concentrated in the already solid Democratic deep south.  Thus, by the time of the 1960 election, Democratic candidates were becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the growing northern black vote, especially in close elections.  The peril of courting this vote however, was that it endangered upsetting southern whites whose votes were also crucial to victory.

Here is where Shriver played a crucial role in Kennedy's election.  In Theodore White's magisterial "The Making of the President 1960," he recounts Kennedy's deft decision, orchestrated by Shriver, to swing large numbers of black voters to the Kennedy ticket, thus helping ensure his narrow victory.  I'll quote at length:

The most interesting and precise of the decisions of this period, however, was one made by the candidate himself--particularly as it contrasted with the simultaneous Nixon decision on the same problem.  This concerned the Martin Luther King affair--an episode that tangled conscience with the most delicate balancing of the Northern Negro--Southern white vote.

Martin Luther King is one of the genuine heroes of the tumultuous Negro struglle for authentic equality in American life; a luminous man, he speaks responsibly for the best there is in his community.  On Wednesday, October 19th--at about the same time of the day that John Kennedy and Richard Nixon were addressing the American Legion in Miami on the national defense--Martin Luther King was arrested with fifty-two other Negroes in Rich's Department Store in Atlanta for refusing to leave a table in its Magnolia Room restaurant.  On the following Monday, all other "sit-ins" arrested in this episode were released; King alone was held in jail and, worse, sentenced on a technicality to four months' hard labor and thereupon whisked away secretly to the State Penitentiary.  This was no ordinary arrest--no Negro in America has more deservedly earned greater warmth and adoration from his fellow Negroes, North or South, than Martin Luther King; but no Negro menaces the traditional prerogatives of Southern whites more importantly.  It was not beyond possibility that he would never emerge alive from Reidsville State Prison, deep in "cracker" country, where he had been taken; nor did anyone believe more in the prospect of his lynching than his wife, then six months pregnant...The American Negro community girded; so did Southern whites; during the previous few weeks, even before the arrest, no less than three Southern governors had informed Kennedy headquarters directly that if he intruded in Southern affairs to support or endorse Martin Luther King, then the South could be given up as lost to the Democratic ticket.  Now Kennedy must choose.  This was a crisis.

The crisis was instantly recognized by all concerned with the Kennedy campaign.  On the night of Tuesday, October 25th, the suggestion for meeting it was born to one of those remarkably competent young men that the Kennedy organization had brought into politics to direct the Civil Rights Section of their campaign, a Notre Dame law professor named Harris Wofford.  Wofford's idea was as simple as it was human--that the candidate telephone directly to Mrs. King in Georgia to express his concern.  Desperately Wofford tried to reach his own chief, Sargent Shriver, head of the Civil Rights Section of the Kennedy campaign, so that Shriver might break through to the candidate while barnstorming somewhere in the Middle West.  Early Wednesday morning, Wofford was able to locate Shriver, the gentlest and warmest of the Kennedy clan (he had married Eunice Kennedy, the candidate's favorite sister) in Chicago--and Shriver enthusiastically agreed.  Moving fast, Shriver reached the candidate at O'Hare Inn at Chicago's International Airport as the latter was preparing to leave for a day of barnstorming in Michigan.

The candidate's reaction to Wofford's suggestion of participation was impulsive, direct and immediate.  From his room at the Inn, without consulting anyone, he placed a long distance telephone call to Mrs. Martin Luther King, assured her of his interest and concern for her suffering and, if necessary, his intervention.

Mrs. King, elated yet still upset, informed a few of her closest friends.  Through channels of Negro leadership, the word swiftly spread from Atlanta, and thus to the press, that Kennedy had intervened to protect the imprisoned Negro leader.  And Bobby Kennedy, informed in the course of the day of the command decision, proceeded even further and the next morning telephoned a plea for King's release from New York to the Georgian judge who had set the sentence; on Thursday King was released from Reidsville prison on bail, pending appeal--safe and sound.

The entire episode received only casual notice from the generality of American citizens in the heat of the last three weeks of the Presidential campaign.  But in the Negro community the Kennedy intervention rang like a carillon.  The father of Martin Luther King, a Baptist minister himself, who had come out for Nixon a few weeks earlier on religious grounds, now switched.  "Because this man," said the Reverend Mr. King, Senior, "was willing to wipe the tears from my daughter-in-law's eyes, I've got a suitcase of votes, and I'm going to take them to Mr. Kennedy and dump them in his lap."  Across the country scores of Negro leaders, deeply Protestant but even more deeply impressed by Kennedy's action, followed suit.  And where command decision had been made, the Kennedy decision could follow through.  Under Wofford's direction a million pamphlets describing the episode were printed across the country, half a million in Chicago alone, whence they were shipped by Greyhound bus.  On the Sunday before election, these pamphlets were distributed outside Negro churches across the country.  One cannot identify in the narrowness of American voting of 1960 any one particular episode or decision as being more important than any other in the final tallies: yet when one reflects that Illinois was carried by only 9,000 votes and that 250,000 Negroes are estimated to have voted for Kennedy; that Michigan was carried by 67,000 votes and that an estimated 250,000 Negroes voted for Kennedy; that South Carolina was carried by 10,000 votes and that an estimated 40,000 Negroes there voted for Kennedy, the candidate's instictive decision must be ranked among the most crucial of the last few weeks.

Next time...Shriver is tapped, belatedly, as George McGovern's running mate in 1972.