.The left's ups and downs, and HRP
By BOB ALEXANDER In order to take' hold, the
(Third of a four-part series) movement must have the sup-
port of the electoral and non-"
The cyclical nature of the electoral community. Obviously
political left in Ann Arbor is electoral groups could contrib-
borne out by the rise of the ttte votes. Non-electoral groups
Democrats in the mid and late contribute ideas, workers, fund-
60s, and the birth and develop- ing, facilities, and the overall
ment of the Human Rtights Par- imnetus which finalv decides
ty in the early 70s. the success or failure of the
But vision, means of imple- political movement.
mentation and unity are only -
three parts of the pn-1le of left- TIlE ASCENDANCY of the
ist movement successes. Anoth- Democratic Party in the mid 60s
er crucial ingredient is a con- showed these ingredients. The
structive climate in which politi- working class and community
cal programs could be discussed. activist groups supported the
The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Thursday, May 12, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552
Drinking age at 18:,
s it on the rocks?
IF MICHIGAN high school principals get their way,
18-year-old men and women would be able to vote,
get drafted, and be recognized as adults in the eyes
of the law and courts. But those same men and wom-
en would not be able to go out for a nightcap, or a
beer at lunch, because, these public officials say, "they
can't handle it."
Michigan high school principals want to raise the
drinking age in this state to 19 or 20. They want to tam-
per with the age of legal majority because those same
administrators don't know how to handle the drunk
student in school.
Raising the drinking age would not solve their dis-
cipline problems. In fact, those students tending to
attend classes , while somewhat intoxicated could still
attend the same classes in the same cpndition.
Enforcement of the drinking age could cause other
problems. Law enforcement officials could use their time
in better ways than attempting to ensure Jane and
Johnny don't down a beer with lunch.
To pull one of the privileges of adulthood from the
pool of rights and responsibilities of majority is unreal-
istic, and unfair to those it affects most drastically--
18, 19 and 20 year olds.
JET IN PUBLIC HEARINGS around the state, elected
officials have been plagued by pleas to raise the drink-
Eighteen, 19 and 20 year olds, legally regarded as
adults, should have the priviledge to drink as well.
Granted, there will be those who cannot handle
alcohol. In fact, ten per cent of our total population
(not just ten per cent of the majority) has a problem
But to take out the legal consequences of that grim
statistic on a group of individuals due to the actions
of a few of that group in high school parking lots across
the state is patently unfair.
The saddest fact is that the arbitrarily adjudicated
drinking age - regardless of where it is set - does
not prevent things such as teen-age alcoholism any-
more than drug laws prevent addiction at any age.
Problems allegedly caused by liquor on campuses in
this state must be solved by the administrators on those
campuses if the solutions are to be deemed valid by any.
Raising the drinking age is clearly an invalid solution
to high school discipline problems.
movement. More radical groups
were not on the ballot, so threw
their so'nnort to the Democrats.
Co-nnil Demo-rats led on rele-
vast ises such as low-income
n-hli' ho-ing, fair housing and
ennlovnmont ordinances, the
Msoil rCitb's orOiect and urban
bes,,tificstin. I herals were al-
so strong on the School Board.
The movement was far to the
l"ft of the State Democratic
But desnite a Democratic
sween of the mnvoral and Coun-
cil nositions. the liberal move-
ment was doomed by nation-
wide Democratic Party divisions
National Democratic Party
flounderinas and the lack of
Democratic Party support for
area leftist activities (such as
the Black Action Movement)
(BAM) strike brewed a frustra-
tion among Ann Arbor' leftists.
With an increasing ability to
develop counter-culture institu-
tions, the political left called
for its own party --- The Human
Rights Party. 4
visionaries, idealists and social-
ists quickly developed a plat-
form which included most "hot"
ijsues ignored by other political
parties. Activist life styles of
the 60s dictated the party's
structure: open-consensts deci-
sion-making, steering commit-
tees, commitment by the group
to help women and minorities,.
and direct party discussion of
A significant HRP develop-
ment was the city committee
which effectively channeled all
offers of help and information
councilmembers often receive
but are not able to use.
It was the HRP's city com-
mittee which focused the vision-
aries ideas, the implementors
activities and the community's
insights and supportive energy.
This unity made the HRP at-
tempts at politicizing the cam-
ps area susccessful.
The most remarkable aspect
of the HRP was the work the
party put into politicizing the
THE PROCESS began in the
simmer, usually a slack time
for other city parties. The HRP
analyzed issues to discern which
issues could "turn on" voters
to city politics. In late August,
while the city went on vacation,
HRP activists finished the prep-
arations for the fall push.
The fall politicizing effort by
TARP was perhaps its least un-
drstood or appreciated activity
No sooner would the football
ticket lines form than HRP sup-
porters would "work the lines"
explaining what had happened
politically during the summer,
what the HRP was all about,
and most importantly, why it
was necessary to vote in Ann
Voter registrars would also
work the lines, then theater
lines, and finish with long hours
of door-to-door reglistration in
CANVASSING of this quality.
would involve lots of talking with
folks, but the real issue was to
get each person interested in
the importance of local politics.
The HRP thought newly reg-
istered voters would easily be
convinced to vote for the HRP
since the HRP had done the
majority of door-to-door regis-
November and December,
months when the campus con-
centrates on studies, were also
the months of middle level re-
cruitment for the HRP. Party
officials and candidates for the
Anril elections would be selec-
ted, and it was an ideal time
for contributions from outsiders.
Most HRP workers put little
energy into the primaries, but
worked on canvassing for the
ballot issues instead.
BUT THE MAYORAL primar-
ies of '73 and '75 and 2nd Ward
nrimary in '75 were exceptions.
Those contests involved the
prime difficulties in a multi-
party situation. The strategic
move to support moderate can-
didates in order to block the
election of a consevative was a
conflict which divided the HRP.
As the conflict continued, more
and more supporters lessened
their zeal for the HRP.
The last phase of the annual
politicizing process consisted of
efforts to elect HRP candidates
to the school board. The liberal
Democrats had done it in their
heyday of the 60s.
But because the HRP's elec-
toral power was concentrated
only in part of the city (and
even that dissipated in the sum-
mer months), the HRP was
never successful. HRP bids for
school board seats were less
successful each year.
From the school board failure,
it was a downward spiral
through the next months until
the party's demise in 1975.
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