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April 01, 1980 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday

Page 4-Sunday; March 30, 1980-The Michigan Daily

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a new par

Umontunea from Page 3)
the president's warning that "defeat of
this plan would leave the country
vulnerable and defenseless against a
(gasoline) supply interruption," the
House of Representatives rejected the
plan 246-159. One-hundred and six
Democrats voted against the ad-
Carter then held an angry White
House news conference to accuse House
members of "burying their heads in the
sand." As he stood behind his desk in
the Oval Office, Carter told reporters,
"I was shocked and I was embarrassed
for our, nation's government. This
question indicates, and I hate to say
this, that a majority of the House of
Representatives have been willing to
put local or parochial interests ahead
and let political timidity prevent their
taking action in the interest of our
nation." Carter thus sent a blatant
message to the Congress controlled by
his own party-come up with your own
damn plan.
ST WAS A NASTY confrontation,
but the gas rationing debacle
wasn't the only embarrassment
orthe beleaguered administration that
gasoline-dry summer. That same mon-

th that the rationing plan was defeated,
the House Democratic caucus voted by
a two-thirds majority to condemn the
president's planned decontrol of oil.
The leader of the House anti-decontrol
movement was the 35-year-old liberal
Toby Moffett. Said another Democratic
congressman, Rep. Edward Markley,
of the, vote, "This is a complete
repudiation of the president's position."
The reforms of the nominating
system, instituted by the McGovern
commission, were supposed to open up
the process to the people. But taking the
nominating process out of the hands of
the party leaders has had, unfor-
tunately, some negative results. One of
those is Jimmy Carter.
A lot can be said against the old
closed system that selected the
nominee in smoke-filled rooms. But
when all is said and done, it cannot be
ignored that the party leaders, when
picking a nominee, did often look for
qualities and qualifications that the
general electorate has tended to ignore.
A candidate can, as Carter did, win the
party nomination by stressing personal
appeal and relying on grassroots
organization in the primaries. But he
may be totally unqualified for the
presidency in terms of experience or
some of the political alliances
necessary to govern. The party leaders,
when they were handpicking the
nominee, at least took such
qualifications into account.
For example, most political
historians agree that in 1952 Adlai
Stevenson-who was drafted by the
party leaders-was infinitely more
qualified and would have made a better
president than Estes Kefauver, who
won the majority of state primaries.
Another result of the proliferation of
state primaries is that the nominatingw

process has been stretched into a long
and gruelling war of attrition. In 1980, at
last count, 33 states and Puerto Rico
have held or will be holding Democratic
primaries. There are 35 Republican
primaries. Such an abusing six-month
ordeal tends to dissuade many qualified
candidates-who would make good
presidents-from even entering the
fray. In 1976, for instance, Walter Mon-
dale bowed out of the presidential
sweepstakes after admitting he didn't
have the endurance for a long, drawn-
out primary race, sleeping in cheap
hotels and constantly on the stump with
barely enough time for dinners. His
fellow democrats all agree that Mon-
,dale would make , an excellent
president-the proof of that being in
that they unanimously endorsed him
for Vice-President in 1976. But why
should qualified, experienced can-
didates like a Walter Mondale be ex-
cluded from consideration merely for
not wanting to subject themselves to
the masochistic primary ordeal?
The primary process also does a
disservice to qualified candidates who
would like to maintain a job while run-
ning for president-and the classic
example is Tennessee Senator Howard
Baker. The characteristics that go in-
to making a good United States
Senator-hard work, diligence, atten-
tion to legislative detail-are the same
characteristics that handicap a
presidential candidate under the more
"democratic" primary system, a
system that requires full-time cam-
paigning for six months. Now a system
that left the nominations in the hands of
party stalwarts would have taken into
account Senator Baker's qualifications
as well as Bush's organization or
Reagan's charisma and deep baritone. -
By most accounts, Baker was
perhaps the one Republican in the 1980
primary race most qualified to be
president. tie wa ainree-term
Republian Senator from a heavily
Democratic state, the minority leader
of his party, and almost always at the
forefront of all the major issues. He was
intelligent, affable, and able to build a
bipartisan political alliances. (For in-
stance, he worked with his Democratic
president to pass the Panama Canal
Yet Baker became an early casualty
of the 1980 sweepstakes, not for lack o
qualifications, but because he had not
been devoting his full time to cam-
paigning. While Baker was in
Washington, working on legislation,
George Bush and Ronald Reagan were
spending all their time in Iowa and New
Hampshire, organizing the the troops
and making personal appearances
which, in primary states, is more im-
portant than qualifications.
eliminating many qualified
contenders from the
ranks, the breakdown of our political
parties' power has put America's
governmental machinery at an im-
Primaries to

* A halt to nuclear power;
" A reduction in military spending;
" Lower unemployment rates;
" Increased support of human rights both
domestic and foreign, including aid to the
Equal Rights Amendment, civil rights, and
affirmative action;
* Stable prices for food, fuel, housing, and
medical care, primarily through price con-
trols; and, most importantly,
" Public control of the energy and other
major industries. This control, members
stress, should be as decentralized as
possible, such as through local com-
Members assure observers, however, that
they have a magic solution which will build
a platform from such ambiguous planks:
the party's founding convention in.
Cleveland, in two weeks. At the three-day
convention, not only will the party adopt
platforms, but it will also nominate can-
didates for U.S. ,president and vice-
president for the 1980 election.
With the GOP and Democratic primaries
already in high gear, it would appear almost
too late for another candidate (a virtual
unknown in political circles) to join in the
race. But this fact does not sway Citizens
Party members, whose ranks have already
swelled to include the likes of Grey Panther
Maggie Kuhn and author Studs Terkel.
Names of potential nominees are already
being bandied about. The one most frequen-
tly heard is Barry Commoner, a Washington
University of St. Louis professor of en-
vironmental science, director of the univer-
sity's Center for the Biology of Natural
Systems, and, not coincidentally, one of the
party's more well-known members.
A veteran of numerous newspaper and
television interviews, Commoner already
has some of the prestige needed by poten-
tial presidential candidates; he would
therefore appear to be the logical presiden-
tial nominee for the fledging, publicity-
hungry party. And Commoner himself says
he would run if nominated, although he
refuses to name any potential running
mates. Like the loyal party member he is,
Commoner prefers to leave such decisions
up to the party, a la former President
Jerry Ford.
"It's not up to me. We're not an elitist
party," Commoner insists. "It's different,"'
he adds, skillfully turning the conversation
away from his own aspirations, and back to
the party and its goals.
Despite Commoner's unwillingness to
speculate publicly on the identity of poten-
tial vice-presidential candidates, his most
likely -and thus far, only, opponent for the
presidential nomination has no such
qualms. Larry Manuel, an electrical
engineer from Oakland, Calif., generously
says he would like Commoner to be his run-
ning mate in November. His ultimate goal,
Manual says, is to run as many candidates
as possible, and. have the top vote-getter
become president, the second winner
become vice-president, and the remaining
candidates to become Cabinet members.
This method, Manuel says, will ensure that
the Citizens Party ticket will not be split
between Commoner's supporters and
Manual's supporters.
And yet a split in the party voting is exac-
tly what may occur, especially as the
disparity between the two candidates' plat-
forms becomes more apparent.
Above all else, Commoner is a man with a
specific purpose-the restructuring of
American society. Running for president is,
in his opinion, the method by which society
can best be reshaped. He firmly believes in
running a Citizens Party candidate, whether
it turns out to be he or someone else. "We're
not interested in making gestures or
making people feel good," he says.
Despite the great odds against the election
of a Citizens Party president, Commonerw

and his colleagues believe that running a
candidate will demonstrate the need for
societal changes to the nation's elite. "The
issue is to run as hard as we can and get as
many votes as we can," Commoner says.
The goal percentage of votes to attain
appears to be five per cent, "If we get 'X'
per cent of the vote in 1980, we'll have a foot
in thedoor in redefining political objectives
in the future," says John Lippert, an
organizer of the party's Detroit branch.
"Some people say 'X' per cent is five per
cent. I don't know if we can get five per cent.
I don't know if the Citizens Party candidate
can win in 1980. But a long-term party is
needed. If not the Citizens Party, it'll look
very much like the Citizens Party."
Commoner is perhaps best-known for his
policies on energy and environment-a
distinction which does not please him.
"Broad policies must come from a basic
economic analysis," he says, which in turn
can be related to "current events."
Commoner calls President Carter's
recently-announced budget-balancing plan
"disasterous. It has nothing to do with in-
flation." He claims "falling productivity"
is at the heart of the nation's eco-
nomic ills. For, instance, Commoner cites
an increasing military budget as one
cause of declining economic output. Accor-
ding to Commoner, "building tanks does no
good," because they are useless items; he
advocates altenatively a "sharp cut in the
military budget."
On the issue of energy, Manuel advocates
the "direct collection of solar heat."
Although pressed, Manuel offers little fur-

Commoner offers a solution to the
situation of the 50 hostages in Iran, which
he says would be morally right and would
probably result in the Americans' freedom.
His answer is to make public the history of
America's involvement with the regime of
the deposed shah. "We should make a.clean
breast of it," he asserts.
The differences in ideologies of the poten-
tial nominees represent a choice party mem-
bers will have to make both in candidates
and philosophies of the party itself. Because
despite all attempts to present a unified stance,.
the party is split into two factions, each seeking
to guide it toward a distinct strategic cour-
se. One faction of the party, headed by
Commoner, favors building a party by run-
ning candidates. The opposition advocates
building a grass roots organization,
specializing in projects geared toward
aiding specific groups, such as minorities.
Lippert cites plans such as working toward
"Puerto Rican self-determination or
'Washington' D.C. statehood."
Manuel is an opponent of the Commoner
school. "I'm a reformer," he says. "I'm
more specific (than Commoner) in how to
restructure the government," he adds, a
strong assessment for an unknown.
Ironically, the rift widens somewhat
because Commoner and his allies refuse to
recognize and deal with those differences
that currently exist. "Everyone miscon-
strued the issue," Commoner insists. But
others in the party don't see the situation in
quite the same light, although assessments
of the problem's seriousness vary.
"There's a difference of opinion," Univer-
sity junior Phil Kwik, a member of the par-
ty's Ann Arbor chapter explains mildly.
Kwik adds that he hopes the national con-
vention in Cleveland will straighten out the
According to University Associate Math
Prof. Art Schwartz, another member of the

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Barry Commoner

By Adrienne Lyons
It began as a dream, the epitome of what a
democracy should be.
The its founders began to attempt to mold
it into a tangible reality, complete with form
and content.
But almost a year after its inception, the
Citizens Party has remained little more
than a colorful dream, without substance,
and without life.
Party members say tiey are commited to
answering a cry in the country for an
"alternative" to the Democratic and
Republican Parties, as well as building a
lasting party for today and the future. "It is
not a third party, for we reject the relevance
of the two existing ones," one press release
But despite their own cry for "relevan-
cy," party members persist in speaking in
terms of increased "social control" and
"economic democracy." Fine terms, no
doubt, unless you stop to consider their
Most party members recognize the use, or
overuse, of these "catch-all" phrases. They
will readily admit to a lack of specificity inh
Adrienne Lyons is the Associate-
Editor of the Daily's Sunday Magazine.

the party's platforms. A refreshing change
from the Democrats and Republicans, who
claim to have all the answers for the
nation's ills? Perhaps. But more
realistically, this vagueness is the key to
this new party's problems.
When it was formed last May by a small
group of persons. that included some noted
liberal philanthropists. the Citizens Party
dedicated itself to the principles of "social
change," or public control over private cor-
porations, which they claim make the major
economic decisions affecting the country.
Members say they are a socialist
party, but because of the poor track record
of socialist parties in this country. they at-
tempt to masque their orientation under the
all-encompassing umbrella "Citizens Par-
ty." Since its birth, the party's platforms
have grown little. According to Bert
DeLeuw, the party's national field director
in Washington, D.C., the only solid platform
the party has thus far is a 21-part plan
detailing the party's position on the draft
issue. Asked to describe the plan, DeLeuw
simply replies, "Well, we're against it."
Pressed for elaboration, DeLeuw dodges the,
question, rather unskillfully, finally mum-
bling, "We're against it."
A lack of firm positions has not prevented
the party from making statements about the
issues. For instance, the party's members
believe in:

PAS04 0C 2000 f $Of- O.OiM

ther explanation of his stance. Commoner,
too, favors a transition to solar energy, but
his plan includes the use of grain and wood
alcohol, which Manuel claims is merely a
short-term solution to the problem. But
Commoner says gasohol, an agricultural
product, would also increase farmer
productivity, and therefore further
stimulate the economy.In his recent book,
The Politics of Enetgy, Commoner in-
dicates this plan is not only environmentally
sound, but also onethat would decrease the
nation's need for both domestic and foreign
oil. Commoner says 'he finds few other
energy policies feasible. Gas rationing, for
instance, is nothing more than "the long ap-
proach. You've got to make fuel available
as cheaply as possible through constructive
steps to solve problems, rather than putting
Band-Aids on them."
Like the new economic proposal, Com-
moner says he finds the president's foreign
policy "disastrous." "Carter should have
published an account of (the U.S.'s in-
volvement with) Iran," Commoner adds.
"What's worse is we're making the same
mistake in Saudi Arabia. The Carter doc-
trine is a guarantee of war over Saudi

Ann Arbor branch, the party is aivided into
"the left and not-so-left wings. The party
will never coalesce," Schwartz says, "but
it's unified in that the country is run by a few
mega-giants and no one is for that."
However, the question remains of exactly
how much control the federal government
should have over the party's proposed
programs. As Schwartz says, "You'll never
want private armies."
Disagreements are also cropping up at
local party levels. Kwik says Ann Arbor
chapter members are undecided whether or
not to focusrecruiting efforts on students,
who are among the most transient members
of the community. The Ann Arbor chapter
currently has 16 members.
It appears there is little the upstart Manuel
can do to halt the surging tide of Com-
moner's influence and power within the par-
ty. Many members, including Schwartz, are
unaware of Manuel, and essentially believe
.the Citizen's Party elected Commoner even
before it was fully formed. According to
Schwartz, it was partly this half-promise of
Barry Commoner as a presidential can-
didate that "galvanized the movement.
"Commoner would ne the best candidate,
most likely," Schwartz says. "He's the

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