The weary, shopworn mechanisms of Massachusetts politics have finally broken down this year. Out of the process of nominating and selecting candidates for the U.S. Senate have come Edward M. Kennedy and George Cabot Lodge, two men of no particular qualification for any political position. Their candidacies, above all, indicate that so far the voters of this Commonwealth have been unwilling to ask of its rundown democracy anything but mediocrity. It is this state of mind that Lodge and Kennedy have exploited to run campaigns that under any other conditions would simply be insults.
Kennedy, who will almost certainly win this election, is a political curiosity by any standards; few other senatorial candidates have been opposed by every major newspaper in the country immediately after announcing their intention to run. His immaturity, inexperience, disinclination to debate with his opponents or to run on any platform save his brother's are by now obvious facts.
To those liberals who oppose Kennedy because he is nothing more than the President's brother, the most important task of this election is to defeat him. The party system proposes an alternative to Kennedy, the liberal Republican Lodge. Yet if despising Teddy is the final reason for casting one's vote, Lodge seems a far from satisfactory alternative. In most respects, in fact, he is exactly like Kennedy. Both men are "family" candidates. Both won nomination because of their youthful charm, and because they can express themselves on extremely complicated and controversial issues without confusing or offending anybody. Neither candidate stands for anything--a set of convictions, a record in office, or even a definite program. They have no opinions, only prejudices they do not argue, only assert. In short, they are conventional senatorial candidates, though a little worse than most. Neither believes in anything, neither has any force or imagination, and it seems entirely safe to say that neither would greatly dignify the Senate.
A vote for Lodge the protests the Kennedy candidacy protests the wrong evil. Kennedy is no doubt preposterous, and a symptom of political sickness, but the real sickness is in the system that produced both candidates, and has insisted that the voters choose between them. It is in protest of the choice that the CRIMSON endorses the Independent candidacy for the Senate of H. Stuart Hughes.
Hughes is a reasonable alternative to the party candidates. He is that occasional but unusual man in American politics, the intellectual radical who wants to widen the range of political discursion. His voice is an extremely useful one at a time when the President, discouraged by a balky Congress, apparently supposes that there is little national support for his most liberal legislation, and insignificant support for legislation even more liberal. Nobody, he evidently feels, is to the left of him; therefore he must moderate his 1960 platform. Carrying through the New Deal programs to their likely conclusions, for example, or devising a really efficient foreign aid program seem less attractive policies if he cannot induce the people to want them. A large vote for Hughes might well indicate to the President that educating the people to radical goals is, after all, possible.
Hughes, certainly, is not the best possible Independent candidate. the CRIMSON agrees with little of his platform. He has not put forward his ideas with extraordinary intelligence or clarity, and although he has never equalled his opponents banality, he has failed to raise the level of the campaign as he hoped to.
Yet for all that, he speaks for a section of American political life that needs enlarging. Nothing so substantial as this can be said of Kennedy or Lodge. Voting for, and hence electing either of them will make not the smallest difference to the country. A large vote for Hughes might. To vote for Hughes is to protest a decrepit, uncaring political system in Massachusetts and to encourage the Kennedy Administration to enact more liberal legislation. In a Senate race of such breathtaking mediocrity, it seems the only reasonable vote.