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IT IS POSSIBLE that Nixon supporters exaggerate when they say that America is faced with the choice of a century. But it is certain that the immediate future of millions of Vietnamese will be decided by the upcoming American election.

Today, and every day, 4000 tons of bombs are dropped on North Vietnam. Since Richard Nixon look office, almost 4 million tons of American bombs, rockets and bullets have fallen from the skies of Indochina. By the end of this fiscal year, the Nixon Administration will have spent over $54.5 billion on its war. Two months ago, according to Congressional figures, the Nixon death toll totaled 19,898 Americans 88.949 South Vietnamese and 441.955 "enemy soldiers" (an "enemy soldier," in American parlance, in any Vietnamese person deliberately killed by United States or ARVN troops.)

Brutalized by a war they cannot comprehend. Americans skim over such numbers easily. An Administration with no respect for truth has lied so consistently to them that they still believe their country is fighting for the self-determination of the Vietnamese people. Nixon's defenders recite isolated incidents of terrorism by the National Liberation Front but overlook the greater terrorism of ARVN troops and the infinitely more monstrous terror of indiscriminate American bombing. Bolstering an arrogant puppet regime against an uncontainable revolution. American bomber pilots are incinerating a land, a people and a culture.

Photographs tell us that Indochina may never recover from the brute force of American violence. The imprint of the war on the American conscience is just as indelible. The war will end-if not this year, then four years from now. But after the fighting stops. Americans may finally be forced to grapple with the enormity of what they have done.

IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT to imagine a figure less qualified than Richard Nixon to deal with a question of morality. One wonders if the greater immorality of the Vietnam War has blinded Americans to the glaring corruption of this Administration. Shabby scandals have surfaced with alarming regularity. In the ITT-Dita Beard case, the Republicans overlooked a violation of antitrust law when ITT promised to underwrite the Party convention in San Diego. In a similar manner, Nixon changed his mind and permitted the artificially supported price of milk to rise after sizable campaign contributions from the National Dairy Association. Small grain farmers did not profit from the U.S.-U.S.S.R. trade agreement because big grain dealers, informed of an impending contract by their close Department of Agriculture contacts, simply bought up wheat and waited for the Russian deal to raise prices." The greatest scandal of all, of course, is the Watergate farce, a thoroughly unprincipled try at political espionage. Recent newspaper accounts expose the efforts of Republican officials to sabotage the Muskie candidacy in New Hampshire by forging letters and subverting campaign schedules. The Muskie incidents and the Watergate affair, which newspapers each day link more clearly to the President and his closest advisors, are reminders that for Richard Nixon, even the electoral process is not sacrosanct.

Nixon's economic policies are merely the extension of his scandals: robbery on a more grandiose scale. The Old Nixon believed in capitalism for all. The New Nixon believes in capitalism for the poor but socialism for the rich. When the President took office, the national rate of unemployment was 3.6 per cent. During his administration, unemployment soared to over 6 per cent of the work force. Today, after all the ballyhoo of his New Economic Policy, the unemployment rate is 5.5 per cent. Although committed noisily to the work ethic, Nixon has done little to counteract the worst spell of unemployment in recent years. The overwhelming proportion of his tax benefits go to big business. The rich profit greatly from investment credits and advanced depreciation. In the short run, unfortunately, while the rich become wealthier the unemployed remain jobless. Richard Nixon is the modern version of Robin Hood he steals from the poor and gives to the rich.

Nixon has stolen more than money from the American people. His Administration constantly chips away at their civil liberties. Under Nixon, reporters are jailed when they refuse to answer a grand jury's questions on the grounds that a response would dry up their news sources. Under Nixon, an American newspaper was taken to court to prevent the publication of material that could in no way threaten the security of the United States. Under Nixon, wiretaps are employed with reckless abandon and defended at an acceptable form of social control. Nixon's mediocre Supreme Court relaforces repression. Nixon's Vice-President indulges in rhetoric which scorns civil liberties and vilifies a free press. Nixon transforms such words into official policy.

IF NIXON'S OPPONENT were another man of corrupted sensibilities, we could rightfully despair. But George McGovern is a decent man. Pitted against a President who spins lies and breaks lives with extravagance, McGovern, despite the claims of his opponent, emerges as a sober and honest representative of the American heartland.

McGovern's Vietnam plan would end the war. Withdrawal of American military support would and the destruction of Indochina and return American prisoners to their homes. Nixon has manipulated the prisoner issue to gain favor with the voters. In fact, as McGovern has said, continued American bombing not only protracts the war, it also creates more prisoners. Since Nixon took office, 550 Americans have been reported captured or missing in action. No nation releases prisoners before the fighting stops. After the French left Vietnam, all their prisoners were returned. The real prisoner issue in Vietnam concerns not the captive Americans, but the political prisoners kept in South Vietnamese "tiger cages" and the NLF soldiers who are tortured and then killed. Only when the Americans leave Vietnam can all of the prisoners still alive be free again.

The money that will be saved by ending this destruction can be ploughed back into the national economy. McGovern's first priority is to create jobs for the unemployed by spending money on public works. He would cut $20 billion a year from the grossly padded defense budget, a budget which encourages such financial disasters as the Lockheed debacle. He would introduce tax reforms and make a small step toward equalizing the distribution of income in this country. Unlike the value-added tax which a second Nixon Administration would probably levy on the common man, the McGovern proposals would close up many tax inequities. McGovern would guarantee an annual income of $4000 to a family of four that lacks an able worker.

THESE ARE HUMANE policies, proposed try humane man. They stand in sharp contrast to the cynical policies of the last four years. Yet many people who dislike Nixon are unimpressed by McGovern. They point to his reversal on the welfare proposals, his mishandling of the Eagleton candidacy, his vacillation on Pierre Salinger's trip to Paris. Clearly these are all errors. But how can McGovern's backsliding on his welfare and Eagleton positions compare to Nixon's murderous determination to pound the Vietnamese into submission? How can McGovern's cover-up for Salinger compare to Nixon's grotesque involvement in a series of political scandals which nobody seems to mind? Would McGovern excoriate "permissive" judges knowing that his foreign allies were pumping into America the heroin that nurtures crime? Would McGovern sabotage his own welfare plan? Would McGovern manipulate false issues like American prisoners and busing until the country was tense with fear and hatred?

McGovern has made errors in judgment. But none of his mistakes can compare to the horrible and intentional errors of his opponent. The upcoming election presents clear moral alternatives. A vote for Richard Nixon will further the sweep of destruction outside and the creep of decay within. A vote for McGovern is a hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

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