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The Protest Vote


TOMORROW'S Massachusetts primary offers us another opportunity to express our disgust with the latest escalation of the war in Southeast Asia by giving an overwhelming majority to the two Democratic candidates genuinely committed to ending American military involvement there, Sen. George S. McGovern (D.S.D.) and Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D.N.Y.) alone in a generally uninspiring Democratic field, display a determination to change Nixon policy that is not believable and possible. They deserve the support of all those who are fed up with Vietnamization, protective reaction bombing, and anti-communist puppet regimes in Saigon.

Both McGovern and Chisholm present clear alternatives to current U.S. policy: withdrawal from Indochina and drastic reordering of spending priorities. McGovern advocates a #30 billion cut in defense spending as part of a massive dismantling of the military-industrial complex: Chisholm has vowed to vote "no" on every money bill that allocates funds for defense. Beyond this, both pledge to put the money saved on defence to other use. McGovern has proposed a radical new tax program, closing loopholes and imposing a heavy inheritance tax. which would add another $120 billion in revenue to put into vast government-sponsored programs in housing, mass transit and environmental cleanup. This would also allow for large increases in social security and a $1000 minimum annual income for everyone in the country Chisholm represents the communality of interests among block and white working classes and she sees civil rights legislation that is currently unenforced as part of a broader economic problem; her chief emphasis is on housing and feeding poor Americans of all races.

There is another reason why McGovern and Chisholm are so far preferable to other Democratic candidates, a reason which transcends campaign pledges to shift policy; either would bring to the White House the honesty that has been so lamentably absent for the past decade. Both McGovern and Chisholm base their campaign on grass roots support. They represent for once the little man, the poor, and the jobless; further, they are tolerant of the full spectrum of political opinion, McGovern has survived 20 years of politicking by relying on individual contact and individual support. He has been outspoken, and yet soft-spoken; Robert Kennedy once termed him the only decent man in the Senate, Chisholm, beyond her candidacy as the first black woman in Congress, prides herself on being "unbought and unbossed." She represents a figure whom young blacks, Puerto Ricans and other minorities can trust and whom corporations cannot touch. At the same time, she refuses to lend her name to racial or ethnic separatism, appealing instead to a broad base of white and minority support.

There are many ways to voice opposition to the Nixon Administration and its nightmarish insistence on following through the brutal undeclared war against the people of Vietnam. Those who believe in the supremacy of the electoral system still maintain that the polls represent the single most crucial influence on government policy. Perhaps, To be sure, a strong anti-Nixon vote in the primaries is one of the several ways to show opposition. But just as surely, a vote tomorrow for anyone other than McGovern or Chisholm is a vote for the Democratic establishment-which may be able to put a new face but not a new policy, in the White House. A Nixon-Muskie, Nixon-Jackson or, unbelievably, another Nixon-Humphrey ballot in November would offer no choice at all. Nixon said in 1968 that he would get the U.S. out of Vietnam .

* 20 million Americans believed him; Muskie and Humphrey say the same thing now, while giving appropriate attention to the Administration's domestic debacle, but they provide little reason to believe they will fulfill that promise. If you can't vote against Nixon and against the Democratic machine tomorrow, then don't vote at all. The choice is McGovern or Chisholm. It is an important way to show Nixon that he cannot get way with the murder of a people without facing massive protests at home in the United States.

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