By W. J. Igoe
"THE world," obser v e d O'Casey's alcoholic layabout, "is in a state of chassis" Taking a sober look at the place President Lyndon B. Johnson may agree.
Mr. Johnson has triumphed: and the world, outside the Old Confederacy, is glad of it. Even more important, by the massive support it gave him the American electorate, after a long hot summer of race riots and disorder which might well have prejudiced the naive, showed a moral strength that is reassuring.
To the student of U.S. politics sound evidence of Mr. John
son's wisdom was his decision to
ask for the nomination of Mr. Hubert Humphrey as Vice
Presidential candidate. No other man is so well fitted for the position as Mr. Humphrey.
He brings to government a spirit of candour and generosity which is needed in a world dying of peurile cynicism, the
spirit that can restore faith among the young and the bored (with politicians) that endeavour and self-sacrifice are worthwhile.
Never have two men of such extensive experience of the crafts of government been elected to the highest offices in the United States. But the President faces a testing period of world political flux. It is high noon over the White House for America as leader of the West.
At home. the issues are relatively simple, in a moral sense, and Mr. Barry Goldwater, with characteristic aplomb, set them out in all their simplicity. At times he suggested a character from Zane Grey (The Man from Arizona) who had absentmindedly galloped into the Faulkner country.
Mr. Goldwater compelled the American voter to see things clearly and decide as to which is more important, state rights or human rights. The Old Confederacy abuse states rights by treating Negroes as a different species from the dominant whites, within the five Deep South States Negroes are a source of cheap labour left over from the days of traffic in human bodies, to he insulted and denied education, condemned to menial tasks, denied the right to vote and normal social intercourse with the rest of the community.
Some years ago Catholics in Louisiana, to their enduring shame, complained to Pope Pius XII because Archbishop Rummel of New Orleans insisted upon treating Negro children as human beings.
The American bishops have consistently and repeatedly clarified the racial issue so far as the Church is concerned. They have condemned race domination It is heartening to note that U.S. Catholics voted strongly in support of President Johnson and by so doing, among other things, quietly snubbed the few, bellicose and well-poisoning Catholics of the extreme right who were represented by the ineffable Mr. William Miller, Mr. Goldwater's running-mate.
It does not seem to have occurred to these zealots that by giving totalitarian support to state rights the Senator from Arizona placed himself, in effect, rather close to the position of the Communists who keep them awake at nights.
The other issue placed before the American people was state insurance for old people and for the unemployed. Mr. Goldwater's casual dismissal of "social security" revealed an almost pathological ignorance of conditions for those who depend upon the value of their
labour in a vast economic machine in which production and markets interlock and are mutually dependent.
In such art economy an insurance system that protects working people from market fluctuations and dislocations, as Pope Pius XI indicated some twenty-five years ago, is mendal, and for two reasons.
The first of these was indicated by the Pope: it is the humane thing to do and for Christians it is a duty in justice and charity.
The second reason might appeal to extremists of the right were it not that their folly is suicidal: without social security in a Capitalist economy a big and rebellious proletariat is inevitably created and consequently the first step is taken toward a dictatorship of the right or left. in practice the difference between these;titernatives is the difference between Stalinism and Hitlerism; as such it is largely academic to those on the receiving end.
President Johnson has made it clear that he will follow President Kennedy's aim to legislate state medical insurance for, at least, the old. Conditions for the poor and sick in the United States are. to a European, inhumane. Private insurance is good but inadequate: sick old people frequently exhaust the benefits due to them and become pauperised when their need is greatest.
To such people the parrot-cry of "independence" from the millionaire Barry Goldwater was, at best, insulting nonsense.
In voting for Mr. Johnson the American voter revealed a degree of political maturity that made the Republican candidate by contrast seem as if he were a visitor to the U.S. from some remote and alien, political limbo.
President Johnson's belief that America can eliminate destitution within her own frontiers is
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