(With the death of the two candidates discussed in this article, there is no longer, if there was ever, adequate reason to not reveal that they were Robert E. Merriam and Richard J. Daley [Mayor, 1955-1976]. The city called Metropolis is Chicago. The original anonymity was intended to present an abstract, impersonal, scientific account as an experiment in Political Science. Professor Lindsay Rogers of Columbia University, epitome of the journalist as political scientist, wrote with praise but in a kindly protest against hiding the names. The vivid analysis of a Chicago boss-days campaign employs the advanced techniques of the Chicago School of Political Science. Notable, too, is the early description of how racism excites its counterpart in the stubborn refusal of many blacks to assist whites in the punishment of one of their race, no matter how culpable even in respect to his own people. The O.J.Simpson murder case, coming decades later, surprised most people, with its acquittal of this defendant. His largely black jury was moved by the same inverted racism of the Chicago black electorate. Actually, white liberal consultants, so Dr. Ithiel Poole, Editor in charge of this POQ issue, informed Alfred de Grazia that there was opposition to printing his article, worrying that it might be thought to be anti-black, which it certainly was not. We note also the demonstration in this article of the beginnings of the white-black split that later broke down the New Deal majority over the nation.)
In 1955 one of Americas largest cities [Chicago] elected its Mayor. The Democratic Party had won all elections held in the Metropolis since 1931, but unusual interest was accorded the present election because one candidate (here called R [Robert E. Merriam]) had been elected to two terms on the city council as a non-partisan Democrat with considerable Republican support and had now announced he was a Republican in order to receive the support of that party; it was concededly hopeless to run as an independent in Metropolis.
R expected to gain from internal strife among the Democrats, because the Central Committee of the Democratic Party had rejected the incumbent Mayor Kennelly for re-nomination and had chosen instead their Chairman, who had previously held high administrative, elective and party office. The organizations candidate, D [Richard J. Daley] triumphed easily over the rejected Mayor and a third candidate, C, in the primary election.
Rs vigorous campaigning and his formula for victory failed to win the final election; he garnered 45.1 per cent of 1,289,777 votes cast for the office of Mayor. Considering that the city as a whole has been changing its social composition for many years, a comparison with past returns can be deceiving. R did better than any Republican mayoral candidate since 1943 (four elections past), though Republican potential strength in Metropolis was probably considerably greater in 1943 than in 1955. The Republican county ticket five months before had gone down to defeat by a resounding 400,000 votes, and it must be considered that a considerable source of Republican strength lies in the county suburbs outside of Metropolis, which were not voting in this election. Mr. D had himself achieved a plurality of about 390,000 votes in the race for County Clerk in 1954. Hence, generally speaking, Rs campaign, by any index other than victory, was a striking success.
* Associate Professor of Political Science and Research Associate in Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University. The data for this article come mainly from participant observation and survey materials. The major source of factual data bearing on peoples opinions was survey statistics in the files of the Survey Division of Science Research Associates, which conducted a series of pre-election surveys for a private client who granted permission for full release of the survey findings.
I would like to express my appreciation to Leo Shapiro, Director of the Survey Division for organizing and making available the survey data. In doing so, SRA wished me to be quite explicit about distinguishing between statistical measures of opinion and the meanings that those measures might have. The author takes full responsibility for the interpretations that have been put upon the data and for the manner in which facts from a series of surveys done for one purpose have been treated in a different light. The author was enabled to complete this study by a grant-in-aid from the Earhart Foundation.
That the Democratic Party did not lose Metropolis is largely due to the support given it and its candidate, D, by the Negro population of the city. Probably about one out of five Metropolitans of voting age is a Negro. Ten wards can be considered as from 50 per cent to 100 per cent Negro in composition; another eleven wards are composed from 14 per cent to 45 per cent of Negro residents.1 In the general city election of 1955, the ten wards of heaviest Negro residence gave a plurality of 102,725 to D. The eleven wards of partial Negro residence added a plurality of 43,119. These add up to 145,844 votes, or considerably in excess of the 126,667 plurality that D won in the city as a whole.
In Metropolis, the circumstances of the 700,000 Negroes invite a collective identification. Their life is impersonal and highly urbanized; hence power is valued highly both as an instrument and as a good in itself. Impersonality turns the drive for collective status toward a remote, intangible, and unrelated prestige, signs of which are accepted for facts; a strong negative and destructive element is engendered. Their socio-economic status is disproportionately that of the uncertain wage-earner or tip-earner in unskilled manual and service occupations. The service worker, especially, is likely to have a high respect for power; the poor often are also preoccupied with the material needs of the moment, and short-term material objectives take easy precedence over long-term ones; low socio-economic status also intensifies the demand for a group status and frames it in terms that do not conform to the code of high status, attitudes, and behavior. The discrimination against Negroes because of their color is reflected again in evaluation of power as a value, in an indifference to a code of property rights that are opposed to human rights (as in housing segregation), and finally, obviously, in a strong desire to achieve the dignity of which discrimination is the most blatant refusal.
As the study develops, we shall have occasion to demonstrate how these several characteristic drives shaped the campaign.
Our analysis thus far suggests that R was successful as a leader short of winning the election and that his lack of success was most directly attributable to his low success in building a vote among the Negro people. That is, he was not successful as leader of the Negro voters.
1These estimates of Negro residence in 1955 come from a Metropolitan Republican Party leader; they are considered by a prominent Democratic ward and precinct leader and the author to be essentially valid. Tabulation of the voting data for these wards, and a map of the vote by wards, may be obtained by writing the author.
Hence, the proper question is: what kind of leadership can achieve maximum impact under the circumstances of the population in question? A candidate has four general possibilities: he can be a charismatic leader who speaks over the heads of the sub-elite directly to the people of the sub-population; he can be a boss or chieftain of the sub-group who moves out and achieves larger leadership in the community; he can be chairman of a committee of local chiefs and rely upon a mutual accord and assurances of autonomy and support to get the votes of separately controlled sub-groups; or he can be a rational manager promising a technically superior administrative system and long-range advantages to all groups in proportion to their needs. Candidate R was principally of the managerial type and lost the election because of it; Candidate D was mainly of the head-chief type and won the election because of it.
The decisions and behavior of D and R during the campaign will evidence the accuracy of this categorization, but it is in order here to give certain facts from their background that indicate the placement of D and Rs characters as well.
D was called a machine-tooled candidate at one point in the campaign and, putting aside its evaluative connotations, a more apt description would be difficult to coin. He worked at unskilled tasks as a youth, studied law in a bread-and-butter law school, entered politics early in a machine ward, was of Irish extraction, the Catholic religion, the father of seven children, held local and state patronage office, conducted a legal practice that had political overtones, was faithful to his friends and neighborhood, rose to ward committeeman, felt the breath of scandal near him but was never touched by it himself, was elected county Clerk, and became chairman of the County Central Committee. A poor speaker, of simple and dogmatic appearance, short and stocky, he did not address groups unless pressed to do so. His liberalism expressed itself in time-tested generalities and in abstention from affronting the numerous groups in America who are sometimes insulted or denigrated. He lived modestly. His own ward contained one of three segregated public housing projects; he never referred to it in public discourse. He had helped underworld characters at least once to fairly high office under him. He had perhaps a dozen relatives on city and country payrolls. He was never one to cast aspersions upon the characters of any of the numerous Democratic ward leaders who had been in an out of one imbroglio after another. Prior to his nomination, his position among the top Democratic leaders had become that of the British Prime Minister, Primus inter pares. He was the only one of them without qualities that would prevent elegibility.
The background of his opponent was not so clearly defined, principally because R had several traits that tended towards establishing a charismatic relationship with his followers. One was Rs record of independence of the party organization that went back to his first election to office eight years before, when he was elected by a coalition of academic and liberal independents and the regular Democratic organization in one of the wards. In the years that followed, R became quite independent of the regular organization and was a maverick on the city council. Secondly, he had played a strong role in the exposure of criminal activities in the politics and government of the city, and had displayed great courage in opposing the oligarchy of the City Hall.
On race relations, R had a complete and unambiguous record of friendship and sympathy with the social and economic aspirations of Negroes. His associations, both early and late, included citizens of both races. He had, while in the Council, supported an ordinance to prohibit segregation in publicly financed housing. He helped put a clause prohibiting racial discrimination into a franchise to the electric company. He voted for an ordinance that prohibited literature that would lead to violence against members of minority groups. He was vehement in his support of housing, police, sanitation, and educational measures that benefited the Negro areas of the city. He goaded the mayor and the police on at least one occasion when a Negro family was threatened with violence for moving into a white neighborhood. With the exception of the last incident and perhaps several others, his work in race relations was conducted without personal agitation among Negroes and in symbols of abstract liberty and justice.
It must be concluded that the weight of Rs record rested on his administrative training and interests, which contradicted and reduced the emotional appeal of his personality. Partly because he was young and required conventional justifications of his claims to office, his background had been pictured as that of a well-trained young executive. Moreover, a good part of his publicity as alderman had come in connection with his attempts to prune the budgets of the city and to eliminate waste and spoils. He was referred to often as the leader of the economy bloc. (And, as Max Weber pointed out some time ago, charisma is specifically foreign to economics.) He was well-educated; of a well-known academic family; he spoke well but not emotionally; he dressed well; he had three children and a large Irish setter. Given the two types of leaders and the social-psychological condition of the Negro minority, the campaign evolved with the fatefulness and logic of a Greek tragedy.
A survey of a sample Metropolitans at E-day minus five months asked respondents what changes were needed in Metropolis, what kind of a man was needed as mayor, and then specifically to name some such man who might come to mind.2 Only 27 per cent of the sample could or would name such a man; the list was as follows:
With the aid of a card containing the names of other men in public life some respondents added choices, and D, whose name was on the card, entered the tabulations. Now 51 per cent of the sample (but only 24 per cent of the Negroes) recorded their thoughts about a good man for mayor.
|All-city suggestions |
(in some cases, more than one)
| Negro suggestions |
(in some cases, more than one)
R was doing well, and D poorly. However, when asked for whom they would vote if they were to vote now, the Negro respondents chose the incumbent mayor B:
Thus, both B and R were much stronger among the general population and among Negro voters than D who began to pick up strength when he was introduced as a possibility. The thought of an election mobilizes the power of office and gives the incumbent a long lead over his opposition. It was also noticeable in this survey that Negroes were less sure of casting a vote at the coming elections five months away than the population as a whole.
2the four surveys discussed here and below were based on cross-section probability samples of Metropolis citizens. The number of respondents in the four surveys were 324, 672, 335, and 412.
Between the times of the first and second survey, B was dumped by the Central committee of the Democratic Party, which declared itself for D. The second survey was conducted in two waves during the month of E-day minus three months. From it, several inter-connected discoveries were made.
Relatively fewer Negroes reported themselves independent of party feelings compared with the total population. Furthermore, Negroes were much more Democratic than the population as a whole.
|Party preference or leaning||All-City||Negroes|
A larger proportion of Negroes than of the general population believed that the candidates were controlled by the political machine.
|Who? All are||15||27|
A smaller proportion of Negroes than of the population as a whole claimed to have paid attention to the coming election and intended to vote.
|Paid much attention||43%||38%|
|Express no doubt about going to vote||78||70|
B was running strong among both whites and Negroes, while D and R were displaying moderate and equal strength in the whole population. However, D was definitely stronger among Negroes than R.
If the election for mayor were today, which one of these four men would you vote for?
|NA and other||22||27|
A third survey was made following the primary and about a month before the final election. The ultimate pattern of the vote was emerging. For the first time in the campaign, the proportion of Negroes reporting that they paid much attention to the campaign equalled that of the total population. Both groups registered 62 per cent interested.
In response to the question, What does the election for mayor mean to you? Does it make any difference to you personally?-Negroes were less likely to speak about the welfare of Metropolis in general and more inclined to talk about the welfare of their own people.
|Responses||(100 per cent)||(100 per cent)|
|No difference to me||35||37|
|Its all politics||35||37|
|Dont know anything about the election||6||5|
|Welfare of Metropolis||33||20|
|Hope own candidate wins||7||12|
|Affects my job, opportunity for employment||2||3|
|Welfare and benefit for my people||4||14|
|No. answer. Blank.||3||5|
Among those who declared how they would vote in the final election, D now led R by a ratio of 54 per cent to 46 per cent, the exact proportion on election day. Among Negroes, D led by a 3 to 1 margin; R had a slight lead among white voters: 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
The importance of party preference in deciding the fate of the candidates was made plain by another question: Supporters of D were asked If R were running on the Democratic ticket, would you vote for R? Supporters of R were asked the same about D. When the answers of all persons with a preference were combined, the result was as follows:
|For R as a Democrat||68||57|
|For D as a Republican||32||43|
Thus, if R were running as a Democrat he might have won by a 3 to 1 vote. Among Negroes, if R had been a Democrat and D a republican, R would have won by a smaller margin, mainly because Negroes were not so apt as whites to answer the hypothetical question. Parenthetically, it is probable that the Negroes would have swung even more forcibly towards R as a Democrat and that his victory would have been overwhelming.
All Negroes who reported a vote for B in the primary now said they intended to vote for D; in the total population, persons who voted for B in the primary now split equally into those who planned to vote for D and those who intended to vote for R.
A fourth survey after the election inquired into the reasons why people did or did not vote in the election, whether they were contacted by precinct workers during the campaign, whether they recall having seen the candidates on television, and how they felt when they received the news of Ds victory.3 Their responses, insofar as they point to differences between Negro citizens and the whole population, may be reported here.
Relatively more Negroes than whites saw voting as a function for their people rather than for the general welfare of the community. Relatively fewer Negroes reported lack of interest as the reason for not voting and more said they did not vote because they were not registered. .
Question: Could you summarize--in own words-how it happened that you voted or did not vote in the most recent election for mayor?
|Respondents who answered:||voters**||voters***|
|Duty, privilege to vote||40||40|
|Because of a man I wanted or did not want||11||11|
|Habit, always vote||9||7|
|To improve city, country, world (not expressed as a civic responsibility)||6||7|
|To protect, guard, insure welfare of the community||17||7|
|Vote to achieve a specific goal||6||11|
|I was influenced to vote||6||7|
|Other reasons for voting||5||9|
|* * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * ** * *|
|Wasnt interested in this specific election||27||26|
|Was not registered (but would have been eligible)||10||23|
|Other reasons for not voting||2||10|
**Multiple answers were tabulated.
Relatively more Negroes than the population in general reported having been called upon by a precinct captain: 61 as against 53 per cent. Relatively fewer Negroes than whites claimed they saw the candidates on TV: 54 as against 69 per cent.
During the same fourth survey, respondents were asked to tell about the election that they recalled most vividly in their lifetimes. Among Negroes,
3I would like to thank the Department of Political Science of the University of Chicago for having made available to me the full findings of a post-election study entitled Some Aspects of Voting and Non-Voting in the Mayoral Election, April 5, 1955," which was conducted for the University by the Survey Division of Science Research Associates. The survey was entirely separate and distinct from the pre-election surveys as to purpose and client. issues and conditions were less frequently mentioned as reasons why the election stood out in their minds. Party considerations (they wanted or didnt want a party) were more important among Negroes. Also, in discussing the candidate himself, relatively more Negroes talked about him in terms of his personal leadership and father-like qualities. The level of political activity among Negroes, during the campaign that excited them most, was not lower than among whites.
Question: why was this election important to you? (Each respondents total response to this question was evaluated to determine the basic meaning of the election to him)
|Respondents who answered:||All-City||Negroes|
|a. Because of a man whom I wanted:|
|Leader, father, provider image (what he would do, would give us)||19||27|
|Character or competence, honest, man for the job, experienced||6||6|
|whom I did not want:||5||1|
|b. Because of issues, conditions (no mention of a man)||17||8|
|c. Because of Party||10||19|
|Because of Myself (e.g., my first election, meant my job)||14||6|
|Activity in Most Vivid Campaign||All-City||Negroes||All City Voters||Negro Voters|
|Did not vote||11||17||-||-|
It was remarked earlier that a group with the stated characteristics would possess a strong regard for manipulative power, would prefer immediate to long-term material interests, and would have a powerful but anarchic collective status drive. Some political ramifications of these drives have just been demonstrated by the use of survey materials: an initial reservoir of good will for R was soon dissipated when it appeared that R would not be representing the machine. A high initial regard for B was discarded when B was dumped by the machine. The groups interest in politics first lagged and then equalled that of the whole population, showing a more machined response. The group attended less to campaign material on TV. Precinct captains were more active among the group. The group believed more strongly that the candidates were controlled by a political machine. Members of the group who had voted for B in the primary elections switched entirely to D. The election was viewed more in terms of supplying immediate needs of the group. Party attachment was much stronger. Attitudes to politics included, on the one hand a stronger attention to parties and candidates than to issues, when compared with the whole population, but a smaller personal involvement (though not a smaller personal, material interest) in political life.
If a continuous collective identification of a minority is operative through an election campaign, it must be expected to take on added intensity on election day. Conscious and unconscious affinities are brought to a sharper focus by the social act of voting. The survey materials do not extend to this point in the analysis and participant observation must be relied on.
In the vast majority of Negro precincts of Metropolis, election day is an all-Negro event. Precinct captains, poll watchers, election judges and clerks, most visiting party leaders, many policemen, and nearly all voters are Negro. One of the greatest formal institutions of the society is, therefore, fully representative, in a very important respect, of its clientele. Whatever racial message is immanent in the election will be sharpened and amplified.
Following a theory popular among opponents of political machines and writers of textbooks, a large number of votes may have been bribed, stolen, or overtly intimidated. The theory should be revised. The amount of bribery and other corruption that occurs in machine areas is exaggerated. The population is set to vote for the machine well before the election. Even in . .. . .. per precinct, the desires of the voters, whether or not they had received anything of value for voting.
If the probable fraudulent vote of 2 to 4 per precinct were extended throughout the suspected areas of the city, it would amount to about 25,000 votes. Should a veritable army of neutral police or independent-Republican watchers have been introduced, it might decrease the Democratic vote by more than three or four in a hundred, but the decrease would occur because a new and fearful environment, hostile to the natural environment, was being established at the polls.
Unquestionably the machine brings out many favorable voters on election day, and discourages unfriendly voters. Without its efforts, apathy and lethargy would overcome many favorable supporters. Hence, it would appear that, should one wish to do so, the power of the organization to produce votes can be reduced by undercutting its leaders rather than by guaranteeing its followers a free vote. Removing favors, jobs, and rake-offs from the list of incentives for precinct captains is the surest way of depressing their morale, decreasing their efforts, and cutting down the participation of the machines sympathizers.
It has been noted that one type of leader who can command allegiance among a minority group is one who has himself come from the group and uses the group as a base of operations. Neither of the two principal candidates could claim such leadership among the Negro minority. The only Negro who could aspire to such a role was not a candidate but supported D; this Mr. X dominated the leadership of five Negro or partially Negro wards; he was actually moving out in an informal way as the second most powerful Democratic politicians in the city. Attacks directed against him by the press and opposing politicians seemed to strengthen his position with the Negro political workers and electorate; there were evidences that he was, indeed, a power in the total community, the only Negro of whom this might be said.
Attempts were made by R to contest the extension of this leaders power by proposing alternative leaders. For instance, one of Rs closest advisers was a Negro minister, lawyer and politician who had achieved some national fame. Yet the substitution failed completely; in the first place, Rs friend was defeated as alderman in the primary election by the Negro boss choice, and secondly, he lacked the sources of local power afforded by criminal and favor-exchanging circles; he was, finally, far removed in his color, education, habits, and beliefs from the mass of the Negro population.
A second type of external leadership is the chairmanship of a coalition of autonomous chiefs. This was Ds role vis vis the Negroes, whose most powerful leader was the second-strongest person in the coalition. The task of a coalition chairman is to see that no one rocks the boat and to exact from each group only the minimum concessions required to keep unaffiliated members of the public satisfied with the rule of the coalition. (It was Bs failure to perform this role well over a period of 8 years that had caused the electoral defections of the Negro wards in 1951 and the rejection of Bs candidacy by X in late 1954.)
The strategy of Ds campaign was simply not to have a public campaign. The organization, well-staffed by office-holders, business and racket beneficiaries, and dependents upon its charity, could easily conquer the independent - Republican forces of R. As R, aided and abetted by three of the four daily newspapers, laid down a barrage of charges, the tactics of D were reluctantly altered to allow some public expression of the coalitions ideals and program. The theme of D was that Metropolitans of all races should unite under the Democratic banner for a better city; the opposition was attacked for smearing a great city and leading people to believe it was full of criminals.
The influence and participation of the outstanding Negro leader in party decisions and governmental policies were never mentioned in the public pronouncements of D; the strong support of Negroes was never boasted. So far had the formal meaning of a public election campaign departed from its informal meaning, that a candidates principal mass support could not be praised in public.
A third type of leadership that might be calculated to appeal to the Negroes was honest, skillful management of the office of Mayor. D and his supporters from time to time recapitulated those facets of his career that would establish his managerial effectiveness. It was their natural avenue of appeal when they had to turn from operating the coalition to justifying Ds appeal to the free-floating public; thus when the national leader of the Democratic Party addressed a highly publicized banquet in honor of D, he stressed the honest managerial capacities of D and twitted Rs pretensions. Also, when the only daily newspaper to support D pronounced its choice, it emphasized the managerial competences of D and attacked strongly the administrative record of R.
For R, establishment of his superiority as a manager was the paramount substantive appeal. Day after day, press releases from his headquarters set forth constructive proposals; for example, consolidation of overlapping districts, removal of politics from the school system, passage of a school bond referendum, reorganization of the police department, improvement of the civil service, better purchasing procedures, new housing programs, better building inspection, and decentralization of governmental functions. By contrast, D only rarely urged such measures. A specific program was not part of his campaign strategy.
At one point, Rs appeals on behalf of effective management flowed over into areas where a kind of charismatic leadership might be established. This was in the field of crime. For several years, R had been attacking the administration of the police department in the city and urging action to destroy connections between politicians and criminals. It was accepted by Metropolitans of all walks of life that there were many such links. Consequently, R was widely applauded as a crime-buster.
Now the essential socio-economic correlates of crime are well known; the Negro areas of Metropolis have high criminal rates. Gambling, especially by policy wheels, is epidemic. The social structure of the Negro areas is permeated by many functional roles directly and indirectly stemming from illicit activities. It is no exaggeration to say that a good part of all internal vertical mobility occurring in those areas is attributable to such activities, and to say that a large part of all accepted indicators, of status that protrude into the external world have their roots in lawlessness. With lawful freedom of opportunity largely denied, unlawful freedom of opportunity increases. In its only editorial on the election, Metropolis Tribune, the Negro daily, declared the greatest Metropolitan crime is not the misdeeds of mobsters, gangsters, policy men, and petty thieves (which can and do take place in any community) but the un-American crime of discrimination which keeps the Negro in the lowest economic brackets and with the poorest living conditions.
How might candidate R scale this wall of distrust against reformers? He was not the leader of a coalition that might take to itself an influential Negro-led bloc. At the very beginning of the campaign he had renounced the support by the West Side Bloc of bi-partisan Republican politicians-both white and Negro-who controlled some votes in several heavily Negro wards. Neither in the South-side Negro wards nor in the West-side Negro wards was there any broadly influential political leadership outside of the crime-connected elements.
The appeal of a well-managed city and a positive long-term program was well-suited to winning votes in the larger population-especially because of obvious weaknesses in the personality, associations and anti-B actions of his opponent. However, the Negro people could hardly respond to such remote, trickle-down principles of government. The sample surveys revealed that Rs poor situation among the Negro voters, far from improving as the campaign developed, was unchanged or even deteriorating.
In several speeches to Negroes, R, after describing his record of actions on behalf of Negroes, promised to appoint Negroes to high places within his administration. But such sporadic gestures of amity could not prevail against the strong pro-organization sentiment; they were, indeed, subject to attack as being contrived. Communications between R and the Negro population had broken down. The Democratic captains were increasingly busy on their rounds of the precincts, often assisted by Republican captains and workers. The television programs of R, though technically competent, were not being watched by as many as were supposed to be viewing them. Revelations of fraudulent election practices had little effect upon either white or Negro voters. The field workers of the independent organization of R were few and without broad influence in the areas where they worked.
R and his advisers were gravely concerned about the problem and worked incessantly at solving it, even though they had to realize that no Republican had won a large Negro vote since Franklin Roosevelt led the Negroes out of the Republican Party. Several schools of thought vied for approval. One, represented particularly by Democratic liberals in Rs camp, insisted from the beginning of the campaign that Mr. X, the Negro boss, should not be singled out as a target for fear that he would be martyred by many Negroes who would then become even more tightly-knit in opposition to R. That Mr. X perceived how the racial issue might provide him with political camouflage is proved by such statements as Theyre trying to make me the whipping boy for political purposes. Theyve forced us to live here and they take advantage of us and in spite of this the Negro has prospered.
A second school of thought, represented especially by old-line Republican politicans, insisted that an all-out assault should be launched against Mr. X, not only because that was the truth of the matter but also because the fears of racial aggression by the Negro would energize many white voters who were apathetic towards Rs managerial program for the city. These advisers felt that Rs cause among the Negroes was lost; he could not earn any votes or lose any votes among them any more. Therefore, he must make a maximum appeal for white votes. A third school of thought, composed to volunteers of both liberal and conservative persuasion, assumed a non-instrumental and absolute ethical position, asserting that no political condition justified any assault upon any minority of the people.
It should not be assumed that these proposals were dogmatically and unequivocally offered. Most persons of the three schools sympathized with the logic of the alternative proposals. No one irresponsibly sought to high light the racial conflict. The record of a dozen hours of discussion of the correct policy with all its makers confirms this.
The emotional involvement of the candidate and his advisers in this issue was more intense than in any other issue of the campaign. Anxieties increased as intelligence clarified the issue; to survey materials known to only several persons besides the candidate were added the kind of evidence upon which politicians usually rely: growing irritability and reticence among the Negro staff members, alarming reports from Negro and white workers concerned with field operations in the Negro areas; and the slow dawning of the full meaning of facts that were available at the very beginning, such as the large size of the Negro vote.
The advisory group had to concede that one part of the R campaign was trapped. The expos of criminal-political ties led directly to the Negro boss and other Negro politicians, among others; any attack on Negro leaders would be considered by many Negroes and white liberals as an attack upon the Negro people; any such attack would recruit support from the very elements of the white population whom R had vigorously fought in years gone by. Yet any route to the Negro voters was apparently hopeless; hence the vote in the white wards had to be more intensively sought.
A final decision was made that combined the several ways of thought. The name of the Negro boss was to be introduced specifically into the campaign; the factual dangers of the spread of crime and vice throughout the city from their sources in boss-ridden wards was to be exposed; the failure of the bosses to provide for their own people was to stressed; protection against the crimes and blight of the Negro areas was to be assured both the inhabitants of the area and the outside white areas.
No one was completely happy; to those who felt it necessary to raise a clear racial issue, the new formula was not only too late but said too little; indeed, an exponent of this idea was so afraid that even this new message would not be publicly delivered that, before a major speech of R, he inserted the formula in its strongest form into the preliminary speech of a Republican Negro. To the Democrats and humanitarians advising R, the formula was too close to an attack upon Negroes in general-however explicit and guarded its language-and at least to some of the same people, the attacks on Negro leaders would solidify sentiment for them among the many Negro voters.
The chief result of the changed policy was that X was named and attacked more frequently. To communicate the strengthened formula to the Negro electorate was a task of months, not days-of hundreds of workers, not a few. R had too late a start in his candidacy and inherited too weak an organization to deliver this message to the voter. In the white areas the message was too rationalistic. Its success, too, required rare charismatic leadership. Such leadership could be of two kinds. One kind would strip the formula down to a demagogic appeal to the white electorate; it would excite racial fears and hatreds. The tactics of candidate B in the primary election verged upon this, but B himself could not play the demagogue and he lacked the rank and file to spread the doctrine. Candidate R was incapable of such behavior and implacably opposed to it.
A second kind of charismatic leadership would appeal directly, not to the white electorate, but to the Negro electorate. It would challenge openly the incumbent Negro leadership within the group itself, offering an immediate, personal, assured, and permanent alternative to coalition politics. Candidate R sensed the need for this kind of leadership; his admiration for Fiorello La Guardia stemmed partly from his appreciation that La Guardia, by sheer force of personality, could directly address the minorities of New York without the aid of a machine. He could remember how La Guardia might upbraid a man of any race, nationality, religion, or profession without engendering resentment among a group to which his target belonged, and how La Guardias personality was carried to the mass of voters on the lips of politically inactive people who, sometimes unconsciously, served him better than any organization could.
However, R, though as unconventional and flexible in thought and belief as La Guardia, did not get through to people in the same way. His family and educational training, and his military and administrative experience were better calculated to restrain and reduce his agitational instincts than to enhance them. His occasional impulse to agitate directly was subverted by the numerous substitutes for such agitation that public relations and publicity men provide. Gimmicks and promotional stunts, ably engineered by a professional staff, help sublimate the need of the agitator for direct, immediate affection and applause; the techniques have polished rationalizations-protecting a candidate from embarrassment and ridicule, fixing his appeal among politically sterilized and bureaucratic community leaders in public and private circles.
Beyond these reasons why the campaign could not be more effectively directed were considerations of time and personnel. Rs campaign was relatively well-managed, which is to say that it was less chaotic than most campaigns; yet to elaborate a new approach, educate the staff and organization to it, and carry it out in myriad detail in the eye of a political cyclone is impossible.
It must be concluded that the circumstances and the leader, in a way at once marvelous and scientifically calculable, seemed to forebode a great change, but in fact were demonstrating its improbability. The future, of course, does not mirror perfectly the past. On another day, both the circumstances and the leader, even without change of place or person, might admit of enough flexibility to reverse the outcome.
|Heavily Negro Wards||Est.% of precincts of 75% or more Negro residence of all precincts||Registration||% voted||voted for R||%R||voted for D||%D||% Gain in Dem. vote 1951-1955 (D%-B% 1951)|
|Heavily Negro Wards||Est.% of precincts of 75% or more Negro residence of all precincts||Registration||% voted||voted for R||%R||voted for D||%D||% Gain in Dem. vote 1951-1955 (D%-B% 1951)|