November 17, 1970.
SENATOR MUSKIE'S ELECTION EVE ADDRESS REASSURING
HON. PETER N. KYROS OF MAINE IN THE HOUSE CF REPRESENTATIVES
Monday, November 16, 1970
Mr. KYROS. Mr. Speaker, each of us today returns to this body with memories of our own election campaigns, pleasant or otherwise. Many of these recollections are highly personal. Most of our fellow Americans were involved in election activities to a far lesser degree, however, and as November 3 approached there were several newspaper accounts of general voter apathy throughout the Nation.
Then, on the evening of November 2, millions of men and women throughout the land were inspired by words which needed to be said, and said well. From their television screens, a man spoke quietly, not with a stridency of an election-eve broadcast, but with a reassuring message for Americans of all political dispositions. He spoke of the promise of our Nation and of the sense of reason, and trust, which must remain our abiding political tradition. He spoke solemnly and frankly, as is his nature. Many of us were so very, very grateful that our own thoughts and beliefs were being so well expressed by so fine an individual.
That individual is Maine's own En MUSKIE, who returns to Washington with our State's trust in him newly reaffirmed. His speech and an editorial which appeared in the Portland Press Herald of November 4, 1970, follows:
[Editorial from the Portland Press Herald, Nov. 4, 1970]
MOMENT OF STATESMANSHIP
The degree to which Senator Edmund S. Muskie's election eve television address may have influenced the Nation's voters is only one of many campaign imponderables.
Whatever its affects may have been on the electorate, it struck us as one of the Senator's finest campaign quarter-hours.
There was nothing namby-pamby about the speech. The Senator laid it on the line. Perhaps the term "low-key" is simply incompatible with an address in which a political contender accuses the President of leading, inspiring, and guiding a campaign built on lies, slander, name-calling and "deception of almost unprecedented volume" Yet that was the manner of presentation and perhaps that, as much as the content of the remarks, made it particularly effective. Certainly it was in welcome contrast to the transparent, emotional cheer-leading in which the President has indulged for several days and which has become virtually a career for the Vice President.
It wasn't so much a speech as a living room conversation. It was a Franklin D. Roosevelt fireside chat with video added. Even in its fiercest allegation it was quiet and restrained in tone. It was a presentation constructed on reason and happily devoid of the passion that has been almost the sole content of so much of the oratory from the top rank Republicans.
As this was written, millions of Americans were marking ballots all across the country. The decision, in Maine and the Nation, was still in the future. Whatever the judgment would be, Senator Muskie had brought a moment of statesmanship to what had been a noisy but barren exercise in political superficiality.
REMARKS BY SENATOR EDMUND S. MUSKIE
I am speaking from Cape Elizabeth, Maine to discuss with you the election campaign which is coming to a close.
In the heat of our campaigns, we have all become accustomed to a little anger and exaggeration.
Yet – on the whole – our political process has served us well – presenting for your judgment a range of answers to the country's problems . . . and a choice between men who seek the honor of public service.
That is our system.
It has worked for almost two hundred years – longer than any other political system in the world.
And it still works.
But in these elections of 1970, something has gone wrong.
There has been name-calling and deception of almost unprecedented volume. Honorable men have been slandered. Faithful servants of the country have had their motives questioned and their patriotism doubted.
This attack is not simply the overzealousness of a few local leaders.
It has been led . . . inspired . . . and guided . . . from the highest offices in the land.
The danger from this assault is not that a few more Democrats might be defeated – the country can survive that.
The true danger is that the American people will have been deprived of that public debate – that opportunity for fair judgment – which is the heartbeat of the democratic process.
And that is something the country cannot afford.
Let me try to bring some clarity to this deliberate confusion.
Let me begin with these issues of law and order . . . of violence and unrest . . . which have pervaded the rhetoric of this campaign.
I believe that any person who violates the law should be apprehended . . . prosecuted . . . and punished, if found guilty.
So does every candidate for office of both parties.
And nearly all Americans agree.
I believe everyone has a right to feel secure . . . on the streets of his city . . . and in buildings where he works or studies.
So does every candidate for office, of both parties.
And nearly all Americans agree.
Therefore, there is no issue of law and order . . . or of violence.
There is only a problem.
There is no disagreement about what we want.
There are only different approaches to getting it.
And the harsh and uncomfortable fact is that no one – in either party – has the final answer.
For four years, a conservative Republican has been Governor of California.
Yet there is no more law and order in California today than when he took office. President Nixon – like President Johnson before him – has taken a firm stand.
A Democratic Congress has passed sweeping legislation.
Yet America is no more orderly or lawful – nor its streets more safe – than was the case two years ago . . . or four . . . or six. We must deal with symptoms – strive to prevent crime; halt violence; and punish the wrongdoer.
But we must also look for the deeper causes . . . in the structure of our society. If one of your loved ones is sick, you do not think it is soft or undisciplined of a doctor . . . to try and discover the agents of illness.
But you would soon discard a doctor . . . who thought it enough to stand by the bed and righteously curse the disease.
Yet, there are those who seek to turn our common distress to partisan advantage – not by offering better solutions – but with empty threat . . . and malicious slander.
They imply that Democratic candidates for high office in Texas and California . . . in Illinois and Tennessee . . . in Utah and Maryland . . . and among my New England neighbors from Vermont and Connecticut – men who have courageously pursued their convictions . . . in the service of the republic in war and in peace – that these men actually favor violence . . . and champion the wrongdoer.
That is a lie.
And the American people know it is a lie.
And what are we to think when men in positions of public trust openly declare that the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman which led us out of depression . . . and to victory over international barbarism;
The party of John Kennedy who was slain in the service of the country he inspired;
The party of Lyndon Johnson who withstood the fury of countless demonstrations in order to pursue a course he believed in;
The party of Robert Kennedy, murdered on the eve of his greatest triumphs–
How dare they tell us that this party is less devoted or less courageous . . . in maintaining American principles and values . . . than are they themselves.
This is nonsense.
And we all know it is nonsense.
And what contempt they must have for the decency and sense of the American people to talk to them that way – and to think they can make them believe.
There is not time tonight to analyze and expose the torrent of falsehood and insinuation which has flooded this unfortunate campaign.
There is a parallel – in the campaigns of the early fifties – when the turbulent difficulties of the post-war world were attributed to the softness and lack of patriotism of a few . . . including some of our most respected leaders . . . such as General George Marshall.
It was the same technique.
These attacks are dangerous in a more important sense – for they keep us from dealing with our problems.
Names and threats will not end the shame of ghettos and racial injustice . . . restore a degraded environment . . . or end a long and bloody war.
Slogans and television commercials will not bring the working man that assurance – of a constantly rising standard of life – which was his only a few years ago . . . and which has been cruelly snatched away.
No administration can be expected to solve the difficulties of America in two years.
But we can fairly ask two things: that a start be made – and that the nation be instilled with a sense of forward movement . . . of high purpose.
This has not been done.
Let us look, for example, at the effort to halt inflation.
We all agree that inflation must be arrested.
This administration has decided it could keep prices down by withdrawing money from the economy.
Now I do not think they will ever control inflation this way.
But even if their policy was sound, the money had to come from someone.
And who did they pick to pay?
It was the working man . . . the consumer . . . the middle class American.
For example, high interest rates are a part of this policy.
Yet they do not damage the banks which collect them.
They hardly touch the very wealthy who can deduct interest payments from their taxes.
Rather they strike at every consumer who must pay exorbitant charges on his new car or house.
And they can cripple the small businessman.
Their policy against inflation also requires that unemployment go up.
Again, it is the working man who pays the price.
In other fields the story is the same. They have cut back on health and education for the many . . . while expanding subsidies and special favors for a few.
They call upon you – the working majority of Americans – to support them while they oppose your interests.
They really believe that if they can make you afraid enough . . . or angry enough . . . you can be tricked into voting against yourself.
It is all part of the same contempt . . . and tomorrow you can show them the mistake they have made.
Our difficulties as a nation are immense, confused and changing.
But our history shows – and I think most of you suspect – that if we are ever to restore progress it will be under the leadership of the Democratic party.
Not that we are smarter or more expert – but we respect the people.
We believe in the people.
And indeed we must – for we are of the people.
Today the air of my native Maine was touched with winter . . . and hunters filled the woods.
I have spent my life in this State . . . which is both part of our oldest traditions and a place of wild and almost untouched forests.
It is rugged country, cold in the winters, but it is a good place to live.
There are friends . . . and there are also places to be alone – places where a man can walk all day . . . and fish . . . and see nothing but woods and water.
We in Maine share many of the problems of America and, I am sure, others are coming to us.
But we have had no riots or bombings and speakers are not kept from talking.
This is not because I am Senator or because the Governor is a Democrat.
Partly, of course, it is because we are a small State with no huge cities . . . but partly it is because the people here have a sense of place.
They are part of a community with common concerns and problems and hopes for the future.
We cannot make America small.
But we can work to restore a sense of shared purpose, and of great enterprise. We can bring back the belief – not only in a better and more noble future – but in our own power to make it so.
Our country is wounded and confused – but it is charged with greatness and with the possibility of greatness.
We cannot realize that possibility if we are afraid . . . or if we consume our energies in hostility and accusation.
We must maintain justice – but we must also believe in ourselves and each other – and we must get about the work of the future.
There are only two kinds of politics.
They are not radical and reactionary . . . or conservative and liberal. Or even Democrat and Republican. There are only the politics of fear and the politics of trust.
One says: You are encircled by monstrous dangers. Give us power over your freedom so we may protect you.
The other says: The world is a baffling and hazardous place, but it can be shaped to the will of men.
Ordinarily that division is not between parties, but between men and ideas.
But this year the leaders of the Republican party have intentionally made that line a party line.
They have confronted you with exactly that choice.
Thus – in voting for the Democratic party tomorrow – you cast your vote for trust – not just in leaders or policies – but for trusting your fellow citizens . . . in the ancient traditions of this home for freedom . . . and most of all, for trust in yourself.