Presidential Campaign and Candidates

 

Sam Yorty 1972

November 16, 1971

 

STATEMENT BY LOS ANGELES MAYOR SAM YORTY ON HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR THE PRESIDENCY

Encouraged by the advice of many friends and supporters, I have decided to become a candidate for President. Our campaign is already well underway in New Hampshire.

We have no intention of trying to raise the huge sums of money necessary to enter all of the primaries. We will be selective. The California primary will climax our campaign. Other states may be added as the campaign progresses.

I have no illusions concerning the magnitude of this undertaking or the difficulties involved, but borrowing a line from the old hymn, “Lead kindly Light,“ let me say -- “I do not ask to see the distant scene – one step is enough for me.“ The first step is New Hampshire. After that, we shall see.

My position on issues will be that of a moderate Democrat -- a position I hope will appeal not only to a majority of Democrats but also to many Republicans who are disillusioned with the current resort to sheer political expediency by the Nixon administration in its effort to win re-election at all costs or by any means in 1972. Prior Nixon promises, positions or commitments, seem to mean nothing as 1972 approaches. I am sorry to see this. I do not like to see any President fail because when a President fails the nation suffers.

I have tried to help the President when I thought he was right, as, for instance, the seizure of Communist supplies in Cambodia. All of the other announced and unannounced Democratic candidates opposed this action. I advocated it. I think it was a major factor in making our withdrawals less hazardous to our Allies in Southeast Asia.

On another occasion, I tried to explain to our people President Thieu’s purpose in pushing election laws to limit the number of candidates seeking the presidency. All of the other Democratic contenders castigated him as if he were an enemy.

I would never have voted to help the Communist enemy by telling in advance what we would not do. The Cooper-Church Amendment did just that, yet all of the other Democratic candidates voted for it. In fact, if I had been President, I would have strongly resisted it and taken my case directly to the American people and asked their support. Instead, President Nixon caved in and of meekly sign the bill to which it had been added.

Lack of American Air liaison officers on the ground in the Laos operation increased South Vietnamese casualties 20%, according to expert opinion. So Cooper-Church and those who supported it not only sentenced many young South Vietnamese to their deaths, but also jeopardized a very important step toward our disengagement from Viet Nam.

I think if the President had opposed Cooper-Church and given our people an explanation of his position, it could have been defeated. But one of President Nixon’s serious weaknesses is an apparent lack of confidence in the common sense of the American people. This is coupled with a rather obvious lack of confidence in his own ability to inspire the confidence of the people by reasoning with them instead of playing political games.

To lead this nation successfully, it is necessary that a President at times go over the heads of the obstructionist politicians and appeal directly to the people as President Harry Truman did so effectively.

I firmly believe that our best chance to avert war is through strength. In this regard, President Nixon’s speech writers evidently do not talk to his policymakers. The speeches are strong, the policies are weak. As time goes on, I shall discuss this issue more fully.

We must not risk bungling or stumbling into another war because of weakness which might cause miscalculations by aggressors. Strength provides insurance against war. Weakness invites it. This is a lesson of history we should have learned by now if we don’t want to have to learn it again.

I do not think the so-called doves can succeed in “fastening the war around the President’s neck.” The commitment to our objective in Viet Nam goes back at least to President John F. Kennedy. In fact, Nixon is doing what the doves want. He is withdrawing but calling it “Vietnamization“– a typical example of Nixon’s political gamesmanship.

I have never approved of our conduct of the war in Southeast Asia. I opposed our connivance in the overthrow of President Diem and I said so. Only now are the facts about this tragedy beginning to get some public attention.

I opposed the severe political restraints on our military operations while young men’s lives were at stake. I said so publicly and emphatically. I personally urged President Johnson to relax some political restraints and get the war over with. I went so far as to tell President Johnson I felt he had no right to send 19-year-old Americans to Viet Nam to risk their lives under political restrictions depriving them of the use of American technology to save their lives and punish the aggressor.

Our foreign policy is in disarray. Our friends are confused. Our statement of purpose lack credibility and free world solidarity is diminishing. As an example, when Red China was admitted to the United Nations with our consent and Taiwan ousted over our apparent objection, there was doubt in the minds of many concerning our real desire.

In the Middle East, we are pressuring Israel to make another piecemeal settlement with the Arabs including withdrawal in the Sinai and opening of the Suez Canal -- a move that would facilitate movement of the growing Russian naval fleet to Indian Ocean bases available to it and also greatly shorten the Russian naval supply line to Hanoi via this route. The problems we face in this area are complicated but there is a clear need for face-to-face negotiations between the parties themselves and an understanding on our part of the Israeli reluctance to be pressured into another interim stop-gap arrangement with no real peace in sight.

The most obvious failure of the Nixon administration is in the field of economics. The early deliberate drastic reigning-in of this economy snowballed downward so fast the administration panicked as the 1972 election loomed over the horizon. All promises were promptly forgotten. Fiscal irresponsibility and political expediency became the order of the day – anything to get by ‘72 with no thought of what comes after.

Too many Washington politicians learned they can finance programs with printing press money by piling debts on this and future generations. This is not only fiscal madness, it is grossly unfair to young people coming into the economy saddled with a huge tax-eating debt.

In eight years under President Harry Truman, the national debt was increased $1.6 billion. This year alone, the Nixon administration will cause a deficit of $30 billion and maybe even more. A previous Nixon deficit budget was deceptively labeled a “full employment budget“ and a “self fulfilling prophecy.“ It was neither. Now even the pretense of fiscal responsibility has been brushed aside. While the administration fuels the fire of inflation with one hand, it is forced to hold the other hand on the lid of the boiling pot in a desperate effort to postpone the consequences until after 1972. As a result, the marvelously productive American free enterprise system has been placed in a straitjacket -- its future clouded with uncertainty -- its performance threatened by political manipulation. And yet, we see Democratic candidates insisting that the administration spend even more and tax less. They do not hesitate to propose politically popular spending programs but they do hesitate to vote for the taxes to pay the costs. It is easier and more expedient just to pass the costs on to future generations by piling up the national debt and let others worry with it later.

Obviously, to generate the kind of revenue required to finance Federal programs, we must drastically overhaul our tax system. It cannot be done merely adding to our present hodge-podge. Many of these Democratic candidates destroyed thousands of useful jobs when they forced the costly abandonment of our supersonic transport program. Our people’s tax money invested in the program was thrown down the drain, our leadership in commercial aviation abandoned, and an important export item lost to politics. Senator Jackson, who comes from Washington, did support the Boeing SST, but he refused to help save the Lockheed L-1011 which is now providing useful work for thousands of our aerospace workers.

I believe most Americans want and are entitled to a responsible alternative to the Nixon administration. I don’t believe the current crop of Washington politicians can provide an acceptable alternative to moderate Americans, both Democrats and Republicans.

I am entering the contest not because of any personal desire to wield power or to seek glory. I have had, thanks to the people, an opportunity to serve in state, national and local government over of time span going back to 1936. I’ve taken my lumps for saying what I believe, such as in 1940 when I advocated a declaration of war on Hitler. I was soundly defeated, but what I predicted came to pass. I voluntarily give up my career, joined the armed forces and spent three years of my life in a war that could have been avoided if political leaders had put politics aside and leveled with the people.

I do not want to see another generation of young Americans march off to war because of short-sighted politicians. If the American people wish me to use my long experience to help correct our national course, I am ready. I will not use a coterie of researchers and speech writers to tell me what to think and say. The views I express will be mine. The image alone will be my own and not something fabricated for a campaign by public relations experts.

 

Courtesy: Yorty For President Committee

 

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