Fred Harris 1976 Announcement Speech




Both the economy and the politics of our country are in deep trouble. Too few people have all the money and power, and most people have little or none.


Yet, we have a rare chance in 1976 to help return America to its most traditional principle: the right of all of our people to a fair chance and a fair share by their own efforts.


What stands in the way is privilege. Privilege is the issue. It prevents full employment and fair taxes. It drives up prices and corrupts Democracy.


The basic question in 1976 is whether our government will look after the interests of the average family or continue to protect the super rich and the giant corporations.


I am a candidate for President because I want to make a difference in this country. I will enter the Democratic Primary in New Hampshire. LaDonna and I are deeply grateful for the warm friendship and support which we have found in New Hampshire already.


This campaign will be a people's campaign --both in strategy and in beliefs. The strategy is simply this: we will go to the people. The beliefs are these: people are smart enough to govern themselves; and a widespread diffusion of economic and political power ought to be the express goal of government.


Some speak of unifying the Democratic Party. I call for the unity of America, unity around principle and national purpose. We must lower taxes for most Americans and raise them for the Nelson Rockefellers and the J. Paul Gettys. We must stop the EXXONs and the Safeways from using their monopoly power to squeeze out competitors and then overcharge consumers. The government must stop emptying the pockets of those who have to work for a living in order to subsidize the Lockheeds and the Penn-Centrals.


1976 can be the year of the people – because several vital things have occurred.


--Most people now know how they are victimized by money and power. It is tragic that it took Watergate, inflation and recession for some of them to see it. But they now do see it.


--The change in the Presidential campaign financing laws mean that a few rich people won't choose our President in 1976. Federal financing, including federal matching funds in the primaries, together with severe restrictions of contributions and spending, mean that the people now have a fighting chance against the ITTs and the Gulf Oils.


--We have kept the reforms which democratized the Democratic Party. So, no few powerful politicians can annoint a nominee.


It is up to us. The power is in us -- the people of the Country – as our founders intended. I ask Americans to join in this effort to return America to its people. Let’s get to work for America!


Source:   Fred Harris for President News Release

Courtesy: Fred Harris Collection, Carl Albert Congressional Archives,

          University of Oklahoma