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What Ever Happened to t he HRP? continu ...

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What Ever Happened to t he HRP? continu f Paqe 5 reet" but impractical candidate was more important than defeating a maniac like Nixon. Obviously Spock had no chance of winning. These people feit that since they were opposed to capitalism they should always oppose candidates from the capitalist Republican and Democratie parties, regardless of the possible practical consequences. Another view was taken by the RPP and other people more rooted in the permanent Ann Arbor community. They thought that the best way to organize a third party would be to speak to the issues that directly affected people's lives at the time, not to emphasize abstract politics. They wanted to endorse McGovern as a necessary alternative to Nixon in 1972. They knew that especially in the Presidential race there was a difference between Republicans and Democrats as they effect people on the street, although both parties are ultimately part of the obsolete capitalist system. The RIP college radicáis also thought it was more important to run for State Senator and State Legislator against liberal Democrats than to run for the local offices of Sheriff and County Prosecutor. This despite the fact that one radical State Legisiator out of a hundred has far less actual ability to implement change than a radical Sheriff of Prosecutor does locally. The RIPers were in effect abandoning the principie of creating a local base first. The HRP convention voted down the Rainbow People's Party proposals and the RPP walked out of the convention, refusing to particípate in the fall campaign in the hope that the HRP would realize that its course was a rnistake. THE LOSING FALL CAMPAIGN While the overwhelming majority of Washtenaw County supported McGovern, the HRP plunged into a campaign that emphasized opposing McGovern. They stressed their own internal structure and narrqw political theories an unyielding "principies" at a time when the Democrats were purposely fielding young, attractive, radical-sounding candidates who spoke to the concrete issues of the day. The campaign failed miserably. Even though favored to win, HRP's State Rep. candidate and two County Commissioner candidates lost to their Democratie rivals. Understandably interest in the party waned. All the time and energy of the fall campaign had been betrayed. Hoping that perhaps now the HRP was ready to start a newcourse, the Rainbow People's Party started a campaign to "Re-Humanize the HRP" in December of 1972 through the Ann Arbor SUN and a series of leaflets. It called on the party to reunite, throw off the old leadership that had dictated the losing fall campaign strategy, and get back to building a mass base in the community. They organized a slate of people to run in the HRP primary in February called the Community Unity Slate. This effort was labelled an attempted "take over" and became such an issue that HRP's convention to elect its new coördinator and steering committee drew a record attendance of 350 people. The three candidates for coördinator drew almost equal numbers of votes. Sue Steigerwalt, a member of the Chocolate Almond Caucus (actually their own name) and a staunch believer in the very policies that had made the HRP isolated, became coördinator. Linda Ross, the RPP's candidate, lost by 3 votes. Reacting to the charges of attempting to take over the HRP the Community Slate withdrew.all its candidates except David Sinclair in the 2nd ward. The HRP 2nd ward primary was as bitter and dirty a Not only did every single HRP candidate lose in last year's election, but they split the progressive vote in the 4th ward and Mayor 's race unnecessarily , electing a rabid Republican majority. paign as any Democrat or Republican campaign had ever been. David Sinclair ran against Frank Shoichet who had proved himself a dabbler in dirty tricks in the fall campaign by putting out a "Purely Bullshit" leaflet slandering Democratie State Rep. candidate Perry Bullard. For three weeks David Sinclair endured unsubstantiated charges of sexism and of being interested only in rock & roll and dope. These charges were made in letters to the Daily & unsigned slanderous smear leaflets. His posters and leaflets were ripped down almost as soon as they were put up. The day before the election a half page ad appeared in the Michigan Daily signed by members of the Gay Awareness Women's Kollective and the Gay Liberation Front. It said "The Rainbow People's Party's practice has been totally unacceptable" and urged people not to vote for David Sinclair . Frank won, but the HRP's fall fiasco and the vituprity of the campaign turned so inany people off that the voter turnout for the primary was the lowest of any ward and much lower than had been expected. Now it was time for the election itself. The HRP had a mass meeting to determine its strategy. David Sinclair, RPP member and losing 2nd ward candidate called on the HRP to limit its campaign to the lst and 2nd wards since it could not win in the others, patircularly the 4th ward. His analysis was that the HRP was in a weak positrón after the fall campaign and the recent ugly primary fight, and would be hard pressed to win even in its 2nd ward stronghold. He suggested the mayor's race be mainly run in the lst and 2nd wards to help those campaigns. He feared the HRP would split the vote in the 4th ward and in the mayor's race and cause the Republicans to win a 7 person majority on council. History proved his analysis to be true. But the HRP decided to run as if to win in all races. The end result was the splitting of the progressive vote in the 4th ward a'nd in the mayor's race, creating a majority of 7 Republicans on City CounciL when otherwise there would have been only 5 Republicans. It takes 6 votes to pass any council legislatjon. The students and freeks who had flocked to the polls the year before stayed home. The voter turnout in the lst and 2nd wards was painfully low. Even Frank Shoichet, favored in the 2nd ward to win, lost to Dem. Carol Jones. The HRP's candidate for mayor, Bee Kaimowitz, ran a "Let's Make a Miracle Happen" campaign, attacking liberal Democrat Fran Mogdis for being part of the war machine since he worked at Bendix. Elected was smooth talking Republican reactionary James Stephenson. He received 13,000 votes. Mogdis, 1 1 .000 and Bee Kaimowitz, 5,600. In the 4th ward Phil Carroll of the HRP received 1200 votes. Dem. Ethel Lewis, 2,900 votes, and Republican Richard Hadier. 3.300. The RepuUicans will maintain control of City Council at least until the spring 1975 elections, no matter what happens this year. In 1975 the progressive majority will once again have an opportunity to take power. But the only way to do that would be to elect Democrats in the 4lh ward and mayor' s race since the HRP hasn't a chance at those offices. But just as it did in 1973, the HRP could once again blindly split the vote, assuring the Republican's victories in these two races and continued reactionary dominance of the city. Any political pragmatist would warn against the HRP taking that road, but nowit's spring 1'974 and the HRP is again running in all five wards. All its candidates were willing participants in the 1973 fiasco thatelected the Republicans. This year however they have adopted a vaguely different strategy in the 4th ward where HRJP's Margo Nichols is running against Democrat James Kenworthy and Republican incumbent Clyde William Colburn. They are admitting that they cannot win, but still are "trying to get as many votes as possible". In an election as close as the 4th ward and with a Democratie candidate who is not strong running against the ever-popular Clyde Colburn, Margo's candidacymayjust tip the scales and insure Colburn's unnecessary election. If the HRP had played its cards right and not followed such an elitist, narrow road, it could have been holding 4 seats on City Council by now, 2 each from the first and and second wards. Instead it looks like when Nancy and Jerry leave they may not have a single seat left. Some people, mostly Democrats, say this is proof tljat a third party should not exist in Ann Arbor. But the Democrats even when they were in power, were never visionary or progressive enough for the students, young, and black people of Ann Arbor. And the local Democratie Party's moves to the left in the past two years have taken place largely as a result of the HRP's 1972 victories. The SUN believes there is a natural constitueney here for the HRP, but because of its 'foolish, isolated policies of the past, many of it potential supporters have dropped by the wayside. There is a bright future in Ann Arbor for a third radical party that truly takes the community's interests to heart, instead of its own abstractly unyielding "principies." We believe that a dynamic third party could could win and increasing number of the city's wards in time, starting with the first and second. And we would be eager to particípate actively in such an organization. In the meantime, the SUN supports the HRP's marijuana and rent control ballot proposals, which can win this April First if enough people register to vote. However, we have not yet announced support for any candidates this spring. We urge people who are interested in the questions this article has raised to write us letters and give us your ideas about the future political course of the Human Rights Party.