IN A recent syndicated column, Roscoe Drummond-articulating in public what many have been saying in private-suggests the possibility of a four-party race in 1972, similar to that of 1948. Drummond casts a radical faction headed by Eugene McCarthy, Senators McGovern, Harris, and Hughes, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark in the role played by Henry Wallace and his Progressive party in 1948, likens Senators Muskie and Humphrey to the Truman Democrats, sees George Wallace paralleling the Dixiecrats in 1948, with President Nixon assuming the role of Thomas E. Dewey. Though Truman won in 1948, Drummond claims that the Nixon forces relish the prospect of a break by the Democratic Left from a party controlled by Muskie and the centrists. He agrees, arguing that the schismatists of 1972 would have a far more damaging impact on Muskie than Henry Wallace’s breakaway group had on Harry
Truman. I doubt that this judgment is correct.
In 1972 some would bolt Muskie or another centrist candidate-those out of office, like Eugene McCarthy and Ramsey Clark; perhaps a Senator or two not up for reelection in the immediate future; the New Left intelligentsia and those of the young and near-young under its influence, together with a sizable number of famous names from the worlds of culture and entertainment. But the great majority of liberal Democratic politicians, especially the officeholders, would remain.
About the Author