Resonant Conscience

Maverick Emerges

Since the election of Ralph Yarborough, Texas politics has been less interesting and less fundamental because of the absence of a rising liberal leader in whom the state's considerable but mostly latent liberalism could find its expression and result. Although he made a good showing against Ben Ramsey, Don Yarborough did not develop, last spring, into this leader: he seemed still to have too much to learn, and to be too "political," too cautious. Rep. Bob Eckhardt of Houston is a state leader of unrivaled stature among liberals, but his career, being as important as it is, has tended toward a steadier program of ascent. There are other able liberal leaders, but most of them are principally local figures.

Therefore, the sudden emergence of Maury Maverick, Jr., as the most likely and best qualified liberal candidate should a U.S. Senate race develop next year is by all odds the best Texas political news since the sweep of the San Antonio House delegation by the Franklin Spears coalition.

As a member of the House in the early fifties, when the legislature was controlled by unrestrained interests of private privileges, when the state government was ridden through with thieves and bribery, and when McCarthyism—Texas style—was making cowards of most politicians, Maverick stood forth, alone when necessary, for his convictions. A "worrier," he would pace the floor of the House, head hanging down, chest collapsed, as the debauches of democratic government were passed off on an inattentive press and an uninformed people. His bursts of protest at the microphone and his lonely nays on the voting board are remembered now by those few whose spirits followed his slouching image back and forth across the well of the House.

We were disappointed this year when Maverick worked for Johnson for President; but while we make no excuses for this, we would recall that Maverick led the fight in the Bexar County caucus at the state convention for the liberals' loyalty oath, even though Johnson bitterly opposed it.

The people who know Maverick know that he is a person of integrity, a liberal of independent spirit, a militant friend of civil liberties and civil rights, and one of those resonant consciences without which political debate would be hollow sloganeering and democracy mere merchandising.

His speech at the labor convention last week created the climate of idealism and courage in which the delegates decided to endorse the Negroes' lunch-counter sit-ins as the same kind of social pioneering by which the unions themselves won their place in American life.

A careful student and a proud inheritor of Texas history, Maverick fixes thereon the unmistakeable antecedents of contemporary Texas liberalism.

Although he is the son of a legendary Texas congressman, it is more important that he is a son of the bright liberal heritage of his state and nation.

We hope he runs for the Senate if a race develops. We believe he could win while fighting for the most controversial principles—which he would most certainly do.

The Texas Observer, August 19, 1960

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