First Published: Berkeley Barb, April 7, 1967.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Over 10,000 Berkeley voters did not bother to vote for candidates in the city elections held this week as the comfy middle-class overwhelmingly put back all incumbents plus one – Ron Dellums, a popular Negro candidate for city council who was endorsed by everybody.
The vote was around 25,000, down from 35,000 in the November elections.
In a listless campaign put on by the entrenched Democrats and the bland Republicans, what moments of excitement and spirit were created by Jerry Rubin for Mayor and the thrust of the Community For New Politics. Otherwise, 20,000 people (or more) would have stayed home.
The tale is told in the vote total: The New Left got 10,000 votes; the Old Left, 1,000; Jerry Rubin. 7,000; the Bircher-Rightist Huntley, 2000. Mayor Johnson et al got around 25,000 votes.
As the votes were being tallied at the Little Theatre auditorium, Robert Avakian (CNP) told it like it was, “Let not the people feel too comfortable about this vote,” he said. “For the first time in Berkeley, a movement has dared raised issues and challenged the status quo.”
He said that the 10,000 votes for the CNP will “replace this sick society with the good society,” and like Stokley Carmichael said, ”If you don’t move over, we’re going to move over you.”
Mayor Johnson, the winner and still champion, made a “victory statement.” It was in his usual colorless style which prompted the Daily Cal, on the day of the election, to make this editorial comment on his candidacy: “The mayor himself finds great difficulty in defending or even articulating his political philosophy.”
As the votes kept coming in for the mayor, he felt obliged to utter these now famous words: “The vote for me keeps Berkeley in the mainstream of American life.”
This set the stage for Jerry Rubin to get the biggest hand of the evening (he lost the election but won the Little Theatre). “I am proud to challenge this mainstream of American life,” he said, “for it is the mainstream of war and corruption in Vietnam, of racism and corruption at home.”
Rubin pointed out that “the mainstream in California is Ronald Reagan.” He thanked the people who voted for him because “they showed they don’t want any part of this mainstream of a sick, middle-class extremist, society.”
The establishment-Democrats now are in collaboration with the anti-Fair Housing councilmen (Bort, DeBonis) and the Mayor. (Note: Johnson said he runs his business on “The Golden Rule” but when it comes to Fair Housing, the Golden Rule, he says, must not come from Berkeley, but from the State, if then).
Charlie Artman remained transcendental even after the end. “Support the victors,” he counselled.
Bircher Huntley (who switched from Republican to Democrat) had this to say in his eight-page campaign paper smear of Mayor Johnson and the New Left: “America’s colleges and Universities are our nation’s pride...What Happened?”
He got dumped, that’s what happened.
Excerpts from his paper: “The Mayor can’t see you today. He’s laying in front of a troop train.” (Note: Johnson never laid in front of anything, let alone a troop train).
“The little fellow with the beedy eyes and Stalin mustache peering at you from the middle of the crowd is Castroite Marxist Jerry Rubin...who admits he lives off his girl friend...
This type of Hitler-ravings against not only Mayor Johnson but candidate Rubin, the CNP, and Telegraph Avenue, was almost matched by the Berkeley Gazette.
In a series of articles by Lari Blumenfeld (whose husband, Sam, is reporter for the SF Examiner), the flickering gas-jet (about to disappear for lack of gas) smeared the CNP and the Peace Mobilization with the same thick red brush.
Lari even quotes “evidence” from the “Los Angeles Fireman’s Research Foundation” on “communists in Berkeley.” One immediately wonders just what ANY firemen research politics for in the first place, let alone all the way up here in Berkeley.
The LA firemen couldn’t put out Watts but they sure know, according to Lari, what the hell is going on in Berkeley!
This, of course, is the next “mainstream vote” in Berkeley. But if Jerry Rubin and the CNP keep fighting, no matter what the vote, then the Birchers and the Lari’s won’t make the scene in Berkeley.