Democrats and Presidential elections. In 1974 a potential victory was handed to the party on a platter; the resignation of President Nixon and the swearing in of his successor; a man who was not elected, but rather appointed by the President, in the face of a previous scandal involving his vice-President.
And with the amount of anger and disillusionment sweeping across America, you would think the time would be right to prepare for an election sweep in 1976 – a Democratic candidate, almost ANY Democratic candidate could sweep in, carrying the House and Senate with him. And for the most part, pundits and politicians were poised for a wave of change. But would the bickering, in-fighting and power plays be yet another “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” moment?
In this episode of Meet The Press, Gov. Terry Sanford and Rep. Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, Chair and co-Chair of the Democratic Charter Commission sat down for an interview/panel discussion with NBC’s Douglas Kiker, David Broder from The Washington Post, Marianne Means of King Features and Carl Rowan of the Chicago Daily News.
At issue was a Charter, drafted by the DNC to be voted on at the Mid-term Democratic Convention the following week and the speculation over a big fight between party regulars and party Liberals over the question of delegate quotas and Affirmative Action for minorities. At a previous meeting, the issue caused a walkout of Black party members and many were afraid the same issue would bring the same results. Sanford was optimistic that enough revisions had taken place so that a repeat of the earlier walk-out wouldn’t happen this time. Mrs. Burke voiced surprise that it was even an issue. She had though the matter was settled during the previous convention.
The bigger picture was the concern many shared within both parties that Americans were abandoning the two-party system and registering as Independent, or simply not voting at all. But it’s interesting to hear how the issue of quotas and Affirmative Action were being addressed in 1974, within the framework of political parties.
Here is that episode of Meet The Press, as it originally aired on December 1, 1974.