Interview with Tom Hayden
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

UM, AND HOW THAT BEGAN TO, TO BE A PROB—-YOU KNOW, A PART OF THE PROBLEM OF RECONCILING, GETTING ANY SORT OF SOLUTION TO THE CHALLENGE IN '64. OK.

Tom Hayden:

Well, the conflict at the uh, Democratic Convention was very much uh, in, in retrospect between uh, pragmatic liberal leadership of the Democratic Party versus a new generation of activists who were basically possessed by a dream and by a vision and didn't want to hear about compromise. Uh, it was not over the uh, uh, direction of the Democratic Party from the delegates' point of view because the delegates uh, were for the seating of the Mississippi Freedom delegation. Uh, we had the votes, the people had signed up. What it was, was uh, uh, the pragmatic liberals deciding that it was not in the national interest of the party, the strategic interest of winning elections to allow this uh, to occur. Uh, and that caused a polarization, that caused a tremendous bitterness because it meant to the poor blacks from the South, the SNCC organizers, the advocates, that they were just seeing, uh, liberalism basically unmasked and turning itself into pragmatism without purpose. That's how it was seen. Uh, and it was, it was actually uh, in retrospect unnecessary. I think Johnson would have defeated Goldwater uh, uh, in any event, but what happened is that it poisoned uh, uh, progressive and liberal politics and set the stage for black power and for, for other uh, new developments because the basic lesson that these uh, p—possessed and uh, extremely idealistically driven uh, civil rights workers took from that convention was that you can't uh, trust liberals. They had already had it with segregationists, they knew conservatives, the last hope was the liberals, and uh, the liberals let, let uh, let them down.