An Age of Science - America in the Feynman Era

In these chapters, we set up some of the two important personalities who will be making an appearence in this arc. Both very important characters of the tapestry that is American (and even world) History and who, honestly, are going to do more to shake things up than Feynman could have hoped to on his own. If you were hoping for a Feynman v. Reagan race, I hope you enjoy it going along with Warren v. Eisenhower
Like everyone else, yeah this seems to be an unusual premise. To be honest, Feynman is just that science guy who played the bongos to me, so I wonder how he's going to handle having to make more serious decisions. I like stories that aren't just copies of reality so having a lot of divergences early on sounds great to me.

To me he is the one that hammered a rubber O-ring out of a glass of icy water to proof it was an unreliable piece of junk. Also smashing NASA pre-Challenger-disaster insane complacency in the process.
Chapter 7: Primaries
7. Primaries

Finally, the primaries came and the results were, if incredible for anyone who had been asleep since January, quite predictable to those who followed the election from even a healthy distance. The newspapers already had their attentions focused on the race ahead to decide the governor.

In the Republican primaries, Reagan’s victory had long been assured. This was confirmed when he received almost 65% of the vote, a strong majority among the Republicans and more than 700 thousand votes more than his distant second competition, former Mayor George Cristopher. This allowed him to reclaim the mantle of a united Republican Party, and have the conservatives continue to enforce their strategy of chastising signs of discord within, allegedly to avoid dividing the party, but truly to suppress the opposition to their wing from the moderate folk in the GOP.

On the Democratic side, the developments that had made this primary a predictable event were quite more recent, with the clear advantages only truly settling around late May; a month earlier, the numbers were quite different indeed, with Feynman a virtual unknown. Now all of that had changed, and on the 8th Feynman emerged unquestioned champion with almost 70% of the vote, and defeating Sam Yorty by almost 1.3 million voters, a number that went beyond even the most optimistic expectations.

The campaign was set; both candidates had become solid candidates for their respective parties. The Republicans rallied under Reagan, as the conservative wing became increasingly emboldened by their victory and by the audacity of their champion, while the Democrats were mostly happily supporting Professor Feynman, whose charisma was proving as wonderful as was said among the scientific community, a delightful surprise to most. Prepared by years of professorship for this exact thing, he was able to joke and explain serious and complicated matters and leave everyone delighted and more aware of the issues surrounding this election.

The two candidates were newcomers, and the two had swiftly rose to become sensations in the mediatic world of politics; this election attracted the attentions of the entire nation, as the developments of the combat between the (mad) scientist and the actor continued.

Now, that race grew in power, as both candidates turned to each other, preparing for the ramming of horns. And, perhaps more importantly, behind them stood great giants who had long overdue bills to pay with each other, and who would make sure this would be a memorable election.
Chapter 8: planes are landing
8. planes are landing

As the election fever for California, 1966 continued to grow wildly, in the weeks following the primaries two planes flew across the country, each bringing with them two very important individuals; first came Earl Warren, the Chief Justice, who took advantage of the Supreme Court’s summer vacation, lasting until October, to visit his native state, officially in vacation. It didn’t raise too many eyebrows, however, when two days after his arrival he visited the Feynman house in Altadena, much to the interest of the press. From there, the former Governor would repeat his endorsement of Professor Feynman’s bid for governorship, in a daring move that crossed party lines to do so.

Appearing to be under the wing of tutelage of Earl Warren was seemingly profitable to Feynman’s efforts. Earl Warren was a Republican, but a Republican aligned with the Progressive wing that had once dominated the Party. He had been Governor during a pivotal point of the State’s history, from the Second World War to the beginnings of the Cold War, and his programme of efficiency and planning resonated with the ideals of Feynman and with the people of California, who associated it with an orderly and smart government of public work enhancement. Which also happened to be what Feynman was promising.

What exactly was the role of Earl Warren in the Feynman campaign is not certain, but many point out that his influence, know-how and contacts allowed many doors to be opened to the inexperience physicist, and even that he oriented his campaign by pointing out what was needed and where for votes to be won. However, given the intimate relationship of Warren and the Feynman family, becoming a usual guest at the house, very little is written of those campaign days.

In the first days of July, however, another plan took off from the East Coast, this time from Gettysburg Airport, in Pennsylvania, and carrying none other than former President Dwight Eisenhower, who had the grace to also give as an official reason that he wanted to spend the 4th of July and then perhaps the rest of the summer in his retirement residence in Palm Desert, in Riverside County. The poorly-hid charade was broken when Ronald and Nancy Reagan went to pass the 4th of July in that very city, where a great crowd greeted them and former President Eisenhower, who spoke on behalf of Reagan and the need to rebuild the Republican Party. He spoke of the need to find common-sense solutions and unite Californians to strengthen their cause.

Eisenhower made an effort to always attract the media’s attention as much as possible to both himself and Reagan, who he pushed to make it his prime vehicle for the race. In his contact with the media, there was but one annoyance, that was their push to have the former President comment on the persecutions of Oppenheimer and, by association, Feynman, which had come to light due to the accusations of Sam Yorty. This matter seemed to disturb the former President, who vehemently refused to comment. The only time he did say something, it was answering a question on what he thought of the accusations against Oppenheimer during his tenure, and the answer was “It was a mistake”, seeming very upset with the very line of questioning. This was enough to create a scandal that lowered Reagan’s points slightly.

The nature of Eisenhower’s role in the Reagan campaign seems to have been quite different from the one of Warren, despite the competition between the two the media claimed to exist. He was not a mentor of Reagan, but was more of a force to draw attention unto his campaign trail; not that Reagan needed it, as his popularity was high, due to his personal charm, but the President’s presence did help him draw more of the media’s attention.

As it was, the two national candidates also helped bringing a closer focus towards the candidates’ actions in southern California. Traditionally a Republican stronghold and a severely underrepresented one at that, until the State Supreme Court had, in late October 1965, gave an order for reapportionment of the State legislatures that balanced the north-south power dynamic much more to the southern county’s advantages. The fact that each candidate hailed from and spent more time around Los Angeles did however help their popularity among those areas; who would emerge victorious for those combats, however, was still to be seen.
Chapter 9: talk of education
9. talk of education

During the campaign, Reagan maintained his talking points, that were mostly unchangeable throughout his tours around the State, speaking around the need for crime control, the end of welfare and then break the power of the left-wing in the State, the last point somewhat affected by the dropout of Governor Pat Brown, as the Republicans had planned to set out against his broken promise of not seeking a third term.

Feynman, rather than go against what Reagan stated, possibly because he didn’t disagree entirely with some points either, decided to continue to pursue his interests in the office – namely, the improvement of public education and the providing of infrastructure for California, especially as it gave both employment opportunities and increased the business attractiveness of the State.

Education was, therefore, a major talking point on Feynman’s list. Having worked in the State Curriculum Commission, he was aware of the lack of proper textbook material for the schoolchildren of the State, a situation he made a key issue throughout his campaign.

In early September, as parents prepared to send their children to a new school year, Professor Feynman spoke before a great crowd, mostly made of schoolchildren’s parents, teachers and other supporters in the field of education, where he exposed his program for education during his governorship.

“It is a thrill to see such a crowd of young families coming to see me. It is always enjoyable to see young faces raising children, providing for them teaching them how to be good Americans, good scientists, good citizens of this fine State. Those children are our future, and it is a joy to see how our future flourishes. I have looked it up and, in California alone, almost 4 million and 8 hundred thousand boys and girls will be attending school this year. That is almost one in each four Californians, a tremendously great proportion. Their parents account more around 4 million Californians, or one in each five Californians.

I am sorry if I bore you with the numbers, but I am a physicist, a mathematician at heart, and the math is simple on this – you are not alone. The parents of California make a significant proportion of the electorate, and if they rally together no elected official can forgo their promises to them.

I am a parent myself. And I am an educator. And I am a citizen, a concerned citizen, who sees that only through education can the efforts of our country come to fruition. It is for those reasons I see the education of our children as paramount and the number one point in my work in public service.

The first and most urgent need for the schoolchildren of California is for their textbooks to the best ones conceivable. For that reason, I will put the State Curriculum Commission to work on finding and composing the finest piece of material they may find, with the help of experts from our great research centres. I know these people, I worked with them and I know which ones our children will need to teach them the crucial points of their education.

What is also needed is that our children have access to the finest pieces of equipment in their schools, be them for the classroom, for their physical education or for their laboratory work. Nothing is as dangerous for an active young mind than to see old and wasted things in its way. It shows them we do not care and it makes them not care either. We will have none of that, and supply our schools with the best material so that our children can go hands down on it and set on work. That is true education, to create and see how things work. That is how men and women are built.

Our education needs to refocus. I have seen many students with impeccable remarks come through my classroom. Some of them were fine young minds, ready to create new things and work with the degree of excellence that I always demand for my students and will demand from your government. They are capable of thinking for themselves and assess problems and create solutions. That is what we need! That is what California needs and should create. Others, however, went through their education never truly learning to do anything, merely memorising the phrases and concepts and knowing nothing of how to apply them. I am always unimpressed with such a man. I do not want to work with them, and I do not want to be responsible for bringing more of them into the world.

From there comes my greatest grievance with our current Superintendent of Public Instruction. This November, the people of California will be going to the ballot and, beyond choosing a governor, will also choose many key elements of the Californian State government. Among the most important for a parent such as myself, the Superintendent stars on that list. To choose a good Superintendent is an important part of the duty of the citizen. I will do everything to ensure that our children receive their best education, but without a great Superintendent to execute those plans, it will be a more arduous and slower task. For the sake of our children, who grow up so fast, immediate action is needed.

I have met Superintendent Rafferty. I worked with him when I was at the State Curriculum Commission, and through this campaign, as I got to know more and more people who make this great State function, I had the opportunity to meet him too. I have also read his books, one of them called “Suffer, Little Children”. I was not impressed. I did not think the title of the book meant the goal of the philosophy written within its pages.

Superintendent Rafferty’s view of education is the education I have seen time and time again fail my students. It puts memorizing concepts that they do not understand and have them report them back without contemplating them thoroughly. The study habits he wants our children to follow and the textbooks he wants them to learn from are devoid of content and applications. Physics, mathematics, science, they are not about knowing things, memorising theorems. They are, in the end, about knowing to put your hands to work and create things that are useful for our society, for our families. You can know a lot about everything, and have memorised all names in the encyclopaedias, but if you do not know how to do great things with your knowledge, you are not a scientist.

This is not a partisan issue. This is not between liberal and conservative. This should not be a political matter. It is a travesty that a man has to run for office for his grievances around education be heard, and it is a travesty how Rafferty has made this office a political one. This is not about politics, this is about our children. It is not about liberal or conservative, but about their future.

I have talked with Superintendent Rafferty and expressed my concerns. I exposed him my program for the education of our children and asked – are you ready to put this into motion? He didn’t seem willing to cooperate. He is too bent in his ways, despite being proven wrong. That is the opposite of what a man of science and a public servant should be like. That is the opposite I am at Caltech and the opposite I will be in Sacramento.

With that in mind, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot endorse Mr. Rafferty to continue serving as our Superintendent of Public Instruction. Upon understanding this, I thought about all Californian educators I knew and had met in these last months, I enquired about the subject with many people knowledgeable about the matter and a number of fitting candidates were found. I personally interviewed them, and found that this State has been blessed with many competent enough to fulfil such a position, and with whom I hope to work with from next year forward.

However, one man distinguished himself. I had the pleasure to meet Wilson Riles, a devoted educator working in our Department of Education. This was one strong man, born in the most precarious of conditions, in poverty and being tormented throughout his life, working his way through elementary school, and still always keeping his head straight on to his goals, serving our country during the war and returning to hold the noble position of teacher to the most disadvantaged of children, making all he could to provide them with the best education his meagre resources allowed him.

His efforts have allowed him to rise greatly, and he has devoted his life to the pursuit of education opportunities for all. Today, he is the head of our compensator education program, that improves the opportunities of students that suffer from disabilities, allowing them, despite their frailty, to pursue an honest living. This is a very important job, and I wouldn’t take him away from it if I didn’t know that there is a more important job yet for him to do.

Such a man is the one who we need as Superintendent, for he knows of the most concerning of cases, those of the people who don’t have enough to live with, and have come to believe they will not rise from that position. That is un-American thinking and it is wrong. In America, in California, everyone has the opportunity to rise, regardless of where they begin.

With that in mind, I now introduce to you the man who I will be working with as Superintendent of Public Instruction for California. I hope you find him as fitting and as qualified as I did, from the many conversations we have had the opportunity to enjoy”.

Then, Professor Feynman gave way and allowed Wilson Riles to stand forward and speak. A general shock was felt. Until then, the name was virtual unknown to Californians, and even Riles hadn’t considered the office until Feynman came up with the suggestion of endorsement, and even then he had his doubts. The paramount concern was the fact that Riles was a black man, which meant he would be the first black man to be elected to State office, and this amidst the racial tensions due to the Watts riots in 1965. This endorsement made clear Feynman’s position regarding civil rights and racial relations, at the very least.

Many were surprised with how well-spoken, articulate and thoroughly nice Wilson Riles was, starting with he short speech he gave presenting himself and his campaign for the position of Superintendent. He spoke of his life and childhood struggles, but in a very cordial manner, looking back on his efforts as being character-builders rather than anything he felt anguished for. He spoke of his experiences meeting white colleagues, and how he understood that most Americans didn’t care the least about other peoples’ race, as they had their own personal matters. This resonated will with the audience, many of whom disliked the radical ways of the student movements but were not fond either of the violent struggle for segregation of the conservatives throughout the nation. Riles also spoke of his goal of ensuring early education with mastery on reading, writing and math, with efforts towards parental involvement and teacher instruction, and his promises of keeping the office non-partisan by creating a league of conservatives and liberals to allow every idea to be heard when discussing educational policy.

Wilson Riles seemed to be quite competent, as Professor Feynman had said. There were no particular persecutions of the man outside of some fringe segregationist conservatives, but his endorsement had left many wondering what was exactly Feynman’s opinion on racial policy.

The answer they would get was thoroughly simple, as found out by a quick interview with a local radio, during a campaign stop in central California.

INTERVIEWER: Professor Feynman! What is your stance on Wilson Riles bid for Superintendancy?

FEYNMAN: I fully endorse and support Mr. Riles. I look forward to working alongside him to provide the best education to all schoolchildren of the State of California.

INTERVIEWER: Our audience questions what is your opinion regarding Mr. Riles race.

FEYNMAN: Mr. Riles is a black man, as far as I am aware of.

INTERVIEWER: Our audience wonders what your statement on race relations and civil rights is.

FEYNMAN: I hope to govern alongside the best minds that California has to offer, regardless of their race. I come from the scientific world, where we promote the best people to the job. I don’t know how public servants usually do this, but I will continue using the methods I have seen working to produce the great technological developments of our era. I hope I have been candid towards your audience.

He was. For better or for worse, Feynman became closely associated with the ideals of equal opportunities and of racial integration. Unlike what had been thought, however, his always moderate position regarding the matter cost him little support, possibly because those disinclined in voting for a pro-Civil Rights candidate were already on the polls for Reagan. It did, however, bring the bulk of the African American vote to his side, a partnership that would become loyal through the remaining election. In November, more than 90% of polled black voters stated they had voted for him.

The other great demographic group that Feynman captured with this speech was the parents, who had until then polled mostly for Reagan. With his focus on education, Feynman was able to pull most of what would normally be a conservative group and bring it to his side, if not on as overwhelming numbers as the African-American vote, at least as a healthy majority; his statistics were also correct, which proved he created a great dent on Reagan’s numbers.

Education was a major point in favour of Feynman. Often, he brought familiar faces from Caltech and elsewhere in the scientific community, who gave speeches alongside him addressing the matter Feynman hoped to address in the particular rally, often regarding education and technology. For that reason perhaps, he never seemed to drop it throughout his campaign.
Well, this is one long chapter, and we are finally getting into the juicier parts of the election season, so I probably will be posting one chapter a week instead of the two.

And this was yet another chapter in which I had to, despite my dread, write a speech for Feynman. I really don't trust my skills in speech-writing, but I hope it wasn't too bad as to make the whole thing unbearable to read
Great to see a ingenuous education candidate for public office, one that really means it, instead of mouthing some education platitudes and not doing much. Seeing him make progress against Reagan--perhaps sending him back to acting--is GREAT.
I LIKE the speech! Writing a speech for someone else is REALLY hard!
Great to see a ingenuous education candidate for public office, one that really means it, instead of mouthing some education platitudes and not doing much. Seeing him make progress against Reagan--perhaps sending him back to acting--is GREAT.
I LIKE the speech! Writing a speech for someone else is REALLY hard!

Taking into account Feynman's career in education, it only seemed right for him to do so. The fact his only public service thus far (beyond, you know, the Manhattan Project) was on a school curriculum commission makes it all the more useful for him to talk and do something regarding education.

And thank you for the compliment on the speech, it is rather hard to write for somebody else, especially when trying to embody such a notable speaker as Feynman
Chapter 10: flowing talks on water
10. flowing talks on water

Water was one of the greatest non-issue when the election began. The pet projects of Pat Brown, who saw a dramatic increase in water-resource development during his governorship, this was one of the few works the Republicans did not relentlessly persecute out of the Brown administration, and it was for a good reason – they were widely popular and useful for the Californian people.

Perhaps it was for this very reason Feynman pressed this issue. Throughout August, some Californians wondered if the Professor had given in to a masochist trait, as he campaigned exclusively throughout what seemed to be the driest and hottest regions of the State, meeting with the agricultural communities of those regions, both those who suffered greatly due to the lack of water, and those whose sufferings had been relieved by the water projects. This took him throughout most of Southern California, which in fact made sense with the remaining of his campaign in that region.

The endorsement of Governor Pat Brown was very useful for the Feynman campaign at that point, as he was persuaded (some say with the help of Earl Warren) to give a speech on his work with water projects and, more importantly, on what remained to be done and how necessary it would be for a thorough mind, a scientific mind, to continue this legacy. This was an obvious nod to Professor Feynman, who enthusiastically took on the role of heir to Brown.

Having briefly studied engineering at MIT, and having worked in more technical projects during Project Manhattan, the Professor of Theoretical Physics got along surprisingly well with understanding the rationale of the water projects. He could study their plans, understand the calculations and, at some point, actually point out problems, ask questions and make suggestions. These demonstrations of practical knowledge gave him great credibility among the rural electorate, who hoped he would be capable and willing of pursuing the water projects that were vital for the enterprises and not fall to problems of corruption or sheer political stupidity.

Feynman was, in fact, often very enthusiastic about water. In many of his speeches throughout that Scorching August, as the media would call it and he later on adopt it, he talked with thrill about the ideal of California as the State of great projects and of making great networks of water and people, engineering the land to provide for all. One of the most memorable speeches of his, which would provide one of his campaign mottos, was the famous “Create Wealth” speech, given in San Bernardino.

“I am quite sorry for everyone who came out today to see me and talk to me. This is not a day to be outside talking. This is a day to be inside sucking on ice cubes. I have beginning to see why all the newspapers have been calling it Scorching August.

However, today we are here to speak about a very important thing. Some would call it the most precious material over this Earth. This wealth is none other than water. Water is of paramount importance for the wealth of a nation, and water will be necessary for the well-being and the growth of California as united and strong.

Water brings us together; it was in fresh valleys that civilisation began. Water allows us to grow crops, to build industries, to live in cities and form nations. Without water, there is nothing but devastation, poverty and death. I believe many in California still remember the dark days when droughts struck the nation; many Californians lived through them or are descendants of those who had to abandon their homes to try their luck here.

California has had the bless of water, but that blessing has not been universal. While it is abundant in some places, it is quite lacking in others. While some counties have water to spare, others can barely get a drop. That imbalance, created by the forces of nature, has created greater imbalances in our society. There are two Californias, one rich and another one poor, one well-watered and the other one stricken with drought. But in our hearts, we know ourselves to still stand as one people and one State.

It has been this fraternity among Californians that has given rise to many of the projects of solidarity towards our farmers. However, those same projects only mend a broken situation; more than provide sustenance, we must ensure all Californians are capable of providing for themselves. Our farmers need something much more precious than welfare pay checks – our farmers need water.

That has been the work of our Governor, whose efforts have been towards starting great projects that have already brought water from regions with a healthy supply of it and brought it to regions that have a lack. Each year, the area of California with water supplied by aqueducts increases, and as the aqueducts go so goes agricultural land, industrial sites and cities, flourishing where once nothing was said to grow. That is nothing shorter than a miracle.

You often hear of “Share Our Wealth” as a campaign slogan. That saying of course brings dissention, because the people who have to share their wealth to others feel cheated, while those who receive their wealth feel denigrated. And as, rather than provide security for the future, the welfare only gives temporary relief, nothing changes. It is clear such a system doesn’t work and will never work.

To say “Share Our Wealth” is to be unaware of an important part of the way the world functions. The resources of this world are not a pie that can only feed a certain amount of people. Our wealth does not need to only be divided. It can be grown in size, invested upon so that more individuals may get an even larger slice than there was before. What we need is that. We need to create our wealth before we think about sharing it. And that is what I propose we do.

Once California was a poor country. It was desertic and deserted, with few people living in this land, and those who did having little resources, for nothing flourished here. The forces of nature dictated that this land was to be forever poor. But then, civilisation came and with it came science, technology and the will of Man. All forces of Man were mustered and from this land a garden was created, capable of giving life to many great enterprises of Humanity.

Man has shaped this land more than Nature ever did. Man created the routes on which to travel here, the ports that gave us trade, dug the mines that gave us wealth and tilled the soils that gave us food. And then, when water was lacking, Man brought water from where it existed in abundance.

If we continue that work, the work of our forefathers, then the day will come when California knows no land that is deserted, and no field that is not cultivated, and no city that doesn’t thrive. If we continue to build the canals, the dams and the aqueducts, then we will continue to grow and prosper, to heights we had never before imagined.

Pat Brown began the trek I speak of, and did a marvellous job at that. I will continue his work, and finish what he started, and more I will add upon his legacy and build more than he was able to. I will summon experts who will study, draw and build and create great things that will make this land the breadbasket of our continent.

And now, if you excuse me, I would invite us all to come out of under the sun and go enjoy fresh water knowing that more is a-coming”

The speech was widely popular and repeated through the following weeks, gaining Feynman a great degree of popularity among the still afflicted counties, but also among those which had been greatly helped by the water projects.

Although Reagan was not at all opposing such projects, he simply did not focus too much attention on it, and, when confronted on the matter, he was less capable of answering the questions than Feynman was. The Professor also had the advantage of, when needed, bring actual engineers from a prestigious university to draw up and propose projects to help in specific local cases of water shortages. Many of the later water projects were inspired by those composed during the campaign trail.

Water was a deep concern of many Californians, especially in the Southern areas. His speeches surrounding that topic gave Feynman their trust, despite the traditional affiliation with the Republican Party. By the end of Scorching August, Feynman returned home to find that his polls continued to improve, denting into Reagan’s numbers, much to the latter’s frustration.
This is pretty cool. A great loss to physics, but it is a fun read and I think you really capture Feynman's voice well.

This is really cool. Although a loss for physics in one sense, for obvious reasons, what a gain for science in the long term, if he brings science to the White House instead of the superstition that so many others focused on.
This is pretty cool. A great loss to physics, but it is a fun read and I think you really capture Feynman's voice well.


This is really cool. Although a loss for physics in one sense, for obvious reasons, what a gain for science in the long term, if he brings science to the White House instead of the superstition that so many others focused on.

Fortunately, it's not as big a loss as it might have been since, by then, Feynman has already achieved most of his largest contributions to physics. And I believe that what would be missing can be compensated, and then some, by his influence bringing science to government and money to science. But you'll have to wait and see ;)
Chapter 11: reds vs blacks
reds vs blacks

There was, of course, a major weakness of the entire Feynman campaign, one that strangely coincided rather well with his consultants had made the prime topic to be addressed by Reagan through his campaign. Feynman still stood shaky on the accusations of having collaborated or at least had ties with communist spies, while Reagan argued vehemently to an end to the welfare State, linking it, of course, to communism. It made a nice link of implying Feynman wanted, through his support of welfare, ultimately establish a Soviet-style regime in California.

Feynman had faced such accusations on the part of Yorty before and had survived to tell the story. In fact, some stated that the Yorty campaign had given their investigative results over to Reagan’s. Earl Warren in particular was aware that, unlike the primaries, a clear response was needed for the charges not to be felt in November.

The accusations came first in early August, as the Scorching August campaign became a media sensation and the Reagan numbers began to decline. The newspapers were informed of the investigations the FBI had conducted on Feynman and how they had deprived him of the Presidency of the Science Advisory Committee, supposedly due to his ties with communist spies. The tone became one of ‘the federal government is against giving Feynman power positions’ and it was quite effective in creating scandal. If Washington didn't trust him, should California empower him?

The Feynman campaign dealt with this in three ways. Their first attempt at soothing the situation was to arrange a situation that had Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, whom Feynman had already indicated as a source of inspiration in his bid for governorship, have to travel to California, a situation probably arranged by Earl Warren, and had him agree to speak in Sacramento, with many State personalities including Warren and Feynman in attendance. The media was fast enough to take the bait and ask the question of whether he endorsed any particular candidate in the gubernatorial election.

Despite not liking not even a little the trap he had fallen on, Humphrey contemplated his chances and quickly decided that, for better or worse, Feynman had tagged him into this campaign, and that having an ally in the position of Governor could be useful later on. Taking that into account, he fully endorsed the Professor, speaking highly of his consideration for his work both in science and government and stating he fully trusted his abilities to have the State well-managed and growing. He also vehemently denied that he was under suspicion by the Federal government, pointing out the work he had done for the United States at the Atoms for Peace Conference, calling any accusation of the sort “slander promoted by saboteurs and paranoid minds”.

Although the endorsement did give some sense of credibility towards Feynman, especially in regards to his relationship with the federal government, it was far from enough to dispel the rumours that the Republicans continued to spread, creating virtual Red Scares across California. However, noticing how Eisenhower, who was a central piece in the controversy, having presided over the United States at the time of the alleged persecution, seemed quite uncomfortable talking about the events of the time, even when hounded around it by the media, the Feynman campaign announced a very special speaker in one of their rallies, Julius Robert Oppenheimer, at Berkeley. The renowned scientist was severely sick from throat cancer, but out of a deep sense of friendship towards Feynman, accepted to speak in the institute he had formerly lectured in.

His speech was short and painful, and focused on the role of science in society, with only a brief appeal to empowering scientists and having Feynman as governor. It did not matter anyway; his endorsement was not what was sought (except perhaps by Feynman himself, who had a deep respect for the man).

The intended result was accomplished, and that was to have the media focused on Oppenheimer’s story of persecution and redemption by honours of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, honouring him with the Enrico Fermi award, and with that go after Eisenhower for his now condemned oppression of the man and, by extension, by the parallel attempt at oppressing Feynman, thereby associating Oppenheimer’s redemption to his own. It was during the visit of Oppenheimer to California that Eisenhower said his famous “It was a mistake” reply when asked about the persecution of Oppenheimer conducted under his admnistration, that Oppenheimer left with an equally famous silence, before returning to Princeton and refusing to comment further on the matter, deeply embarassing the former President.

The strategy, despite working perfectly, was also not as effective as had been hoped, with Reagan only been affected slightly. Therefore, a third strategy was sought. Now, there is some debate whether this was actually a plot from within the Feynman campaign, or rather a mere fortunate turn of events carried from outside groups that happened to coincide the needs of the campaign. Perhaps the truth lies in the middle.

In any case, the third counter-attack against the “Red” accusation was essentially to throw a “Black” one in return. This refers to the accusations of parallelism to the Hollywood blacklist that, during the same years that Feynman alleged persecution took place, the film industry at Hollywood had been subjected to a strong censorship and ostracism by those accused to be aligned with communists, accusations which cost many entertainment professionals their careers due to forged accusations and simply due to political intolerance. Since 1962, when a court had decided that blacklisters were liable to account for professional and financial damage that was caused, the reign of terror had ended and by 1966 the ostracised professionals were back again at work, judged innocent by both the court of law and the court of public opinion, but never forgetting the wound caused to their career and reputation. And now that they saw the Reagan campaign crusade for the same cause that they had fought to rid themselves of, a movement erupted.

It began with an uproar and the publishing of the “Manifesto of the Unsilenced Eleven”, that was soon turned to broadcast and radio by eager talented artists (and would later on serve to inspire several motion pictures of the same name). The eleven it referred to, beyond mocking the Reagan campaign’s Eleven commandment that effectively imposed a self-censoring over criticism within the Republic Party, also referred to its authors, the famed Hollywood Ten, whose refusal to answer before the House Un-American Activities Committee started the blacklist, and John Henry Faulk, the radio show host whose lawsuit had broken the blacklist. Of course, Samuel Ornitz, screenwriter and member of the Hollywood Ten, was not alive in 1966, having died in 1957, but he was nonetheless listed as an author of the Manifesto because, according to his colleagues, “it was also his story”.

The Manifesto became a sensation, and the media quickly picked it up. It was especially interesting to them the irony of Reagan being broken by his own colleagues from Hollywood. In fact, the acting community quickly turned against Reagan, as the Manifesto became core material on the local ideology. The ten of the Eleven would often speak in Feynman rallies hence forward, endorsing him fully.

Despite still somewhat distrustful of the actors of Hollywood, the flooding of the media with pro-Eleven messages, and that, as an actor himself, Reagan wasn’t excluded when statements starting with “All Hollywood actors are…” served to severely weaken his campaign. His response was also quite lacking, as none of his campaign had prepared for such a turn. A later speech accusing Hollywood of betrayal, stabbing him in the back and “being dominated by Reds still” did not help either. It was a gaffe, and a great one at that.

In the end, this was perhaps the harshest battle of the entire campaign. Despite all foreign interventions, plots and careful narratives, the rising up of the Eleven is seen as being the defining point of the campaign, and the ultimate breaker of Ronald Reagan.
I love the way the campaign is going. Reagan associated with the blacklisting, fair or not, is a good twist.
I'm not disappointed by Eisenhower being embarrassed; he deserves it. I find some of his actions as president very questionable, specifically adding "under god" to the pledge, and not publicly condemning McCarthy. (NOT criticizing his actions as General Eisenhower!)
It looks like this campaign can put an end to Reagan as a politician before he really gets started :)
Chapter 12: my work here is done
my work here is done

As September came to an end, so did the vacation slot of the Supreme Court, which meant Chief Justice Earl Warren would be returning to Washington DC to carry out his official duties. A man who had been responsible for many of the successes of the Feynman campaign, many feared his absence could spell the end to the streak of victories that had come to them, especially as the momentous debate between the two candidates approached. Their clear lead still had time to see itself undone if they weren't cautious.

Warren’s departure was mimicked by another less physical separation; Eisenhower seems to have fallen out with the Reagan campaign, or perhaps it was the other way around, after his infamous Oppenheimer reply that had only served to harm Reagan. After that incident, the visits of Ronald and Nancy Reagan to Palm Desert became less frequent and shorter until they ceased completely after a few weeks, around the same time Warren left for Washington.

Eisenhower would spend his remaining time in California at his home, longing to return to Gettysburg, and not coming to speak in favour of Reagan, or to speak publicly at all, throughout his stay. Although never officially said, it was largely considered by the general public that his endorsement was void after this separation.

This left both campaigns somewhat orphaned; the great figures that had served as the “institution seniors” had abandoned the still very green candidates, returning their campaigns to their virginal condition in political victory. This affected the Feynman campaign much more than the Reagan one; Warren was a much more vital string in the movement than Eisenhower had ever been. He also happened to be more irretrievable, faraway in Washington.

Ultimately, their departure saw mostly stagnation more than anything. The greatest impact of Earl Warren was knowing what buttons to push to bring attention to themselves, and what doors to open to bring good settings in which to appear. Without him there to continue that work, and already having a healthy advantage on the polls, they attempted the least dangerous of moves – stalling.

The Reagan campaign continued focusing on their old messages, no longer attracting the attention of the media, as the message was already widely known and freshness was the key for the medium. Their attention drifted away to the most recent celebrity scandal in Hollywood and some bizarre news at faraway country towns with strange ways and strange things.

Stale October was the name later historians would give it (the media at the time was smart enough not to report on the lack of business to report about). It was strange that an election eve month, which was normally full of surprises and fierce struggles, was actually accomplishing a low point on election talks.

This uneventful turn of events would only end when, on the 2th of November, just six days before the election, the two candidates finally came face to face on televised debate, a last final struggle before the people went out to vote. To both sides, this was a crucial moment – Reagan still hoped he could outwit Feynman, trapping him by means of rhetoric, and make a comeback, while Feynman understood it was needed to bring focus back to the campaign, so that the people he had on his side would actually go to the polls and vote. He had taken a great gamble and it was time to see it pay off.
Ah, yes--Ronald Reagan--a master of words that say what his listener wants them so say--then "Alters the bargain," said in my best Darth Vader voice.
Chapter 13: the great debate
the great debate

On the night of November 2, 1966, millions of Californians tuned in their televisions or radios for the opportunity to hear speaking the two contenders to be their Governor. The main appeal in this election was that neither candidate could be described as being political whatsoever. One was a Hollywood actor and the other was a Caltech professor. Neither were exactly the characters one would expect contending for one of the most important positions in the United States.

The main question that the moderator felt needed to be answered was precisely around this factor. Being both inexperienced in political office, why should the people trust they held the skills for the position of Governor and that they should exercise them with competence and dignity.

Feynman was the first to be questioned.

“It is true. I am not a politician. I am a scientist. I am an educator. I am a father. But I am not a politician. And I hope I never become one. I believe that a scientific mind, a keen mind, a mind that seeks the truth and the solution to problems above all else, is the best of all possible minds one can have. I hope I never lose my sense of wonder and my persistence for answers, qualities that I deem have seen me advance in the scientific field above all others. For those are the same qualities that I hope will serve the Californian people, above all others.

My cooperation with the government of California has been insignificant, compared to the power that the position of Governor conveys, so I understand your concern. I would not employ a man without knowing if he could do the assigned job. My record is on bringing education to a higher standard and on creating new solutions to problems. I hope to continue to fulfil that record. I will bring the State to a higher standard and I will create new solutions to the problems a Governor has to face. We will build things. California’s greatest achievements is on the universities, the schools, the roads and the water works it has built. Those have provided us wealth and progress, making us the face of both science and arts in these United States.

I hope to continue that legacy. To answer your question, I would not say I am unexperienced. I am in fact quite experienced in all sorts of works I strive to accomplish. I just have a new way of looking at things, and that has been the quality that has always brought California forward. Thank you.”

Reagan’s answer to the same question had a very different tone.

“Mr. Feynman claims he is not a politician. He claims he will be different from our usual politicians, better than them. He is used to being the best. In the big leagues, the men of science, speaking about their strange equations, he is without a doubt a great man. But in the outside world, in this political world, he is neither great nor new, but a continuation of what has already been done.

He says he will be a new kind of Governor, and yet through his campaign he has received nothing but endorsements of the old guard. Earl Warren and Pat Brown look at him not as a breath of fresh air, but as the keeper of the stale old one. He speaks of creating wealth by increasing government projects, but does not see that what is draining our wealth is the government, the welfare bums and the political lobbyists who occupy positions as a matter of backroom deals. He promises nothing around those people, for he intends to keep them. After all, those are the people who had him elected among the Democrats.

I distance myself from any previous administration. I have seen their way of doing things and I don’t like it. In the last years, California has grown, and its most flourishing industry is the governmental one, employing more bandits and draining more money from hard-working Californians and their enterprises. In my tenure as Governor, I will see this trend inverted. I am a new man and I will do new things. And this State will prosper by them. Thank you very much for your support.”

The second question was one that would also go on to inflame the debate, possibly the point of it being asked in the first place. As it was, both candidates had spoken about educational issues, if under different lights, with Feynman making it a key point of his campaign the improvement of education in the State and Reagan making it a key point of his to control and end the disturbances to higher education by the rioters at Berkeley. As it was, the moderator found the people should know what was each of their plans to deal with the campus riots.

Reagan got to go first.

“That is a very good question, one that worries many people around this State, and one I have had the opportunity to discuss with many of them throughout this campaign. As I have said many times before, as Governor I will make sure to be strict with those looters and clean up the mess at Berkeley in the way the Democratic administration has shown itself unable and unwilling to have done.

Do you know what the problem with those students? They are spoiled. They are privileged. They are given the best education in the world, and they do not know to respect the people who give it to them. They disturb their teachers, their peers and the people whose work allows for them to be so educated. They don’t deserve the education they are getting, and they don’t have the right to take advantage of our system of education.

What I find more contemptable, more disrespectful to the people of this State about this whole Berkeley mess, however, is the attitude of those responsible with keeping order in the campus. Or lack of attitude shall I say? Their leniency has only allowed this wound to fester, and has the rioters believe they can do anything with impunity. This cannot stand. Clark Kerr has proven himself unfit to serve as President of the University of California. There is only one sensible thing to do, and you can be damn sure I will sack him.

These men, these professors, they have shown themselves incapable of seeing how things work in the real world. They have failed to act because they do not know how to handle this situations. They understand many things, I grant them that, but dealing with people, real people, that they cannot do. And neither can the current administration, for what they have proven in their unwillingness and inability to solve this problem. And I fear their new candidate is another one of the many who are powerless to solve this mess.”

Feynman seemed quite unphased with the very direct insult hurled towards him. He smiled at the audience while preparing to speak, answering the same question.

“As you can imagine, I have studied the problems at Berkeley very closely. As a professor at career and a student at heart, it is very close to me, what happens there. I know many of the people whose lives are in Berkeley and have been affected by the riots. To fix this crisis is something quite crucial to me.

I have come to understand the issue at heart in Berkeley is a problem at communication. It is quite understandable. We academics have trouble making ourselves understood. But I have met with Professor Kerr several times, and I can say he is a good man. He is a fine administrator, an excellent one at that, recognized around the world, and a crucial piece on the overall reform of our educational system. His actions at Berkeley had one clear intention – to mediate and build bridges between protesters and the authorities. To create a space for peaceful dialogue.

If there is something I love about California, is our dedication to free dialogue. It is what makes us great. Persecuted people have come here and flourished, be they pioneers, ranchers, farmers or even writers and actors like Mr. Reagan. California truly has fulfilled the destiny of the mother of exiles.

That is because in California we believe in dialogue instead of suppression. We believe that two minds finding solutions together are better than the two fighting for supremacy. And that is what made us great. That is what made our people great. That is what made our education system, as Mr. Reagan called it, the best one in the world.

The only indictment against Professor Karr is that he attempted to start a dialogue instead of suppressing the protests. For that most American of actions, he was persecuted as un-American, an unfair brand that many of great rank have already felt upon them.

I wouldn’t say the students are spoiled. I have met many college students through my years, and I can attest their motives may be somewhat difficult to understand. Many stories ought to be told at a more appropriate time. Scientific minds are odd, but they are fruitful if allowed to grow. An unmatched example would be that of Professor Einstein, a man who we have all come to respect and admire. I had the privilege to meet him and let me tell you, if he were still among us, he would be one of those people Mr. Reagan called for repercussions against. And yet he was a genial man without whom our country would not be as great as it is, and to whom we owe a lot.

To rampage against the students and faculty of Berkeley is to attack the heart of our science, the heart of our democracy. It is all I stand against. It is all California stands against. It is to send to waste our most precious resource – young minds that will shape the world.”

The debate would have more questions and points being made. Most, however, saw in that back and forth the heart of the session, as the two candidates struggled to win over the hearts of California unto their stand in a very particular matter that had shaken the State.

Most commentators would point to a Feynman victory. He had managed to hold his nerve, and to answer to the accusations being made by associating himself with the now popular victims of the past transgressions of the ardent blacklisters, with whom Reagan was deeply associated already.

Only fate would say the answer, on election night, November 8, 1966.
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