|Tom Hayden in April of this year|
Hayden burst out of the Midwest, not Haight-Ashbury. He cut his teeth on the Michigan Daily, not the East Village Other. He was a working-class Catholic from Royal Oak, Michigan, one of the outer rings of Detroit. To see him as a product of the counterculture gets it precisely backwards.Tom was welcoming to the ideas of the counterculture. And there was a great deal of overlap between "hippies" and "politicals." But Phelps characterizes his background correctly. And he offers this intriguing tidbit, "In our present raw moment there is something of comfort to be taken from Hayden’s biography as a radical who emerged from the parish of Father Coughlin, the bilious right-populist of his day. Are there, perhaps, future radicals among the young white male 'deplorables' taken in by today’s bilious demagogue?"
Hayden’s youthful trajectory points, rather, to the early New Left that began awakening in the stiflingly conformist atmosphere of the late 1950s, one whose radicalism was focused in thought and action aiming to surmount race, bureaucracy, and war — and not on the experimentation with hair, dress, music, and psychedelic mind expansion that captivated the hippie counterculture.
The hippies were by and large apolitical; Hayden and his kind were political from start to finish.
Dan Morain focuses on Tom's later career in Tom Hayden casts a final vote Sacramento Bee 10/23/2016:
I knew him during the final half of his 18 years in the Legislature, when he worked on the inside to bring about change. Hayden, who died Sunday, didn’t always win, and change didn’t come about as rapidly as he wanted. Hayden never became an insider. It wasn’t in his makeup. But he became a surprisingly effective legislator, even if his victories weren’t readily apparent.In an editorial, the Bee surveys his lifetime accomplishments (Hayden’s legacy of small-d democracy 10/23/2016):
In his early years, Hayden’s existence in Sacramento got under the skin of some Republicans, and a few Democrats. Assemblyman Gil Ferguson, an Orange County Republican and a U.S. Marine who since has died, tried to persuade the Assembly to block Hayden from being seated when Santa Monica voters first sent him to the Assembly in 1982. Later, some of his closest allies were Republicans.
In 1987, then-Speaker Willie Brown stripped Hayden of a committee chairmanship when Hayden tried to block Brown’s appointment of developer Mark L. Nathanson to the California Coastal Commission. Hayden was vindicated in 1993 when Nathanson pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. [my emphasis]
Long after the Vietnam War ended, Hayden made it his business to assert a role in whatever history he saw coming. In the 1970s, his and Fonda’s political organization helped fuel a wave of progressive candidates and causes: rent control, solar energy, no-nukes, environmentalism. In the 1980s and 1990s, he served as a state lawmaker, pushing small-d democracy in a period of rising plutocracy.Peter Dreier eulogizes
He acted globally, speaking at World Trade Organization protests; he acted locally, running for mayor of Los Angeles and advocating for restorative justice for juveniles in that then-gang-ravaged city. He was even an early exemplar for gender equity, pointedly sharing child rearing duties with Fonda and, after that marriage ended, with Barbara Williams, his third wife.
Tom in Tom Hayden Always Rocked The Boat The American Prospect 10/24/2016. He says of Hayden in 1968:
By the late 1960s, many radicals had begun to view the [Vietnam] war as an inevitable outcome of America’s empire building, lust for profits, and racism toward populations of color. Frustrated, some called for more militant tactics. Although Hayden often shared this perspective, he opposed the violence and bombings that some advocated (and a few perpetrated) and still had faith in the potential of electoral politics, particularly in Senator Robert Kennedy’s 1968 anti-war and anti-poverty campaign for president.Jeff Greenfield's short article on him starts with the RFK funeral, Tom Hayden, the Complicated Radical Politico 10/24/2016.
Kennedy’s assassination in June 1968 was traumatic for Hayden. At RFK’s funeral in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Hayden cried over the loss of the one politician he believed had the ability to unite the anti-war and anti-poverty movements, white workers and black militants. That summer, Hayden joined other activists in planning protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Earlier this year, I first read Tom's book, Street Wars: Gangs and the Future of Violence (2004). I posted a quotation from it here: Yes, street gangs have a social context 02/17/2016.
The New York Review of Books has Tom Hayden's 1967 article The Occupation of Newark (08/24/1967 issue) available for the public on its website. Hayden lived in the ghetto area of Newark during a major riot there, sparked off by police misconduct.
Truthdig is running previous pieces of Tom's work daily this week. Today's installment is a piece from 05/02/2006, Tom Hayden: Who Are You Calling an Immigrant?.