Can a candidate for the presidency run without kicking the stuffings out of the federal establishment he is so eager to join? And wouldn't it be nice if somebody campaigned that way?
Federal workers--who are turned into pointy-headed bureaucrats every four years--might be spared some grief next year if the Public Employes Roundtable can persuade the two major parties to promise, in writing, not to bad-mouth civil servants while trying to put their candidate in the White House.
The roundtable, formed last year to improve the image of government employes, plans to lobby key politicians of both major parties to include a pro-federal worker plank in their respective political platforms.
To save the politicians time, the roundtable, has written proposed platform language that either party could adapt to its use, with a few minor word changes.
The roundtable and other pro-civil service groups say that the anti-bureaucratic rhetoric in recent years has gotten worse with each campaign.
Candidate Jimmy Carter ran hard enough against "Washington" and the establishment enough to win and become part of it. Candidate Ronald Reagan outdid him in the 1980 campaign. Despite a last-minute pitch toward government workers--or perhaps because of it--Carter lost. Federal employes were not the major issue in the campaign, but their image suffered from attacks by both sides.
While most leaders of federal employes' unions plan to back the Democratic candidate (even if it isn't Walter Mondale), bipartisan groups such as the roundtable must consider the possibility that the Republicans may win. In any case, they would like to head off trouble at the pass. If they can do it, it should come as a welcome relief to the government's 2.6 million employes, who carry out policy more often than they make it.
The roundtable's proposed platform is worded so that just about anybody outside of Attila the Hun could live with it. It pledges the Democratic and Republican parties to support equal pay between government and industry; acknowledges that most of the fraud and abuse that is found in government is uncovered by civil servants who pass it on to Congress or the media, and says that the winner of the next election will consult with career employes about how the government works.
It is not a particularly revolutionary platform. But it would be revolutionary if both sides adopted it and tackled issues in government, rather than federal folks--the majority of whom just want to do a good job and be left alone.