TONIGHT THE D.C. Republican Party will consider a motion to self-destruct: A minority-within-the-minority party is proposing that the local GOP committee withdraw its support from the D.C. voting rights amendment. A resolution, being pushed by a few members trying to attract the attention of presidential candidates, not only would wreck the already beleaguered nationwide ratification drive, but also would wreck the efforts of the local Republican rank-and-file to build a party capable of winning elections in the nation's capital.
This course is vigorously opposed by the local party's chairman, Paul Hays, and by its lone elected office-holder, Councilman Jerry A. Moore. It is being recommended by Henry A Berliner, an attorney who re-emerges every four years to head delegations to the GOP national conventions. Mr. Berliner argues that the amendment might be "a point of friction" between the GOP's presidential nominee and the local committee. That's a small point in the big picture; and not every GOP presidential contender opposes the amendment.
Chairman Hays, who has worked hard on behalf of the amendment, notes that District Republicans have a long record of support for full voting representation. In ballot questions in 1960, 1964 and 1968, local GOP voters overwhelmingly endorsed the idea. They recognized congressional representation not as some convoluted issue for intramural dispute, but a matter of rights for all residents that should transcend philosophical differences. In practical terms, too, optimistic Republicans could-and still do-look forward to fielding local candidates able to attract enough votes to represent the District in Congress. Committee members who share this hope should keep it alive by voting to reject any change in the local party's stand on this crucial question.