In his July 8 column ["Bludgeon From the New Right," op-ed], David S. Broder strongly criticized coverage in The New Right Report of the announcements by several major conservative groups that in 1980 they would not support any candidates who failed to take the lead now in fighting against ratification of SALT II.

Broder makes a strong case that the message conservatives are sending to senators is, "Vote right or we will knock you out." This "shillelagh school" of politics has no place, says Broder, in the dispute over SALT II, which he describes as "arguably the most important foreign-policy question to come before Congress in this decade."

Why not? Any successful system of representative government must hold legislators accountable for their actions. On June 14, leaders of several conservative groups joined Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.) in putting politicians on notice that conservatives would hold them accountable for their actions on this issue, which both sides agree involves national survival.

If Big Labor can threaten to defeat legislators who don't vote their way on provisions of labor law, those who believe this SALT II treaty would cripple U.S. ability to deter Soviet expansionism surely have a right and a moral duty to weigh into the treaty fight with all available political muscle.

Broder calls this "the 2-by-4 or mule-training school of educational psychology." Fair enough. The punch line of the old story about training a mule with a 2-by-4 is, "First of all you have to get the mule's attention." Conservatives have won the attention of many liberal politicians with the following statistics: Of the 15 U.S. senators who ran for reelection after voting for the Panama Canal treaties, eight were defeated and only seven were reelected. Of the nine senators who voted against the treaties and ran for reelection, all but one were returned to the Senate.

Not even Jimmy Carter would propose a treaty that would defeat 100 percent of the senators who voted for it. But the facts indicate that the American people may rise up and clobber most of the senators who vote for SALT II.

Like the canal treaties, Salt ii shows that the Carter administration doesn't understand (or care) that most Americans are fed up with having our country in retreat.

Perhaps senators should thank our newsletter for informing them about the series of steps conservative movement leaders are taking to intensify public opposition to the SALT II treaty. Surely some senators will find it useful to know what the political realities are.

The world would probably be a better place today if someone had been able to convince Neville Chamberlain that he was destroying his political career by trusting

Political survival, not making principled judgments, is all too often the top priority of modern politicians. Broder asks what the New Right thinks of the late Sen. Robert A. Taft Sr. as an example of senatorial conduct. For years, I have kept an original drawing of Taft (and one of Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr.) in an honored place on my office wall. Unfortunately, Bob Taft's unsusceptibility to political pressure was unusual - so unusual that his fellow senators felt impelled to erect a statue in his honor near the Capitol.

As long as we're talking about fairness in the SALT II fight, someone should ask if the treaty proponents are fighting fair. Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah) has a list of more than 600 federally funded, pro-SALT II speeches that have already been given by Carter administration spokesmen all across the country. Is this fair? Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) obtained from the General Accounting Office a listing of more than $600,000 spent by Carter sending teams on pro-SALT speaking tours in 1978 alone.

Is it fair that all military officers in uniform are required to support the SALT II treaty or to shut up? Is it fair that treaty proponents had total control of when Senate hearings began and who was scheduled to testify before the Foreign Relations Committee? Is it okay for Jimmy Carter to suggest that treaty opponents are warmongers? Is it fair for the president to be able to give lifetime federal judgeships to defeated senators like Paul Hatfield (D-Mont.), who was badly hurt by his pro-treaty votes on the Panama Canal? Is it fair for the president to have the power to grant or deny all sorts of pork-barrel projects to states of senators whose votes are in doubt on SALT II?

By openly announcing that the people will remember the SALT II issue in the 1980 elections, conservatives do run the risk that some treaty supporters will try to make acceptance of Soviet military superiority look like statesmanship in the face of a threat from the New Right. But conservatives don't expect to get votes of liberal senators who think that courage and wishful thinking are the same thing. It's the middle-of-the-roaders who worry most about being run over by an aroused electorate from either side.

Conservatives can only inform the American public of what is at stake and what the liberals are doing. Those eight liberal senators defeated last year may not agree, but, if a politician misjudges the voters, it's his own fault.