"It's true," Guy Williams admitted. "I'm thinking about going into politics eventually, but I can't get involved in it right now," said the handsome star of CBS-TV's Lost in Space, "because neither the Democratic nor the Republican party seems right for me. You know, you need a base if you want to get into politics, and I can't see mine in either party. I think the only base for me lies in a whole group of people out there who want none of what's going on within either party. Most people call them hippies."
"How about running for president on a hippie ticket?" I asked him.
"A hippie ticket..." he mused appreciatively. The idea seemed to intrigue him. Then he shrugged, "Actually, you know, I'm not that way myself. I don't wear Ben Franklin glasses." He grinned as he added, "I do have a pair of boots on, but that's because I like to wear them! The superficial manifestations, they don't really matter."
"But in your heart you know you're hip," I observed.
"Marvelous!" he laughed. "Quote yourself into the article. I am associated mentally with these people, because I've been that way all my life in terms of questioning everything, of not accepting everything, an attitude which may appear far out to some people. To me it isn't, because when I see a whole group of people questioning everything as the hippies do, it's just normal. As a matter of fact, it's damn healthy! Even if they've withdrawn from society, that's healthy, too. For example, they have those giveaway stores in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, where the hippies hang out. You walk in, and if you need something you take it and go out. They barter. If you want to leave something, you do. Nobody takes advantage of the system. One takes a few items, another brings something in. Basically I like that."
"Many hippies are superficially unpalatable to most people. But not all. The ones in college who are working hard at an education and coming out with the withdrawal ideas are maybe not the same crowd that runs around with earrings. But earrings are okay too, if people want to wear them. And this isn't the first time in history that people have worn long hair! I think a man has the right to wear long hair if he wants to, and to dress the way he likes."
"Since you're an actor, you seem to have today's main qualification for high office, at least in California," I observed. "So do you think you could probably get elected?"
"Hopefully, yes!" he said. "I don't know how long I'd last, though. Because I'd say things that are not politic, do things that are not politic, simply because I'd think they were right. What would I fight against? I'd fight against baloney!"
"I like to think of hippies as the baloney-proof generation. The dissemination of nonsense just has to be stopped! Now, if it's not good politics to stop the baloney, then it's not, but you go ahead and try to stop it anyway, if you're the kind of politician I want to be. You speak plainly, you don't lie, and you don't worry about your career. Of course, if you take the baloney out of all the issues, you're left with very little. But the less left, the better. It might be a tiny little platform, but that's fine. The new group is bright and won't fall for the old clichés, anyway."
"If I were elected to office, I would act as though I never had to go up for election again. I wouldn't be afraid-- simply because I feel this is what the bright ones want. They don't want baloney. They want the truth."
"But are there enough bright people to get you elected?" I asked.
"I don't want to run on the basis that America's full of idiots. We've got our share, but we've also got our share of very bright people. And we've got our in-between people who should be more educated. Maybe a movement like this can raise the level of education about politics. Too many people forget that a citizen is a person, not just a consumer of goods. It's still possible to have prosperity without considering people as merely consumers. I believe most people are smarter than we think, and it's the bright young people of America that I especially want to reach."
"Let's get down to the specifics of your platform, as far as you can see things now," I told him. "How do you feel about civil rights?"
"The civil rights problem is the one thing that could destroy this country before anything else. The superficial things are simple, although desirable: A Negro has a right to go to school with whites, and to live wherever he can afford to. The real civil rights situation is that 10 per cent of the population is really alienated from the other 90 per cent. How to heal that split is what I still don't know, frankly. But certainly a practical start would be giving a better education to all Negroes so they can qualify for jobs-- and jobs that are more than degrading, meaningless tasks. That would be a long step forward making equal association possible between Negroes and whites."
"How do you feel about our being in the Viet Nam war?" I asked.
"It's very, very bad," Guy said. "I'm against our government's policy on Viet Nam. In fact, when I'm told about the Germans living in Germany before World War II who opposed Hitler even though they themselves weren't Jewish, I feel a kinship with that kind of spirit, right now. It was very easy to be anti-Nazi if you were Jewish-- at least your fellow Jews approved of your stand. But if you were a so-called Aryan German and were anti-Nazi anyway, then it was not a political conviction that was convenient. I'm ashamed of what we're doing in Viet Nam. I'm ashamed of it on a personal level, because it's being done in my name, as well as in yours. When I realize it's being done in my name, I am personally offended."
He added indignantly, "Worse yet, today we read in the papers that the government calls those who oppose the Viet Nam war unpatriotic. Our government seems to be trying to stifle dissent. Had there been more dissent in the early days of the Third Reich, Germany might not have been ruined."
I'm also very much against the fact that American boys are being killed needlessly in Viet Nam... because they're involved in a needless war."
"This whole tragedy arises in part from that day when Congress gave the administration carte blanche to widen the Viet Nam war at its discretion," Guy said. "Since then, the whole size and scope of the war have gotten out of hand, and Congress and the people now seem powerless to do anything about it."
"Well, what would you do about the Viet Nam war if you were in office?" I asked.
"I think you could stop it in 10 minutes--or else find out for sure that the other side doesn't want to stop it," he said firmly. "It's a question of how long it takes to make a phone call or a trip to say, 'Let us now stop, let us now talk,' without any baloney! And you make it quite clear that you're the guy who's saying this-- and that you're big enough to back it up. What the hell, you've got all the power-- the rockets and the napalm bomb-- you've got all that going for you, so you can afford to take a posture of weakness, if you want to call it that, although to me, it's a posture of great strength of character. You can afford this. And if you're really rebuffed, at least the world knows where you stand."
"What would we offer to give?" I asked.
"Well, my personal feelings are that if they want to become unified under Ho Chi-Minh, it's their country and they can do it. And it doesn't scare me one bit, not one bloody bit. The friends we would make would way offset the fact that, possibly, the government would be a Communist government. And certainly our relationship with that government would be better than it is now."
"But who's going to decide if they want to be unified under him? Would you favor free elections throughout Viet Nam?" I asked.
"If everybody took their hands off and let the people decide, they probably would vote for Ho Chi-Minh, because he's like George Washington. He kicked the French out," Guy said. "And I think if we had a situation like that in America, we'd vote for the guy that got us our initial freedom. Okay, and if that happens, fine. As I say, I think the benefits to us would outweigh any disadvantages."
"That view will certainly be less than popular with a lot of people in this country," I noted. "What are some other views you have that might be controversial? For instance, how do you feel about the whole area of personal freedom?"
"Personal freedom is a very touchy thing with me. I feel that's possibly one of the reasons I'm an actor. An actor or anyone else in the arts has a great deal of freedom, compared to someone in a corporate structure. It's a kind of freedom that's not available to most people. And I would try to make more personal freedom available to my constituents...not only through laws if necessary, but by example, by living as free a life personally as I can. If you set an example, then the people who support you become heirs of this. In other words, they become more personally free because they are being represented in that manner."
Among the laws that Guy would favor, in order to increase personal freedom, is a law legalizing abortion "under any circumstances," he told me, "because the person whose body it is should have the right to say what to do with the body, with her own personal self, and that includes what's in the body. In other words, I think abortion should be up to the person. Anyway, this is the day of the Pill, so it's not a problem anymore, really.
"What about marijuana?" I asked. "As I recall, the last time we talked, you said it should be legalized."
"I think you should have the right to go to hell in a wheelbarrow if you want," Guy declared, "in any department. You should have that right. And if you don't choose to abuse yourself or whatever, you don't have to. Abortion should never be compulsory and it should never be outlawed. Similarly, I do think marijuana should be legalized."
"What about LSD?"
He frowned. "I don't know. I wonder about a lot of the things that people bring up against LSD. I think there's a lot of ignorance there. If LSD is absolutely harmful, then it should be regulated. But with the way we're told things, I don't know if it's true or not. I think it should be studied more. The hysteria should leave, and the practical looking at it should begin."
"I think gambling should be legal, too. When I was in Europe, I did a lot of gambling, a lot of roulette-wheeling. I enjoy the game and I don't feel that I was corrupted in any way. I'm also for removing censorship, all censorship!" he added.
"All the taboos we brought over on whaling ships are out, they're just little veils of ignorance that have to be lifted. When that's done, it creates a nice, free society where you can then start to grapple with the real problems that are going to be left, and they're always there. But if you have that healthy, free, investigative society that I'm after, then, when the big problems do arise, it's like a grown-up handling them, instead of a child. Then you start with a country of adults facing adult problems in an adult way."
"What are the adult problems?" I asked.
"One problem in this country is our political view of the world. If we are an anti-Communist country, then there's a much better way of being anti-Communist than being restrictive. If you really have a bill of goods to sell here, as opposed to that other bill of goods, then you should show people that our way is okay... and then you have nothing to fear. In other words, if you can make a showcase out of this system, as they are making a showcase of theirs, and you fight one idea with another and are grown up about it, you've got a good chance. You don't even have to win. You come to this arrangement: You want to be that way? Fine! We want to be this way. Fine! And you don't worry about it."
"But that's what we have now with Russia. Co-existence," I reminded him.
"Yes, but you see, the holdover of the old way is what got us into Viet Nam. It's this insane fear of somebody else doing something we don't approve of. So you get into a situation where in a sense what you're almost saying is, 'What you had with the French was better than what we're saving you from.' And they know that's not true. So we wind up backing colonialists."
"There's no mystery why they spit at Mr. Nixon in South America. When we keep people in office if they'll promise that they won't become Communists, we stop there. We don't go further, asking, 'Well, what will you do? Are you going to take your people's freedom away? Are you going to take all that dough we send and spend it on yourself?' We don't ask that. We just say one thing: 'Promise you won't be a Communist.' And they say, 'You bet, baby!' What kind of nonsense is that? That's certainly no way to fight Communism. In fact, that'll promote it, as it did in Cuba."
He sighed dejectedly, then cheered up as he declared, "But I think the whole scene will change when the younger generation, the bright young people I've been talking about, come into their own and become voters."
"And when they do, you want to be running for office?"
"I feel if I were in politics, I could communicate with them more easily than with any other group," he answered, hedging a bit.
"So you would like to go into politics eventually and quit acting?"
"I suppose so. It's hard to tell how the years will unfold for me and what I'll be doing, but I'd like to. And if I were in politics, these are the people I would rather contact as a politician. Call them hippies or what you will, the bright young people of today."
He grinned as he added, "But first you have to throw all the nonsense out. Cut through all the baloney, and then there's unlimited possibility for progress!"
Silver Screen Magazine, 1967