by OREN ROOT, JR.
IN VIEW of the not unlikely prospect that the Republican Party will return to full national power next January, it is probably not an overstatement to assert that the whole world is trying to assess the effect of that occurrence, if in fact it comes to pass. The anxiety and the hope which revolve about the question of what the Republican Party will do with its power are accentuated by the fact that nearly sixteen years have passed since it was put to the test of national leadership, so that nobody under thirty-six years old has ever in his adult life known the Republican Party in any other role than that of the Opposition.
The views and objectives of Governor Dewey are already known on many issues and will become even clearer as the campaign progresses. But no President can move beyond the area where his own party will support him. This is particularly true of a Republican President, for while the Democratic Party has most often been the party of great popular leaders, such as Bryan, Wilson, Alfred E. Smith, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the Republican Party it has generally been the party which has ruled. When Theodore Roosevelt felt he could no longer operate within the restraints of the party, he broke from it; and when Wendell Willkie defied those restraints, the party virtually repudiated him.
Faced with the likelihood of Republican victory, there are those whose pessimism and fears are unbridled. The Republican Party, they say, has always been the party of reaction, of isolation, and of the “interests.” It has shown neither understanding nor leadership in matters of domestic reform or in the area of foreign affairs. If it returns to power, these people lament, we can be sure of four years of labor-baiting, of defaults in our international responsibilities, of excessive influence by the great corporations, and perhaps even of attacks upon the freedoms inherent in the Bill of Rights itself.
Others are more hopeful, and some even assert that only the Republican Party is equipped by tradition and disposition to bring to their full fruition the great domestic and international undertakings upon which the peace and prosperity not alone of the United States but of the world depend. These people point out that the Republican Party, like all organizations and all individuals, has had its strong periods and its weak periods; that in its strong periods it has not only initiated reforms in domestic matters and assumed leadership in foreign matters, but has done these things in such a way as to assure their effectiveness, which the Democratic Party has not; and finally, that whatever the weaknesses of the Republican Party at one time or another since 1920, it is today at the threshold of one of its strong, indeed one of its great periods.
There is much in the record to substantiate the hopes and assertions of this latter group. The Republican Party was of course founded on an issue of radical reform — the containment and, as its position eventually developed, the abolition of slavery. This objective was carried out not only through the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, but in succeeding years through the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, which in the aggregate were certainly the most radical advances in American constitutional government since the founding of the Republic. There followed a period of relative stagnation, brought about largely by too long and too secure a term of office, until with the turn of the century the party came into what undoubtedly stands as its greatest era.
An early indication of what was to follow can be found in the passage in 1890, under the Republican administration of Benjamin Harrison, of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which to this day is the cornerstone of the structure of governmental discipline of monopolies. But the full panoply of Republican leadership was reserved for the advent a few years later of six titans whose intellects and energies guided the party and the nation until the party split and lost power in 1912. The first twelve years of the twentieth century were peculiarly the era of Theodore Roosevelt, John Hay, Elihu Root, William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, and Henry L. Stimson, In those twelve years, this group of six men included two Presidents of the United States, one Vice-President, two Governors of New York, two Secretaries of State, three Secretaries of War, one United States Senator, and one Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to say nothing of Hughes’s later nomination for the Presidency and his tenure as Secretary of State and as Chief Justice, or of Stimson’s later tenure as Secretary of State and his return, under Franklin Roosevelt, as Secretary of War.
In domestic affairs, this Great Era of the Republican Party saw the adoption (in the Taft administration) of the Federal personal income tax (the Sixteenth Amendment) and the Federal corporate income tax, as well as the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment providing for the popular election of Senators. In this period the Department of Labor was established and aggressive programs for conservation of natural resources were launched. It was the period of the fight within the party against the great bosses, Platt in New York Boies Penrose in Pennsylvania, and others, and of the battle for the direct primary as an instrument for transferring party power from the bosses to the people.
In foreign affairs it was the period of the Open Door Policy in China; of Secretary Root’s trip around South America — the first such trip by any American Secretary of State; of Roosevelt’s leadership in the Treaty of Portsmouth and his participation at the Algeciras Conference; of the building of the Panama Canal; of the sending of the Fleet around the world; of the establishment of constitutional government in Cuba and the Philippines. Whatever one may say about the Republican Party in those days, certainly it was lacking neither in imagination nor in leadership; it was neither reactionary at home nor isolationist abroad.
The Republican Party was then, as it is now, essentially a conservative party. Its thinking began then, as it does now, with a substantial acceptance of the status quo. But there was a powerful impulse toward such improvements and reforms as could be brought about without risking the basic structure of our government and therefore the ultimate usefulness of the reforms themselves. The tendency to reform was not alone a matter of intellectual conviction on the part of men strong both in intellect and conviction, but it had about it a certain noblesse oblige. In 1912, Stimson wrote to Theodore Roosevelt: “To me it seems vitally important that the Republican Party, which contains, generally speaking, the richer and more intelligent citizens of the country, should take the lead in reform and not drift into a reactionary position,”
Six years before, T.R. had written in similar vein, but in more pungent Roosevelt style, to Philander C. Knox. Unless the Republican Party could show “the wage-workers that we are doing justice,” he wrote, “we shall some day go down before a radical and extreme democracy with a crash which will be disastrous. ... It would be a dreadful calamity if we saw this country divided into two parties, one containing the bulk of the property owners and conservative people, the other the bulk of the wageworkers and the less prosperous people generally; each party insisting upon demanding much that is wrong, each party sullen and angered by real and fancied grievances. The friends of property, of order, of law . . . must realize that the surest way to provoke an explosion of wrong and injustice is to be short-sighted, narrow-minded, greedy and arrogant, and to fail to show in actual work that here in this republic it is peculiarly incumbent upon the man with whom things have prospered to be in a certain sense the keeper of his brother with whom life has gone hard. ...”
The same year, defending Roosevelt at a Union League Club dinner from the allegation that he was not “safe,” Elihu Root spoke these words: —
He is not safe for the men who wish government to be conducted with greater reference to campaign contributions than to the public good. He is not safe for the men who wish to draw the President of the United States off into a corner and make whispered arrangements, which they dare not have known by their constituents. But I say to you that he has been . . . the greatest conservative force for the protection of property and our institutions in the city of Washington. There is a better way to protect property, to protect capital, to protect great enterprises than by buying legislatures. There is a better way to deal with labor, and to keep it from rising into the tumult of the unregulated and resistless mob than by starving it, or by corrupting its leaders. That way is, that capital shall be fair . . . fair to the consumer, fair to the laborer, fair to the investor; that it shall concede that the laws shall be executed; that its treatment of the laborer shall be so fair that the reasonable and more intelligent men among the laborers of our country shall have their hands held up. . . . Never forget that the men who labor cast the votes, set up and pull down governments, and that our government is possible, the perpetuity of our institutions is possible, the continued opportunity for enterprise, for the enjoyment of wealth, for individual liberty, is possible, only so long as the men who labor with their hands believe in American liberty and American laws.
THOSE who look with alarm on the possibility of Republican victory next November, however, are not persuaded by the history and philosophy outlined above. Granting the imagination and accomplishments of the Republican Party on the slavery issue and in the Theodore Roosevelt era, the pessimists say, the voters of the United States and the people of the world are confronted not by the party of 1860 or of the first decade of this century, but by the party which over most of the past sixteen years has made a record which is entirely inconsistent both with its earlier greatness and the needs of today. Undoubtedly there is much validity in that argument. It is one which cannot be wholly met. But it can be explained and modified in such manner as to hold out hope for the future. In addition, the issue is not between the Republican Party and some ideal and perfect party, but between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, and on that issue the Republicans of today can make a very real bid.
After 1932 the Republican Party went into opposition in both the upperand the lower-case sense. Virtually every Republican leader became convinced that the New Deal and all its works were the greatest disaster which ever came upon the country. They fought with all their forces against almost every piece of New Deal reform legislation. Their general attitude can best be recaptured by looking back at the preamble of the 1936 Republican platform. Party platforms are not noted for their reserve in criticism, but even by accepted standards the condemnation contained in the 1936 document was strong. “For three long years,” it said, “the New Deal administration has dishonored American traditions. . . . The New Deal administration . . . has insisted on the passage of laws contrary to the Constitution. ... It has dishonored our country. ... It has bred fear and hesitation in commerce and industry. ... It has secretly made tariff agreements with our foreign competitors, flooding our markets with foreign commodities. ... It has destroyed the morale of many of our people. . . .” The last weeks of the campaign of 1936 were featured in New York by a daily column which invariably began by pointing out to its readers how many days then remained “to save the American Way of Life.” Protest against the New Deal program in those days was absolute, uncompromising, and largely futile.
In foreign affairs the opposition was hardly less violent and more nearly successful. In 1940, in spite of the support given to the measure by their Presidential candidate, a majority of Republicans voted against the Selective Service Act. In March, 1941, a majority in the Senate opposed the LendLease Act, although in the House the Republicans favored it nearly two to one. Eight months later, by a vote of three to one in the Senate and six to one in the House, the Republicans refused to go along with the repeal of the restrictive provisions of the Neutrality Act. In August of that same year, four months before Pearl Harbor, the Republican vote on the extension of Selective Service was in the negative by more than six to one in the House and by nearly two to one in the Senate.
It can be said with some assurance — and it must fervently be hoped — that the almost incredible myopia of the Republican leadership, both in its estimate of the world crisis and in its attitude toward those New Deal reforms which all leaders of all parties have now accepted, was due primarily to Roosevelt-blindness. That is, their distrust of Roosevelt was so great (a distrust, it must be added, in which many non-Republicans joined) that everything he advocated became ipso facto bad in their eyes; so great that, even now that he is dead, the suspicions of twelve Roosevelt years attach themselves to his Democratic successor. While this does not justify the myopia, It does give ground for belief that the symptoms will disappear when the Republican Party itself takes over the executive branch of the government.
EVEN in those days of uncritical opposition, however, the Republican scene was not all dark. There were outstanding Republicans, such as Stimson and Knox, who at an early date saw clearly the urgency of the foreign situation. For several years before 1940, in personal statements and private activities, these two statesmen lent the weight of their prestige and abilities to the general foreign policy of the Administration. In June, 1940, they were offered and they accepted positions in Roosevelt’s cabinet. Many Republicans less prominent, some in office but most not, gave similar support in smaller ways. But the great exception to the prevailing Republican position, the man to whom the country and his party owe on that account a very great debt, was Wendell Willkie.
In the summer and fall of 1940 the military plight of the British Commonwealth, then standing alone against the fury of Nazi Germany, was so desperate that the United States government could not safely await the event of the election before taking steps of assistance and accelerating its own military preparations. Yet two of the measures most desperately needed, the transfer of fifty overage destroyers to Great Britain and the passage of Selective Service, were so charged with political dynamite that to propose them in the midst of the campaign seemed to many to court disaster. The way for action was cleared when, in response to careful feelers, Willkie responded that he would not attack either proposal if made. In the face of immense pressure to the contrary from advisers within the Republican Party, he was as good as his word and neither of these issues was important in the campaign.
It seems not too much to say that by that decision alone Willkie made himself an important if not a decisive factor in the destiny of his country, for one hardly dares to estimate the effect of a four-month delay in either of those measures. Later, in his famous “Loyal Opposition” speech which followed his defeat, he set the tone of minority activity on a level many planes above where it had previously been, while in his visit to blitzed Britain, and in his subsequent dramatic testimony on behalf of the Lend-Lease Bill, he bore out in action the theories he had verbally laid down.
In taking the positions which he did, Willkie not only performed a service to his country but he kept alive within the Republican Party itself the embers of its greatness. Because of his leadership, many other Republicans were encouraged to take positions which otherwise would have been more difficult for them to assume. Because of his prestige as titular leader, Willkie kept the Republican Party from going isolationist as a party.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Republican Party has come a long way since 1940. In the foreign field not only did the party go along on the Marshall Plan but most of the real leadership in Congress was in the hands of such men as Vandenberg and Lodge in the Senate and Herter in the House. Certain Republicans later tried to sabotage it by cutting the appropriations, but the broader view finally prevailed. The Republicans supported the first Greece-Turkey aid program by decisive majorities in both houses of Congress. In 1945 they opposed extension of the reciprocal trade program by more than twenty to one in the House and by a majority in the Senate, but by last June they had modified their position to the extent of authorizing a continuation of that program, albeit in somewhat truncated form.
In domestic affairs, most of the many Republican state administrations have been progressive and effective. Outstanding examples are the adoption of fair employment practices legislation in four Republican states, led by the State of New York. The record for progressive legislation in Congress, at least during the regular session, was not so good as one might wish, but that can be explained in part by the tremendous pressures of other important legislation, which caused the Republican leadership in the Senate to fear the delays involved in a long fight over controversial measures. It is an interesting fact that Senator Taft, largely regarded as an archconservative, was the sponsor of legislation authorizing Federal aid to housing, health, and education which, while not adequate to satisfy the hundred per cent New Dealer, is a long step ahead of the Republican attitudes on similar measures prior to the war. On the other hand, it must be admitted that each of these bills was effectively blocked or superseded in the House, where the Republican leadership by and large is deeply conservative. Whether any legislation of moment will come out of the special session is not discernible as this article goes to press.
IT SEEMS clear, then, that the Republican Party has had its great days and its bad days; that in this day it has its men of vision and leadership and its men of little minds. As one faces the possibility of Republican triumph on election day, which tendency seems more likely to prevail? Will the Republican Party of 1949 to 1953 be essentially the party of Theodore Roosevelt, Root, Stimson, and Willkie? Or will it be the party which so completely lost the confidence of the country between 1930 and 1940? Will it be the party of Vandenberg, Dulles, and Herter in foreign matters, or the party which sought to cripple the Marshall Plan by cutting the appropriations? Will it follow the lead of Taft in matters of housing, health, and education, or of those who opposed and killed his bills on such matters, characterizing them as “socialistic”? Will it listen to Ives, Morse, Javits, Saltonstall, Lodge, Fulton, Smith of New Jersey, and many others on social legislation, or will it lapse back into the philosophy of the framers of the 1936 platform, many of whom are still in power?
To the extent that the proceedings of the Convention last June can be looked to for the answer, there is ground for substantial optimism. The Convention followed, it will be remembered, directly upon the Congressional battle over the proposed cuts in the appropriations for the European Recovery Program. The division between the Old Guard, isolationist wing of the party and the forward-looking, internationalist wing of the party was clearly defined on that great issue as the leaders and delegates met in Philadelphia. It looked as though there would be a head-on collision and a struggle for control between the two groups. As it turned out, the triumph of the enlightened point of view was so swift and so decisive on all fronts that the anticipated struggle never developed at all.
The platform, hammered out under the leadership of Senator Lodge, was a clear victory for the progressive view. Its keynote lies in the words of Lincoln quoted in the text: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.” The inclusion of those words in and of itself represents a vast advance over the philosophy of the platform of 1936, and even of the plat form of 1944.
Beyond that, the platform endorses the principle of the Marshall Plan and of reciprocal trade. It gives qualified support to Federal aid for slum clearance and low-cost housing, thus specifically repudiating the Republicans in the House who killed the Taft-Ellender-Wagner Bill. It favors extension of Social Security and strengthening of Federal-state programs for hospital and health facilities. It contains a number of weasel phrases, to be sure, such as “consistent with the vigorous existence of our competitive economy, we urge . . .”and “At all times safeguarding our own industry and agriculture, and under efficient administrative procedures for the legitimate consideration of domestic needs, we shall support. . .”
But phrases of that sort are unavoidable in documents representing a synthesis of views, and, taken all in all, this platform contains fewer than most.
The issue between Dewey and the candidates who opposed him was more personal than ideological, but it is significant that, among those who received anything more than a handful of votes, only Taft could be considered in any way to be identified with the Old Guard, and even Taft, as has been indicated, is actually not so conservative as he is usually portrayed. Governor Dewey himself appears to have put entirely to rest his pre-war doubts on foreign policy and is today a consistent supporter of the Vandenberg point of view. He has strongly endorsed the principle of economic aid to Europe and to China, he publicly advocated restoring the full Marshall Plan appropriations and he called for the extension for three years of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act.
His principal adviser on foreign matters is John Foster Dulles, whom it is expected he will name as Secretary of State. Dulles’s public activities over a period of twenty years as a representative of the United States government at half a score of international meetings, including the Council of Foreign Ministers meetings in London and Moscow and meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, and his private activities in the Federal Council of Churches and as Chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, qualify him as one of the most distinguished experts in international affairs in the country.
In domestic matters, Dewey has been a supporter of civil rights legislation in the State of New York and has sponsored a veterans’ housing program which even his enemies have been unable successfully to attack. In his last gubernatorial campaign he secured the benevolent neutrality of the New York State Federation of Labor and is reputed to be still on friendly terms with that organization. In his pre-Convention campaign he vigorously contended for what is generally regarded as the liberal view on the subject of the proposed outlawing of the Communist Party.
There are those whose distrust of Dewey is so deep that they keep their fingers crossed even when he is assuming positions of which they approve. These people feel that he is essentially a follower of polls and that he is guided more by expediency than by principle. If that be true, then the progressive positions taken by Dewey in his pre-nomination campaign are further evidence of how far the Republican Party has advanced since 1940. If it be not true, and Dewey will really fight for the progressive principles he now advocates, then perhaps we are indeed on the threshold of another great Republican era.
The liberal and international tendencies of the platform and the identification of Governor Dewey with the progressive wing of the party were further reinforced at Philadelphia by the selection of Governor Warren as the candidate for Vice-President instead of one of the less enlightened gentlemen whose names were proposed. And even the choice of Hugh Scott as Chairman of the National Committee, although engineered in part by Mr. Grundy and Senator Martin, is not nearly so much a concession to old-line Pennsylvania politics as is generally supposed. Representative Scott voted for extending the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act and for Greek-Turkish aid; he supported extension of rent control; he voted for the Anti-Poll-Tax Bill and for the House bill on displaced persons, which was substantially more equitable than the Senate version. Most impressive of all, perhaps, he signed the petition to discharge the Banking and Currency Committee from further consideration of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner Bill, thus aligning himself with the liberal forces on one of the most controversial issues before the House. The selection of Herbert Brownell as campaign manager is evidence that the campaign will be conducted on a level of integrity consistent with the best political traditions.
Remembering, as one must, that the Republican Party is the conservative party in the United States and docs not pretend to be anything else, the results at Philadelphia give great hope that modern Republicans have not forgotten that conservatism and standpattism are not identical, and that the only way to conserve what is best in our system is to see to it that that system constantly reforms itself in terms of the needs of the times.
THE transcendent issue for the Republican Party, as for all parties and all people, is of course the issue of world peace. From the point of view of its own political fortunes, however, as well as from the point of view of the national welfare, there are two groups of our citizens which present to the Republican Party a challenge of particular importance. These are labor and the Negro.
The record of the Republican Party on the issue of slavery and the Southern influence within the Democratic Party combined for many decades to assure the Republican Party of almost unlimited Negro support at the polls. After the enthusiasm of the early post-Civil-War period died away, the Republican Party largely forgot the Negro, but the reputation acquired in that period was so great that it lived on by sheer inertia. Besides, there was no alternative. If the Republican program for the Negro consisted largely of reminding him of the past, was there any more to hope for from the Democrats?
Por many years the Democratic Party could not answer that question. But in 1932 the answer came from Franklin Roosevelt, and it came with a bang. Roosevelt became the champion of the “Forgotten Man,” and many Negroes were to be counted in the desperate millions which went to make up that figurative individual. Roosevelt was the friend of the worker, and few Negroes were anything else, except for those who wished to work and could not. Finally, Roosevelt preached equality for the Negro as no President had ever done before. The record indicates that he did very little about it and that what he did was often done under great pressure, as in the establishment of the wartime Fair Employment Practices Commission in the face of threats by A. Philip Randolph to stage a march on Washington which might have seriously affected the whole industrial effort of the nation. But the Negroes felt that Roosevelt’s heart was with them, a feeling which Mrs. Roosevelt substantially abetted by her own powerful words and acts. In any event, the colored voters deserted the Republican Party en masse after 1932 and became in many great urban centers one of the most reliable bases of Roosevelt’s electoral support.
Realizing the political calamity involved in the loss of Negro support, and that even Roosevelt could not compel the Democratic Party actually to do anything important for the Negro, the Republican Party set about regaining the colored vote. The 1936 platform favored “equal opportunity for our colored citizens.” It pledged support of their “economic status and personal safety.” In 1940 the platform promised that “our American citizens of Negro descent shall be given a square deal. . . . Discrimination . . . must cease. . . . Mob violence shocks the conscience of the Nation and legislation to curb this evil should be enacted.” By 1944 the zeal of the plank makers had advanced to flat promises of support for anti-lynching legislation, for a constitutional amendment abolishing the poll tax, and for a permanent Federal Fair Employment Practices Commission. In Philadelphia last June the promises of the 1944 document were substantially repeated.
From platform to platform the pledges were repeated or strengthened, but all in all the actual record of the Republican Party in the last decade with respect to this vast American minority is not inspiring, at least on the national level. Large numbers of individual Republicans have espoused the cause of the Negro with great conviction and the record on legislation setting up fair employment practices in several Republican states is good, as has been indicated. But the party leadership at the national level does not appear to have grasped the immense significance of the matter. There are even some who say that inasmuch as most of the colored vote will probably go to Wallace in 1948, it will be effectively removed from the Democratic column and why should the Republicans worry about it. What these gentlemen overlook, even from their own “practical” point of view, is that it will be increasingly difficult to sustain our free, capitalistic system in a country 10 per cent of whose population is excluded from the benefits of that system, and increasingly difficult for a country which discriminates cruelly against its own colored citizens to assume international leadership in a world more than 50 per cent of whose population is colored.
It must of course be remembered that the principal opposition to legislation helpful to the Negro minority is still Democratic opposition. Both the Anti-Poll-Tax Bill and the Anti-Lynching Bill passed the Republican House during the regular session, whereas in the Senate (where the Southern Democratic filibuster is always a threat) the IvesFulton Bill, which would have prohibited discrimination in employment, did not get beyond a theoretical place on the calendar. One does not have to be cynical, however, to feel that at least one reason the Republican leadership allowed the two bills to pass the House was that they felt confident they would never pass the Senate. Certainly most Negroes who follow such matters feel that way, and it will be difficult for the Republican Party to convince the average Negro voter to the contrary.
JUST as at one time the Republican Party commanded the support of a majority of the Negroes, so it once could count on the votes of most of the working people of the country. This labor support was brought about in part by the direct and indirect influence of employers upon their employees in days when the working man had little power to resist such influence, but it was also occasioned by a real conviction on the part of many workers that their own self-interest was tied in with protective tariffs and the prosperity of the corporations by which they were employed. The almost continuous rise in the standard of living in the United States and the almost unbroken trend of industrial growth and prosperity from the Civil War to 1929 tended to keep the majority of laboring men reasonably conservative. The radical movements of the Populists and of Bryan were largely agrarian and Western, and except when the Republican Party split in 1912, it was rare for the Democrats to carry a great industrial state.
All that was changed by the depression of the early thirties, by the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, and by the growth and development of union power. From 1933 until Roosevelt’s death, the Democratic Party had close to the unanimous support, at the national level, of the leaders of organized labor, and where individual leaders supported a Republican, as Lewis did in 1940 and Hutcheson of the Carpenters on that and other occasions, it is doubtful that more than a small minority of their rank and file went along with them. Through all the early years of the New Deal, legislation friendly to labor rolled out of the Democratic Congress and Administration. The Republicans fought it in Congress and they fought it in the courts. As late as 1944 they made a national issue of labor influence within the Administration, by publicizing the “clear it with Sidney” directive which Roosevelt was alleged to have sent to the Democratic Convention with reference to Sidney Hillman, then head of the CIO Political Action Committee.
Since the death of Roosevelt, the picture has changed. Although Truman has largely adopted the Roosevelt position in labor matters, he has not kept the enthusiastic support of American labor. So far as the average workingman is concerned, this is probably due more to the pinch of the rising cost of living than to anything else, and in the case of the Communist-inclined labor leaders the reason for the disaffection is obvious. But Truman’s loss of enthusiastic labor support goes beyond that. Many leaders of vision and force in the non-Communist part of the labor movement are increasingly discouraged by his ineffectiveness. They feel that he fails to follow through, that he lacks the ability to get things done. This discouragement is not limited strictly to labor matters, for one of the distinguishing characteristics of many of the new leaders of labor is their recognition that labor is a part of the community and that its interests are bound up in the general welfare of the country and the world.
This disaffection from the Democratic standard offers the Republican Party a tremendous opportunity to regain at least part of the labor support it once had. On the state level it has regained it in some instances. It is important, however, that it do so on the national level as well, because it is hard to see how any party can effectively govern this country for long unless it commands the respect of at least a large segment of the men who work with their hands. Some of the most brilliant minds in America and some of the most effective defenders of our free system are to be found in the ranks of labor. If the Republican Party is to meet the challenge which victory next November will present, it cannot afford to exclude from its councils the leaders of the non-Communist labor movement in America.
This article has concerned itself with the Republican Party only, because that is its subject. One of the most important facts affecting the Republican Party, however, is the disintegration of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has, for the time being at least, lost the capacity to govern. The extreme left wing has deserted the party for Henry Wallace. The moderate loft, represented by the Americans for Democratic Action and those who think as they do, is lukewarm. The extreme right, located mostly in the South, is in substantial revolt against the President’s civil rights program. The great Democratic city machines have lost interest in an Administration which seems doomed to defeat. Even before the Republicans gained a majority in Congress, the Administration had lost effective control of that body, and after the 1946 elections its control of the members of its own party approached the vanishing point. The feeble resistance by Democrats in the House to the cuts in the Marshall Plan appropriations, and the overriding by both houses of veto after veto in the closing days of the last regular session, are proof enough, if such proof be needed, of the complete collapse of Administration leadership on the Hill.
Entirely apart from the Republican position on issues, therefore, and apart even from the personality and qualifications of Governor Dewey, the Republican Party is likely to ride into power on the wave of public reaction against the weakness, disintegration, and futility of the Democratic Party. The great question is whether the Republican Party will be satisfied with that kind of victory if it comes, or whether it will rise and grow with the opportunities which victory will bring. In spite of the hopeful signs which came out of Philadelphia last June and in spite of the apparent ascendancy of the progressive wing of the party, the elements of reaction, timidity, and isolation are still alive. It is reasonable to believe that a newly elected Republican President, supported by the prestige resulting from his success at the polls and by the massive power of the Federal patronage, can keep those elements under control if he exerts his influence to that end. Only the event, however, can give the final answer. In the meantime, reflecting upon the magnitude of the world crisis and the desperate yearning of all men everywhere for a leadership of vision, courage, and integrity, one must pray that Almighty God will give to Thomas E. Dewey and to the Republican Party the capacity to fill the shoes He has made for them.
(This is the second of three articles on the campaign. The first, Gardner Jackson’s “Henry Wallace: A Divided Mind,” appeared in August. The third, on the Democratic Party, by the Honorable Ellis M. Arnall, will appear in October.)