My Fellow Republicans

What public affairs mean to the private citizen. ROBERT MOSEShas learned by thirty years of participation in New York s city and state governments. An authority on parks, highways, and municipal and state planning, he has served every governor since . Al Smith and both Guardia and O’ Dwyer, In the Hoover Commission on the Organization of the Federal Government he was the head of the task force on public works. His warning to “Republican BourbonsandDemcratic Socialists” is that the United States is ripe neither for revolution nor for reaction, and that both parties should mind their language accordingly.

THE recent Atlantic articles by Gerald W. Johnson and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., were both stimulating, down-to-earth political pieces — one explaining President Truman’s hold on the plain people, and the other offering a liberal formula for Republican revival and success.

I am a middle-of-the-road Republican, not too happy in a divided party. My sympathies are largely with the Dewey-Lodge-Driscoll wing. I see, however, plenty of sincere if misguided conservatives on the other side. It seems to me that we have a basic ideological cleavage in our party which must somehow be healed, bridged, or split, wide open. We must face this cleavage honestly before we get down to Senator Lodge’s specifications or hope to compete successfully with Mr. Truman for the group votes which he has so shrewdly captured. In the process of settling this issue we shall also decide whether there will be two parties or three, or even more. Maybe the differences are irreconcilable.

Our ideological division and debate is over “statism.” Now “statism” on the face of it is a confusing word without generally accepted connotation. That is what makes it so dangerous. To some it means bureaucratic government as distinguished from free private enterprise. To others it signifies the Federal as against the state and local governments. To still others it implies democratic as opposed to communistic rule. The word is falsely coined. Most of its recent uses have no dictionary authority. It has somehow become an expletive and shibboleth of the several branches of rightwing Republicans. The progressive Republicans regard it as a counterfeit and devoutly hope it will soon be out of circulation.

“Me-tooism” is a synonym for “statism.” It decries imitation of the other fellow’s philosophy, irrespective of its origin, timeliness, and validity. When an ultraconservative charges a liberal conservative with being a “me too” man, the latter replies that this is simply raising the tattered banner of standpattism and the closed mind. As for the sneer that the progressive Republican only promises to do the same thing Truman is doing, but to do it better, what’s wrong with that as to common objectives? Most promotions are based on evidence that yours is the better man. Mr. Johnson does not picture President Truman as a very superior statesman, He says the President is a one-eyed man among the blind.

The dogma of ultraconservatives which builds an impassable barrier between the fields of business and government, and fixes exactly the metes and bounds of each, is just as obsolete as is the doctrinaire rule that within the area reserved for government there are three neat little sealed compartments, labeled respectively “Federal,”“State,” and “Local,"and that any attempt to change their relative size or to move the contents from one to another should be fought to the death.

Our Republican Bourbons have discovered the implications of democracy and don’t like them. At the same time the Democratic Socialists are just beginning to learn by experience that nothing exceeds like excess. The simple fact is that the United States is ripe neither for revolution nor for reaction, and that is where the middle-roaders come in.

The common sense, middle-of-the-road pragmatist, for whose support we are contending, believes that the area of government should not be expanded beyond our capacity to govern and our ability to pay. He is against swollen bureaucracy, crippling official red tape, and waste. He is opposed to nationalization of industry and socialization of medicine, and believes government should not needlessly invade private enterprise. Within the government field he holds that we should guard states’ rights and municipal home rule, but not to the extent of denouncing limited Federal aid where nothing else will accomplish what the people want and have a right to demand. He is convinced that it is possible to preserve our democratic heritage without making a museum of our minds, just as we can conserve natural resources without locking them up.

An amazing increase in production, an unprecedented rise in employment, the revolt of the disinherited which has brought about rapid redistribution of wealth and leisure through shorter hours and higher pay, an almost miraculous extension of the span of life—these are the big pieces in the economic jigsaw puzzle which enlightened and imaginative leaders in and out of government must fit together, and all talk about statism and metooism obscures the problem, wastes precious time, and makes the task harder, it would be a pity if we were to substitute synthetic cuss and catch words for clear and ingenious thinking on this subject.

Atomic and political explosions have precipitated us into world leadership which we are reluctant to accept and cannot repudiate. God help my fellow Republicans if they see in this context only material for grousing about statism and me-tooism, coupled with demands that the Federal government confine itself to defense, diplomacy, and constitutional guarantees, and with shouts for a return to fortyeight separate, hermetically sealed sovereign states, a thousand medieval walled cities, and nineteenthcentury grass-roots, cracker-barrel, crossroads isolationism.

Municipal home rule must often yield to broader considerations under present urban conditions. When a drastic new Multiple Dwellings law affecting only New York City was passed by the state legislature without formal approval by the city, Judge Cardozo, writing his concurring opinion sustaining the measure in the New York Court of Appeals, said: —

Reason as well as authority justifies a conclusion that these health measures must be a matter of state concern. The city of New York may justly be proud of its position as the largest and greatest city of this country. Size, however, is of minor importance; its position makes it the great port of entry for the people of this entire land. . . . The business of the country, if not the world, is more or less centered in New York City. The point of all this is that New York City, with its millions, is made up very largely of those who pass through it, or temporarily reside in it. It is a shifting population, scattering over all portions of the state and to the four corners of the earth. A pestilence, a disease, anything that affects the health and welfare of the city of New York, touches almost directly the welfare of the state as a whole. . . . The health of a community, we have discovered, thanks to science, has more to do with the general prosperity and welfare of a state than its wealth or its learning or its culture. . . . The police power of the state has never been questioned when it dealt directly with hygienic conditions of a community. Unless the intent is clear or reasonably certain, it should not now be limited or whittled away by the reform known as home rule for cities.

When “Old Man River” was first, sung in Show Boat, people who had never thought about such matters suddenly realized that the welfare of a Negro roustabout engaged in interstate commerce on the Mississippi levees cannot be entrusted to one backward state, but is of national concern.

When Albert Einstein and Lise Meitner escaped from Hitler, bringing with them to this country the secrets of atomic energy, it dawned on the stubbornest isolationists that science is international and that we still have something to learn from immigra nts.

If the Republican Party hopes to survive as one integral unit, it must realize and indeed rejoice in the fact that we live in a new age with new challenges.