Election 1944: Post-convention editorials

The Afro-American (August 5, 1944)


Editorial: Republicans and Army segregation

The Republican Party enters the campaign with a decided advantage because of its pledge to investigate and take whatever legislative action is necessary to correct race discrimination in the Armed Forces.

Strong executive action, as well as legislation, is needed and is overdue since the widespread dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war is the mistreatment of colored troops.

This mistreatment includes:

  • Compulsory training in the Jim Crow South where the Army has been unable to protect its men in uniform from civilian abuse and humiliating segregation;

  • Exclusion of colored men and women from voluntary enlistment from service on the Navy’s fighting ships and with WAVES, SPARS, nurses and special services (only token enlistments have been accepted as Navy chaplains and surgeons);

  • Promotions so restricted that with nearly a million colored men in the service, commissioned officers number only a few thousand;

  • Separation of white and colored troops without legal sanction, in fact in violation of the Constitution. Even those who wish to fraternize are forbidden to do so under pain of punishment.

In the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, colored and white served together in regiments and on fighting ships. Rigid segregation appeared first in the Civil War, but even then, there was no Navy funny business and colored men fought as Marines, gunners and seamen on Union ships.

Colored servicemen today have no objection to fighting in colored units, but they do object to the prohibition which bars them from other units and bans whites from their outfits.

Some white soldiers do not wish to serve with colored. Some colored prefer not to serve with white. But why should any government prevent them from doing so if they want to and why should promotions be denied competent officers merely because they are colored?

The situation is so bad at present that white enlisted men are welcomed in mess halls and clubs from which colored commissioned officers are excluded.

Governor Dewey, the GOP candidate for President, we hope, will have a word to say about this during the campaign. Long suffering G.I.’s and their folks back home will be all ears.


Matthews: Straws in the wind

By Ralph Matthews

Although the defeat of Vice President Wallace, a known liberal, is regretted by many, there are other rays of hope which prove that the reactionaries are not having things all their own way.

That even the Deep South is trying hard to lift itself from the depths is seen in the long-overdue defeat of Senator Ellison “Cotton Ed” Smith in South Carolina.

We are not certain whether his successor, Governor Olin D. Johnston, is a rip-roaring liberal, but we are certain that anybody would be an improvement on Cotton Ed. The mere fact that South Carolina has had sufficient change of heart to keep him home is a healthy sign.

Ex-Senator Smith has little to his credit in the Senate beyond his championship of white supremacy, his protection of the big cotton planters, who wax fat off of the South’s miserable sharecrop slave trade, and his dramatic gesture in walking out of the Democratic National Convention because a colored minister, the Rev. Marshall Shepard of Philadelphia, was invited to pray.

We cannot help but speculate that Cotton Ed would have welcomed even the prayers of Parson Shepard as the votes were counted Tuesday night returning him to private life.

One bright spot on the Democratic Party front was the fact that Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia stood before the Democratic Convention in Chicago and praised Henry Wallace after he had made his speech predicting the destruction of all the things the South holds dear.

Another was the speech of Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, who declared he would be ashamed if the Democrats told the world by their actions that Wallace “was too democratic for a Democratic convention.”

Another healthy sign is the rumpus raised in Texas and other Southern states over the seating of delegations at the Democratic Convention. This is not a “revolt” in the sense that some try to pretend, but a sign that the South is stewing in its own juice of the one-party system which is too cramped for the incompatible elements to operate.

If the Roosevelt administration stays in long enough, and the anti-Roosevelt Southerners stay out long enough, they might eventually awake to the realization that two strong parties are as necessary to the South as to the rest of the country. Minorities always stand to profit when they can play one party against another. The South may yet give stillbirth to democracy.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 8, 1944)


Editorial: Only registered may vote

This November, according to all indications, a greater number of citizens than ever before will want to cast a ballot in the presidential election.

But a great many citizens, who decide near Election Day that they want to vote, may wake up to discover that it is too late to register.

In Pennsylvania, only those who are registered at least a month before the election may vote. The last day to register is Oct. 7.

Registration officials are now making special efforts to accommodate voters who are not enrolled. Both the city and county offices are open until 9:00 p.m. ET, Monday evenings. For two weeks prior to Oct. 7, they plan to stay open every night until 9:00.

If there is sufficient demand, they may even send registrars into the field to enroll voters.

But all the extra effort of registration officials will be useless unless the voters themselves are interested. They won’t enroll anyone who doesn’t show up and ask to be enrolled.

The time to register is now. Don’t wait for the deadline rush just before Oct. 7 – or, worse, forget about it until after the deadline, thus disfranchising yourself.

The Wilmington Morning Star (August 10, 1944)


Editorial: Process of elimination

Inevitably in our two-party system of government each party collects some embarrassingly bigoted groups who, though small in number, still command enough votes to make the professional politician think twice before reaching for the ax. This year, the Republicans collected Gerald L. K. Smith and the America Firsters; the Democrats, Earl Browder and the Communists.

The other day, however, Thomas E. Dewey and John W. Bricker lopped off the America Firsters from the fringe of the Republican Party. In strongest terms of denunciation and repudiation, they scorched Smith for his attempt to put Governor Bricker’s name on an America First ticket.

This repudiation is commendable and necessary. It gives notice that we have no existing political haven for racial bigotry, just as the two party platforms make it clear (though they may differ in detail) that there is no room for isolationism in either party’s post-war policy.

The repudiation certainly cost some votes. Smith claims 3,000,000. True or not, he does control a substantial number. If an America First ticket can be put in the field, it might cost the Republicans one or more states. In the Midwest, the America Firsters’ stronghold, the Republicans carried Michigan by less than 5,000, Indiana by only 25,000, and lost Illinois in 1940.

Nevertheless, the great majority of Americans will applaud this denunciation, and the candidates’ refusal to accept organized support from a group whose beliefs are associated with racial bigotry. For certainly such bigotry is repugnant to the spirit and tradition of a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal.

So too is political bigotry. It may not be so distasteful at the moment, since the American Communists – for whom the war began with the invasion of Russia, and international collaboration with the Tehran Conference – are currently starry-eyed champions of democracy. Only the most naïve, however, can imagine that their conversion is anything more than momentary and expedient, or that it is not subject to change without notice.

The American Communists have embraced, if not the Democratic Party, at least its national ticket. They have merged with the American Labor Party and are making their presence felt in the CIO Political Action Committee. Their organizational ability – smooth, seasoned, zealous and tireless – can win votes.

So wouldn’t it be well if the Democratic candidates followed the Republican example now and repudiated, once and for all, these other elements which are foreign to American principles and policies?

The Afro-American (August 12, 1944)


Editorial: See Wilson

See Darryl Zanuck’s $5-million motion picture Wilson, but don’t take it seriously.

It’s designed to prove that the 28th President was one of the world’s greatest men and that we are at war today because we welshed on his proposal to join a League of Nations.

None of us believe that Germany should come out of this war with all her territories. We think today that the best guarantee of future peace is a weak Germany.

The fact that Wilson couldn’t sell us a league, therefore, is not the sole cause of the present war. He has to bear the blame for leaving Germany strong enough to stage a new effort at world conquest in our generation.

The film compares Wilson with Lincoln, but the Emancipator’s theories of freedom and dignity for all included the humblest of citizens. It included colored people.

Wilson was eloquent and persuasive when he said we fought the first war to “make the world safe for democracy.” When he cried aloud for self-determination for minorities, we took him at his word. But he double-crossed colored people just as he welshed on the political bosses who made him President.

Before he was elected, he promised colored leaders a square deal. After he became President, he told them he could not appoint them to office because it would cause troubled with the South.

Senator Nye shocked the Senate in 1936 by declaring that Wilson lied about his trip to Europe and his connection with the secret treaties. Senator Glass hopped up to defend Wilson, but Nye proved his point by the diary of Wilson’s Secretary of State hauled out of its hiding place in the Library of Congress.

Colored people distrusted Wilson as strongly as the Senate. They knew the great(?) Woodrow as a Southern politician to whom it was “second nature to pay lip service to laws he has not the slightest intention of obeying, and to principles he does not an instant propose to follow.”

The Turkish Ambassador was handed his passports by President Wilson for calling attention to America’s professions of democracy and its mistreatment of colored people.

In the midst of World War I, civilization was outraged by race riots in Springfield, Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis. A colored delegation from Maryland sought an interview with the President, who was too busy to see them.

On that occasion, the late Kelly Miller wrote his famous open letter to Mr. Wilson, titled the “Disgrace of Democracy.” He said the President was preoccupied with his fight to abolish all war abroad and was unable to prevent lynchings and race riots at home.

Dr. Miller wrote:

A doctrine that breaks down at home is not fit to be propagated abroad. You have given the rallying cry for the present world crisis… but [your] democracy for white people only is no democracy at all.

Dr. Miller described Wilson’s attitude on the race problem as one of “passive solicitude.” He said:

It seems you regard it as a regrettable social malady to be treated with cautious and calculated neglect… During your entire career you have never done anything constructive for colored people…

All the segregation in the Armed Forces we suffer in this war, all the exclusion from promotion, and from service in the Navy, and Nurse Corps, we endured in a double portion under President Wilson.

We were Jim Crowed in Southern Army camps and publicly humiliated before our allied abroad. Of course, none of that is in the film, whose only colored character is an obsequious flunkey.

Be sure to see the 20th Century-Fox film Wilson. AFRO readers will glimpse $5 million worth of propaganda, a lavish spectacle and a tragic figure – how tragic colored people know better than most Americans.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 16, 1944)


Editorial: Removing a ‘verboten’

Soldiers, who have been privileged to risk their lives but discouraged from coming into contact with ideas, soon will have the official blinders removed.

The Senate yesterday, recognizing the silliness of that part of the Soldier Vote Act under which the Army has felt compelled to put certain books and other publications on a blacklist, quickly passed an amendment. The House may be expected to go along.

Thereafter, “nothing herein shall prevent the Army and Navy” from making available to members of the Armed Forces any book, magazine, newspaper, film or broadcast “as generally presented to the public in the United States.”

As to government-financed or government-sponsored publications, films and broadcasts, no such item is required to be withheld from the troops unless, when “considered in its entirety,” it contains political propaganda “obviously” designed to affect election results or obviously calculated to create bias for or against a particular candidate.”

Those are the principal changes, and they ought to suffice to undo a situation compounded of hasty legislation and strict service interpretation.

Senator Taft, father of the offending section thus amended, cooperated with Senator Green in sponsoring the revision, but hinted darkly that the War Department’s list of banned books was “a deliberate attempt to make Congress look ridiculous.” And he added, remarkably, that the Army was “certainly unduly anxious” to get out the soldier vote in November. Both remarks ill become the Senator, whose usual calm seems to have been disturbed by an acute case of pique.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 18, 1944)


Editorial: Dewey’s foreign policy

Mr. Dewey on the eve of the three-power conference in Washington voices his fear of the trend toward international power politics. He states the issue of imperialist control versus the rights of small nations. As a presidential candidate, it is not only his privilege but his duty to speak out on this subject, which is so close to the hearts of most Americans.

But he would have been more effective, in our judgment, if he had given Secretary of State Hull full credit for leading the fight for a genuine international security organization.

It was Cordell Hull who wrote the rights of small nations into the Moscow Pact, a pledge for a democratic international organization later incorporated into the Connally Resolution by the Senate. American policy was reasserted in the Hull Easter declaration:

Nor do I suggest that any conclusions of these four nations can or should be without the participation of the other United Nations. A proposal is worse than useless if it is not acceptable to those who must share with us the responsibility of its execution.

Again, in his Pan-American Day address, the Secretary of State insisted that the big powers were pledged to these traditional American principles:

They were stated in the Atlantic Charter, the United Nations Declaration, and the declarations made at Moscow. Specifically, it was agreed at Moscow that membership in the world security organization must be on the basis of the sovereign equality of all nations, weak as well as strong, and the right of every nation to a government of its own choice.

But these British pledges and Hull statements did not prevent Prime Minister Churchill from reporting to Commons his proposal for “a world-controlling council… comprising the greatest states,” and “a world assembly whose relations to the world executive or controlling power for the purpose of peace I am in no position to define.” Mr. Churchill not only defends British imperialism but Russia’s ambitions in Eastern Europe.

Even more significant than words are acts. On the record up to now the small nations have been shut out of all major political conferences and decisions. On the record Russia is trying to control Eastern Europe as a sphere of influence, and Britain is trying to speak for Western Europe.

So long as this continues, Mr. Dewey and every American should be alarmed by the trend. The fact that Secretary Hull has fought so valiantly so long, and that he now hopes all the United Nations can be included in a later conference for international organization this fall, does not dispose of those fears.

President Roosevelt has never given the American public a full report on his understanding with Messrs. Churchill and Stalin at Tehran and since. Circumstantial stories have appeared indicating that the President gave his blessing, at least with the consent of silence, to the Churchill-Stalin sphere-of-influence deal. We cannot believe that the President would have been so foolish, but such widespread suspicions are the price he pays for his love of secret diplomacy.

We wish the President were as frank and vigorous in defense of American interests and policies as the Prime Minister is on behalf of Britain and as the Marshal is for Russia. Unquestionably Mr. Roosevelt in his own way is making the same fight as his colleague Cordell Hull, but he has less to show for it. His good intentions are not enough. In this field of post-war international relations, he has not proved himself – far from it!


Editorial: Freedom of reading

No reading necessarily influences the reader.

But all reading, to some degree, affects the general attitudes of the reader, although the effect may be infinitesimal.

And no reading affects all readers alike, or even any two of them precisely alike.

Which is by way of saying that there is no way of proving how any political biased or “interpretive” writing will affect any given number of readers.

If such persuasive writing were possible, somebody would write it and the election would be over.

Even the most biased or the most expressive political “masterpiece” will have a highly diversified effect on any group. It will please most those already sold on the same idea. It will aggravate those opposed to the idea. It may stimulate thought on the part of others, but it may also puzzle them or simply leave them cold.

All of which made the Taft law “censoring” books, movies, newspapers and periodicals for the Armed Forces a futile measure.

But it was also a ridiculous measure because it attempted to prohibit the adult men and women in the Armed Forces from reading material which is available to every schoolchild in America. It treated those entrusted with fighting the war as if they were too immature to be trusted with reading for themselves.

It was further ridiculous because the law itself was open to divergent interpretation.

The War Department, going to an extreme, ruled out standard works on the mere mention of political subjects. The Navy Department, on the other hand, pursued an unperturbed course by giving the men in the Navy the reading they seemed to want, regardless of content.

Congress has approved amendments to the Taft law so it no longer bars reading material available to the general public.

President Roosevelt cannot act too quickly in signing the Senate amendments to this unmoral and insulting law.

Freedom of reading is as basic as freedom of speech.

The Wilmington Morning Star (August 22, 1944)


Editorial: Joke wore too thin

The political censorship section of the Soldier Vote Bill was good for some laughs, but the joke was beginning to wear thin. So now the inevitable modification of the measure has been voted by Congress.

The Senate amendments do just what should have been done in the first place. They make certain that the soldier or sailor will get the same sort of reading matter available to him at home, limited only by the exigencies of war. They are going to let him see what movies and plays are available, listen to the radio, and receive his private mail – including political literature – without interference.

And they are going to dispel some unflattering undemocratic inferences that existed in the original measure as drafted by Senator Robert A. Taft. It was hard to escape the conclusion, under Army execution of the original law, that Congress regarded a citizen as radically changed when he put on the uniform of his country. Congress seemed to think that he abandoned all independence of judgment with his civilian clothes. It appeared, at least under the law’s application, that the man fighting his country’s battles should be protected from any writing inclined to excite discussion. Congress apparently felt that the servicemen’s diet of information should be extremely bland – no roughage, no condiments, and not much quantity.

Senator Taft consented to and cooperated in the Senate amendments to the political censorship law, which is to his credit. But in doing so he blamed the War Department for failure of the first measure, and suggested that the Army’s overliteral application of the law had been deliberately ridiculous, designed to discredit Congress and sway the election.

This seems unlikely. If the original law had not been vague, flexible and ill-advised, its interpretation would not have been so silly. If the original law had not carried some stiff penalties for violation, the Army probably would not have been so zealous.

Senator Taft also voiced some doubts about the War Department’s political impartiality. This also seems unlikely. The War Department is headed by a distinguished, respected Republican statesman. The Army Chief of Staff has never voted. Its officers are drawn from men of both parties.

No, the sad truth seems to be that Congress pulled a legislative boner.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 26, 1944)


Editorial: PAC shakedown

The bagman for Sidney Hillman’s Political Action Committee sees nothing illegal or even unethical in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union’s shakedown of employers for its campaign money chest.

Hyman S. Blumberg, vice president of the Hillman union, not only defends the solicitation of money from firms having contracts with the union, but asserts he would not be surprised if other meetings to further the collection of funds were to be held “throughout the nation” between now and November.

Mr. Blumberg’s bland assurance that “no high-pressure methods were used” is one of the most cynical statements yet made in the Hillman campaign to create a fund large enough to buy the election.

In bright contrast to Amalgamated’s activities, it should be pointed out that other unions, notably the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, have long recognized that the collection of funds by a union from its employers even for charitable purposes comes dangerously close to blackmail. In fact, David Dubinsky’s union establishes this principle in a strict constitutional provision absolutely prohibiting any such solicitation or collection. And Mr. Dubinsky himself made a noteworthy example of one union official whom he suspended for four weeks for having sold an employer tickets to a benefit in which the union was interested.

If there were any question about the threat to democracy embodied in the huge election fund the PAC is taxing out of its own membership – and now out of the employers – the latest revelations of Amalgamated’s shakedown and its threat of further shakedowns should answer it.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 29, 1944)


Editorial: Not political, eh?

Now isn’t this somethin’? Acting Secretary of War McCloy rules that President – beg pardon, Commander-in-Chief – Roosevelt’s address from Bremerton, Washington, after his trip to Honolulu and the Aleutians, was “not political.” It was instead a “report.” And so deciding, Mr. McCloy reverses a six-hour-old Army ruling that the law permitted the Socialist Party equal radio time for broadcast to soldiers overseas.

Okay, let’s take Mr. McCloy’s word for it. Now the thing to do to make everything fair and square is for the Navy to provide a warship and escort for Norman Thomas, the Socialist candidate, to take a junket to our outposts and come back and make his “non-political report. Then provide the same conveniences and setting for Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate.

Comrade Browder, having dissolved his Communist Party and joined the New Deal, will need no special reservation this year.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 1, 1944)


Editorial: Misnamed liberalism

A letter from a reader puts into words better than we have yet been able the danger to labor itself in the CIO-PAC drive to take over the Democratic Party.

That movement is being promoted in the guise of liberalism. Of that our letter says:

I think that a wholesale menace to all liberties is taking form under the name of liberalism; that it is trying to capture the labor movement and, through that movement, the government; that the CIO-PAC is its spearhead; and that its goal is government planning and management of the national economy.

If I could believe that a government-planned, government-managed economy would benefit the workers, the great majority, I should question my right to feel as I do. But I can find no evidence to justify such a belief. Under such a system the faults of bureaucracy – the muddling, inefficiency, arrogance, waste and extravagance – which irritate almost everyone in a time like the present, when a large degree of government planning and management is accepted as necessary to the conduct of a war, would continue and grow worse.

But, beyond that, such a system could not function long unless government used its power to MAKE people conform to the plan and submit to the management. Laborites who think that government power would be used only against the capitalists – against industry and business and employers – are simply deluded. As deluded as were the German bankers and industrialists who backed Hitler because they thought they could control him. Eventually the power would be used against the workers and their unions.

The CIO, of course, expects its philosophy to dominate the government. Administration of the Wagner Act under Madden and the two Smiths provided a preview of what would happen to labor if that expectation were realized. The law – the government’s power – was used not only against employers but against the rival form of labor organization. The CIO tried to destroy the AFL and, given the fuller opportunity it now seeks, probably would destroy it. But it wouldn’t stop there. The CIO would want government’s power used to prevent schisms in the CIO and to prevent people from organizing unions of their own choice, or joining them, if they were heretical from the CIO viewpoint.

When the labor movement, its leaders or members, start off, knowingly or ignorantly, toward the goal of a government-planned and government-managed national economy through political action, the liberal course in my opinion is to fight such a trend. Any labor leader or any rank-and-file union member who leads or follows a march in that direction deserves no praise.


Editorial: FD on ‘indispensable man’

We read Harry Truman’s speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination, hoping to find some new argument of the Democrats. But it was the same old refrain – that only Franklin Roosevelt has the experience, that only one man can handle the big job.

A very good answer to the indispensable-man argument is a statement made by Mr. Roosevelt himself before he entered the White House. Speaking at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 5, 1932, Mr. Roosevelt said:

The genius of America is stronger than any candidate or any party. This campaign, hard as it has been, has not shattered my sense of humor or my sense of proportion. I still know that the fate of America cannot depend on any one man. The greatness of America is grounded in principles and not on any single personality. I, for one, shall remember that even as President.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 5, 1944)


Editorial: Toward a labor party?

People occasionally speak of “the labor vote” in such a way as to suggest that all of labor is in the habit of balloting en bloc for a particularly political ticket. That is not true – fortunately, in our opinion, for the good of the country.

If substantially all of labor were to adhere to Party A, inevitably the other great elements of the electorate would align themselves with Party B. Elections would become competitions for supremacy between economic groups. A man’s politics would be determined not by his views on foreign affairs, or on the conduct of the public’s business in Washington, or on the personalities of candidates, but simply and strictly by his economic status.

The country would be split down the middle, politically, and the great body of independent voters who heretofore have wielded a corrective balance of power as between the Democratic and Republican parties, would shrivel up. The result would be domination of the country either by labor or by a combination of the other economic groups.

The objective of Sidney Hillman and his Political Action Committee is, of course, to turn out the labor vote as nearly unanimously as possible for the Roosevelt-Truman ticket. The operations of the PAC to this end have been energetic and ingenious. They have also been touched with something approaching ruthlessness, and there are scattered symptoms to indicate that not even all of the CIO, let alone the rest of organized and unorganized labor, is ready to have its nose held while Dr. Hillman pours his medicine down its gullet.

There were those two Utah locals of the CIO, and another one at Gary, Indiana, which said a flat “No” to the proposition that their members should kick in a dollar a head to be dispensed for Hillman candidates. There was that Boston member of the CIO’s Newspaper Guild who wrote in The Reader’s Digest that the PAC “is setting up a conflict between the labor movement and the free, independent political spirit.”

There was the warning of an AFL veteran Robert Watt, that “in every instance where the labor movement has become a front for a political party, it has eventually died.” And the expressed fear of Labor, organ of the rail brotherhoods, that the consequences of the PAC campaign “may be the most disturbing to the regular labor movement.”

Those are healthy symptoms, and if they turn out to be contagious, we think it will be a good thing for the long-haul fortunes of this country.


Editorial: Mr. Dewey’s opportunity

Usually by this time in an election year, the presidential campaign is rolling and the oratorical guns roaring. But there has been little sound and fury from the hustings so far this season, in deference to the more deadly cannonading that has been deciding more fateful issues across the oceans.

But this week, Governor Dewey, the challenger, opens his campaign with a speech in Philadelphia Thursday night. Mr. Dewey must have been under tremendous pressure to start his stumping earlier. He has many disadvantages to overcome. National public opinion polls have shown him running second. He is undertaking to unseat an administration entrenched by 12 years in power and at a time when the country is “enjoying” a war boom and voters have plenty of money in their pockets.

Although he has a splendid record as Governor of New York compared to his opponent, Mr. Dewey is not well known to the electorate as a whole, and two months is a short time to acquaint the voters with his views and qualifications.

Mr. Dewey’s opponent has the prestige of the presidential office and the trappings of Commander-in-Chief, and is neither loath nor unskillful in exploiting them. So, Mr. Dewey probably has been both prudent and wise in holding back on his campaign until the end of the European War has come in sight. The people have not wanted to listen to politics. Their thoughts have been on what has been happening over there. Now that peace and the problems of peace seem to be in the offing, they will be more ready to listen to what Mr. Dewey has to offer in lieu of four more years of what they’ve got.

As much as he can Mr. Dewey has tried to eliminate the conduct of the war from the campaign. He has said that he will leave the completion of that job to the generals and admirals.

In the cross-country speaking tour, which he begins this week, Mr. Dewey will have an opportunity to tell the people what he proposes to do when the war is won.

This contest will not be decided by extraneous issues. Uppermost in the people’s minds are three questions, beside which all others pale. They are:

  • How to keep the peace, so we won’t have this gory task to do all over again a generation hence.

  • How to provide real jobs and a chance to get ahead for all Americans who are willing and able to work.

  • How to get away from one-man government and evils of bureaucracy, and restore to vigor government-by-law.

Bearing on the big three issues, of course, are questions of international cooperation, military preparedness, policies relating to free enterprise, taxation, economy, social insurance, reconversion, home rule, separation of constitutional responsibilities – but they are all collateral to, and stemming from, the three important questions.

And on those paramount issues, Mr. Dewey is at no disadvantage to his opponent.

Mr. Roosevelt can claim no special knowhow on keeping the peace. He was in office nine years and vested with extraordinary powers – and granted that others may have been more to blame and that he did the best he could – still the fact remains that our country was attacked and the peace was not kept.

Mr. Roosevelt can claim no special knowhow in the making of real jobs and opportunities. Through those nine years before we entered the war, although he was given billions of borrowed dollars to spend, there remained eight or nine million unemployed, and the country was still crippling along with WPA, NYA and CCC.

As for one-man government versus constitutional processes, Mr. Roosevelt’s knowhow runs all in the wrong direction.

But Mr. Dewey cannot win this election merely by reciting Mr. Roosevelt’s failures. He can win only if he convinces the voters that he can do better – only if he lays out a program which the people recognize as being sounder and more hopeful than they can expect from four more years of Mr. Roosevelt. The people may want a change, but they’ll ask, “A change to what?” In answering that lies Mr. Dewey’s opportunity.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 8, 1944)


Editorial: Dewey-Hull felicitations

Most Americans will share the gratification expressed by Governor Dewey and Secretary of State Hull in their exchange of letters regarding the nonpartisan basis of their foreign policy consultations.

In commenting on the recent conversations between his adviser, John Foster Dulles, and the Secretary, the Republican presidential candidate said they showed that Democrats and Republicans are beginning “to wage peace as we wage war” on a plane above partisanship. Mr. Hull in reply hailed Mr. Dewey’s letter as “a heartening manifestation of national unity” on the peace problem.

We believe these Hull and Dewey expressions represent much more polite amenities. Unquestionably both men share the same sincere desire for a constrictive peace and the same determination to keep debate above the party level.

Of course, this does not mean that these should be no debate. The democratic process, which we are fighting to preserve, requires frank debate of honest differences in judgment as to the best route on the uncharted sea of international organization. As Mr. Dulles stated on Mr. Dewey’s behalf, their agreement with the Secretary of State reserves the right of “full public nonpartisan discussion of the means of attaining lasting peace.”

The Pittsburgh Press (September 9, 1944)


Editorial: Dewey gets started

Governor Dewey, opening his campaign in Philadelphia, said he wanted to make it clear that:

This is not merely a campaign against an individual or a political party. It is not merely a campaign to displace a tired, exhausted, quarreling and bickering administration with a fresh and vigorous administration. It is a campaign against an administration which was conceived in defeatism, which failed for eight straight years to restore our domestic economy, which has been the most wasteful, extravagant and incompetent administration in the history of the nation, and, worst of all, one which has lost faith in itself and in the American people.

He pointed to the administrative chaos in Washington, the piling of agency on agency, the quarrels that no one in authority stops, the snarls that nobody untangles, the messes that are made of the people’s business at the people’s cost.

He cited the New Dealers’ fears for the future, their doleful prediction of difficulties and delays in reconversion and demobilization, their dismal preparations for another depression after the war – including Gen. Hershey’s shocking statement that after the war “we can keep people in the Army about as cheaply as we could create an agency for them when they are out.”

But, more than that, Mr. Dewey asserted his own firm faith that America can provide jobs and opportunities for all; that we have not even begun to build out industrial plant; that we have not exhausted our inventive genius or our capacity to produce more goods and an ever-higher living standard for our people; that we need not sacrifice freedom to achieve social security; that “we can achieve real social security only if we do keep our freedom.”

Of course, he said, we need regulation of the stock markets, bank-deposit insurance, price support for agriculture, unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, relief whenever there are not enough jobs, protection of labor’s right to organize and bargain collectively.

But we must also have a government which believes in enterprise and government policies which encourage enterprise… We must see to it that the man who wants to produce more jobs is not throttled by the government, but knows that he has a government as eager for him to succeed as he is, himself… Our place in a peaceful world can and will be made secure. But nothing on earth will make us secure unless we are productive and unless we have faith in ourselves.

It remains for Governor Dewey to prove to the country that, as President, he would know how to act on the beliefs he proclaimed in Philadelphia. Such action, as he said, involves many things – tax policies, regulatory policies, labor policies, opportunities for small business, the encroachments of bureaucracy – subjects which he promised to discuss in detail in future speeches.

We think that his emphasis on jobs and opportunities, on production and prosperity, on the need for vigor and freshness in the government during coming year of peace, got his campaign off to a hopeful start.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 10, 1944)


Editorial: Dewey’s foreign policy

For a man who is supposed to know nothing about foreign policy – to hear some of the fourth-termers talk – Mr. Dewey did pretty well in his Louisville speech Friday night.

Certainly, there was much more meat in it than in the evasive generalities which Mr. Roosevelt gives off so airily on those rare occasions when he breaks his habit of secret diplomacy.

Is such a comparison unfair to the President because he, at the moment, is carrying the responsibility of international negotiations and the Republican candidate is not? We don’t think so. Mr. Churchill has no hesitation in telling the British people what is British policy and, indeed, Allied policy. In this democracy should the people have less information about, or control of, official policy than in Britain?

Since the Dewey address in Louisville there is more hope of smoking the President out of his secrecy to approximate, if not match, his opponent’s frankness. If that happens, all Americans will be indebted to Mr. Dewey for a great public service. Because the Rooseveltian habit of fixing things up with Winnie and Joe behind a Tehran screen or over the personal phone – and never reporting to the American public – is one of the gravest dangers today to open covenants openly arrived at.

This is not the first time Mr. Dewey and the Republicans have prodded the administration toward a more enlightened foreign policy. The Republican Mackinac Declaration, in favor of American participation in an effective international organization for peace and security, forced the Roosevelt hand which for months had blocked Congressional action. Just as that incident, and the GOP platform and Dewey acceptance speech robbed the fourth-termers of their fake “isolation” issue, so Mr. Dewey on Friday night proved that he and his associates, far from being amateurs, have a thorough knowledge of foreign affairs.

Mr. Dewey’s foreign policy is genuinely international – and realistic. He is for continued cooperation among the big powers to enforce a peace of non-aggression on the Axis, and an international organization for the long haul.

But he is much more specific than the President on what to do with Germany, and about open diplomacy, and the rights of small nations, and the necessity of any lasting peace restraining the victors as well as the vanquished in the years to come.

The most striking difference between the Dewey policy and what little is known of the Roosevelt policy is the Republican candidate’s emphasis on the fact that building peace is not only a matter of treaties and organizations. It is a continuous, constructive process of creating a healthy world, politically and economically. He wants an American leadership that neither dictates to others nor keeps them on a Yankee dole. In this, his foreign policy is an inseparable part of his domestic policy, so different from that of “the Washington wasters” as he calls them:

To hear them talk Uncle Sam must play the role of the kindly but senile old gentleman, who seeks to buy the goodwill of his poor relations by giving away the dwindling remains of his youthful earnings. That is no lasting way to win friends or to influence people. Goodwill cannot be bought with gold. It flows to the man who successfully manages his own affairs, who is self-reliant and independent, yet who is interested in the rights and needs of others.

What has the fourth-term candidate to say to that?

The Pittsburgh Press (September 11, 1944)


Editorial: The Ozarks can have him

No candidate for such a high office as President of the United States can be responsible for the conduct of all of his camp followers.

President Roosevelt has been handicapped by zealots, crackpots and political phonies and demagogues.

Governor Thomas E. Dewey, as the Republican nominee for President, is “blessed” with some of the same stripe.

One of these is Congressmen Dewey Short of Missouri, who calls himself the “hillbilly from the Ozarks.”

Mr. Short last Saturday delivered a speech here to inaugurate the Republican campaign in Pennsylvania. The speech was utterly devoid of persuasive and logical arguments on behalf of the Republican ticket. It was an abusive, offensive diatribe, replete with invective and vicious innuendo.

This election will be determined by public judgment of the personal abilities of the rival candidates and their basic politics and intentions, as revealed by their own words and records.

There are ample issues to be debated. They can be defeated logically and clearly.

The Republican State Committee conferred no favor on the voters of Pittsburgh – and won no votes for its cause – when it brought Mr. Short here Saturday.

Both camps have their Dewey Shorts. The less we hear of them, the better it will be for the candidates, for the parties, for the country.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 14, 1944)


Editorial: Count their votes

In Ohio, the Attorney General has ruled that military ballots marked by members of the Armed Forces who are subsequently, but prior to Election Day, killed in action cannot legally be counted.

Perhaps there is something in the Ohio law to justify that opinion. The Attorney General should know.

But here County Elections Director David Olbum says there is nothing in the Pennsylvania law calling for such invalidation. And he adds his opinion that voiding the votes of dead soldiers would be ridiculous.

Of course, it would. By necessity, military ballots may be marked by servicemen and women when they are received. They need not be marked on Election Day, to compel them all to vote on the same day would either deprive most of them of a ballot or require a stoppage of the war.

But once the ballot is marked, it is valid and should be counted.

We hope nobody in Pennsylvania thinks up any ruling like that of the Ohio Attorney General.