The Pittsburgh Press (October 31, 1942)
By Raymond Clapper
We talk about the necessity of preserving the two-party system in this country, but you don’t preserve the two-party system by just having two parties.
We have had two parties in the last 10 years. But the Republican Party hasn’t even served as the vehicle for effective criticism of the administration, much less affecting the course of affairs. It has obstructed, but has missed its opportunity to construct.
Whereas the Republicans in Washington generally contented themselves with denouncing the administration, a Republican like Governor Stassen of Minnesota devised a system of labor relations that has worked very well.
The New Deal has allowed labor control to get entirely out of hand. After bringing about much-needed changes to insure collective bargaining and to protect the right of employees to organize – which was long overdue – the administration allowed labor organizations to abuse the new power.
But Republicans had so discredited themselves that they were unable to make themselves effective critics. In fact, the Southern Democrats came nearer to bringing about changes in labor legislation to curb abuses.
In foreign policy during the period leading up to Pearl Harbor, the Republicans, except for some dissenters like Senator Austin and Rep. Wadsworth and others of equal understanding, followed a policy of obstruction which, if it had any effect at all, hampered the administration in taking necessary steps, instead of pushing for the things that had to be done and insisting on better execution.
Individual Republicans, yes!
Constructive criticism has come not from Republicans as a minority group but from committees headed by Democrats – the Truman Committee of the Senate and the Tolan Committee of the House. The Republicans as a party group have had no effect.
That does not go for individual members. Republicans can be cited whose attitude, if adopted as a Republican Party policy, would have led the people of the country to look to the Republicans for constructive criticism as they have looked to these two investigating committees.
On the Tolan Committee, for instance, Rept. Bender of Ohio, a Republican, has given constructive assistance. I single him out only because of his vigorous supplementary comments on the last Tolan Committee report. He goes further than than the Tolan Committee in some of his detailed criticisms of lack of planning, of failure to tie strategy and production closely together, of the neglect to organize manpower so that the Army could have its men without disrupting war production.
Finest opportunity ever now
Other Republicans are similarly giving their best thought to how the progress of the war can be aided. When you have enough of these men in Congress, then you will have a Republican Party that means something in fact, as well as in name.
Senator Ball of Minnesota had, in his short service, won the respect of his colleagues for his effort to keep the nation’s interests in mind ahead of everything else. Senator Gurney of South Dakota is another. Many others could be named in both houses.
The Republican Party has an opportunity that it has not had in the last 10 years. But it will miss the boat again if it continues the same kind of policies that the present Republican National Committee trumpets.
Recently, a group of Republicans in the House, led by Rep. Hope of Kansas and a few others, drew up a set of principles that could well become the party’s policies. But they have been largely forgotten, and have not been taken up by the Republican National Committee and made the basis of the party’s general campaign.
Rep. Dirksen of Illinois brought out new ideas for improving the machinery of Congress, but the Republicans as a group have let them lie cold, instead of setting behind them to make a constructive issue of them.
The re-election of men like those, and the introduction of new Republicans like Mrs. Clare Luce of Connecticut, would enable the Republican Party again to become a force in Congress. Just the addition of new members, of more of the type that has gone before, won’t produce an effective minority party. They will only be votes for the present futile opposition.