Dealing with Republicans: The More Things Change…
Seldom a day goes by that I don’t hear nostalgic lamentations from the left about “modern republicans.” It’s as if we have forgotten the near domination of American politics by Republicans from the civil war and the rise of the robber barons through the gilded age and the depression, being interrupted only in 1932 with the election of FDR. They remain the same old GOP.
Republicans and Democrats (or reasonable facsimiles) have been fighting the same battles over the same issues for much of our history. Republicans have always been Republicans. I’m more nostalgic for the days when Democrats didn’t try so hard to pass themselves off as Republicans. We have all too many of those critters in the party today.
As an illustration here’s Harry Truman speaking on the stump for Hubert Humphrey in 1948:
Harry S. Truman: Address in St. Paul at the Municipal Auditorium October 13, 1948
Today the forces of liberalism face a crisis. The people of the United States must make a choice between two ways of living–a decision, which will affect us the rest of our lives and our children and our grandchildren after us.
On the other side, there is the Wall Street way of life and politics. Trust the leader! Let big business take care of prices and profits! Measure all things by money! That is the philosophy of the masters of the Republican Party.
Well, I have been studying the Republican Party for over 12 years at close hand in the Capital of the United States. And by this time, I have discovered where the Republicans stand on most of the major issues.
Since they won’t tell you themselves, I am going to tell you.
They approve of the American farmer-but they are willing to help him go broke.
They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing.
They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights.
They favor a minimum wage–the smaller the minimum the better.
They indorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools.
They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them.
They approve of social security benefits-so much so that they took them away from almost a million people.
They believe in international trade–so much so that they crippled our reciprocal trade program, and killed our International Wheat Agreement.
They favor the admission of displaced persons–but only within shameful racial and religious limitations.
They consider electric power a great blessing-but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.
They say TVA is wonderful–but we ought never to try it again.
They condemn “cruelly high prices”–but fight to the death every effort to bring them down.
They think the American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people.
And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.
Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way–there is another way–the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party.
Of course, the Democratic Party is not perfect. Nobody ever said it was. But the Democratic Party believes in the people. It believes in freedom and progress, and it is fighting for its beliefs right now.
In the Democratic Party, you won’t find the kind of unity where everybody thinks what the boss tells him to think, and nothing else.
But you will find an overriding purpose to work for the good of mankind. And you will find a program–a concrete, realistic, and practical program that is worth believing in and fighting for.
Now, I call on all liberals and progressives to stand up and be counted for democracy in this great battle. I call on the old Farmer-Labor Party, the old Wisconsin Progressives, the Non-Partisan Leaguers, and the New Dealers to stand up and be counted in this fight.
This is one fight you must get in, and get in with every ounce of strength you have. After November 2d, it will be too late. It will do no good to change your mind on November 3d. The decision is right here and flow.
Against us we have the best propaganda campaign that money can buy.
But we are bound to win–and we are going to win, because we are right! I am here to tell you that in this fight, the people are with us.
With a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, you will have the right kind of unity in this country.
We will be unified once more on the great program of social advance, which the Democratic Party pioneered in 1933.
We will be unified in support of farm cooperatives, rural electrification, and soil conservation.
We will be unified behind a housing program.
We will be unified on the question of the rights of labor and collective bargaining.
We will be unified for the expansion of social security, the improvement of our educational system, and the expansion of medical aid.
Moreover, we will be unified in our efforts to preserve our prosperity and to spread its benefits equally to all groups in the Nation.
Plus ca change, plus cest la meme chose.