FEBRUARY 13, 1940
WASHINGTON, Monday—I spent yesterday afternoon listening to the American Youth Congress. One after the other, young people rose and told of the difficult position in which they found themselves. That is the thing, above all others, which will remain with me as a result of listening to these sessions. Many, many young people are facing desperate situations. They are trained to express themselves better than they were in my generation, so they are able to tell you much that is on their minds. I think that is very fortunate for them and us.
Whether you agree with everything that is said, whether you can see eye to eye with this group or that group, is immaterial. The point is, that it is good for people to state openly what they have on their minds and in their hearts.
The great majority of the young people have gone home this morning, and the small group which constitutes the assembly is getting down to business to formulate a program to make people conscious of their need for jobs, to cover the fields which may help individuals, and to fit themselves better for any jobs they can undertake. Finally, the other thing which remains with me from the past few days, is the determination of youths that, so far as they are able to influence the nation, that they do not want to have the present problems settled by going to war. War seems to them not only a method of ending their lives, but a method by which we put off facing the fact that the economic questions of today have to be answered.
Labor's Non-Partisan League has suggested that, from the political angle, they work with that organization. I think this would probably be a very valuable experience. I worked for years with the League of Women Voters before I took any active part in any political party and I feel it was very beneficial. But, in the end, if one wishes to exert the maximum influence through suffrage, one must join a political party, work in the organization and have something to do with the nominations.
When all is said and done, the greatest influence any individual can have is by working in cooperation with other indviduals. In nonpartisan organizations, one can exert influence by, in specific cases, throwing the organization this way or that, but one has very little influence on the actual conditions of the major political parties or the nominations which are made for the various offices.
Yesterday evening, I stopped in at the dinner held by the National Jewish Congress for a few minutes, and I was very glad to have an opportunity to speak with them.
I am now going with the President to the ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial, and later to the Congressional Club breakfast.