JANUARY 7, 1941
WASHINGTON, Monday—We have just come back from the Capitol, where we listened to the President deliver his message to Congress. Of necessity, a message to Congress is in fairly general terms. It cannot specify all the ways and means by which certain objectives are to be accomplished. I felt, however, that in this message, our national objectives were fairly clearly stated, and some of the details which will have to be later put into legislative form by Congress, were at least plainly indicated.
It did not seem to me anything in this message was of more interest to the Democrats than to the Republicans. On the whole, while there might later be some difference of opinion as to the methods of carrying out the objectives, there seemed to be nothing that members of Congress of all parties could not accept as representing their stand in relation to the interests of their country.
Therefore, I was not only astonished but saddened, to notice that the applause came almost entirely from the Democrats and only a few noticeable exceptions on the Republican side raised a hand in approval at any point. It looked to me as though these members of Congress were saying to the country as a whole:
"We are Republicans first. We represent you here in Congress, not as citizens of the United States in a period of great crisis, but as members of a political party which seeks primarily to promote its own partisan interests."
This is to me shocking and terrifying. There was running through my mind as I watched them, in what would have been an act of childish spite if it had not been such a serious moment in history, the lines of a song which was popular when I was young: "I don't want to play in your yard. I don't love you any more."
Sometimes I wonder if it will take the suffering of the peoples in conquered countries and those who are still fighting for their freedom today, to make us realize that there are times when it matters little whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. The wings of the eagle cannot be clipped, either because you have economic interests or political differences.
Our eagle has always soared high in the skies. He represents the spirit and heart of a people who care for nothing as much as liberty and justice, and I think he will represent such a people to the end. Few of our citizens, no matter what their political affiliations, will applaud their representatives in a partisan attitude on questions which can have no partisan taint.
Surely all of us can be united in a foreign policy which seeks to aid those people who fight for freedom and, thereby, gives us the hope of present peace for ourselves and a future peace for the world founded on the four great principles enunciated today. As to the determination to continue to make it possible for our people to feel that we are ever moving forward to a civilization which will make life more worth living for them, that also seems to me an objective which we can ill afford to have any partisan difference becloud, no matter how we may differ on the details of achievement.