NOVEMBER 4, 1944
NEW YORK, Friday—We listened to my husband's speech last night, and I do feel sorry that he has not been able to leave Washington this week. Every woman knows, however, that the choice between first things and second things must be made almost daily in everybody's life. If a child is sick, you subordinate everything else in the house to the care of the child. If the country is at war, there are bound to be a constant number of little problems as well as big ones, but even the little ones may not be shirked.
I do not think, however, that making campaign speeches and traveling to different places is time wasted. I have a feeling that every public servant should renew his contact with the people as often as possible when he is in office, and this is doubly true when a campaign is going on. It is only through the actual sight and feel of the crowds that the man in public life really gets to know what the people who back him believe in. I have known men who could sit at home and read the newspapers from all over the country and get a fair idea of what men and women everywhere really wanted. I think this is a useful thing to do, of course, and should be cultivated. But nothing speaks to the heart like personal contact, and every leader must know the hearts of the people who follow him, as well as their intellectual convictions.
A lady from California wrote me an amusing little anecdote. It is about her little daughter, who once fell into conversation with an elderly woman and made a discovery! "Know what, Mummy?" she said after the conversation. "That woman isn't grown up." Rather baffled, her mother asked her how she knew, and the child replied: "'Cause she didn't vote."
Then my correspondent went on to tell me that they make it a family custom to take the children with them when they go to the polls on election day. The children hear the political discussions on the way to the polls and back; they meet people who differ in their political points of view; and, most important of all, they learn that when you are grown up, you vote—which becomes for them a sign of maturity.
I think this idea of family voting experience, even when a child is very young, is an excellent one. It might be a way of bringing about a consciousness of our responsibility as citizens at a very much earlier period than is now generally the case.