My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, N.B., Wednesday—We can chalk up one hopeful sign in the fact that the Dutch and the Indonesians accepted the United Nations Security Council's "cease firing" suggestion. It may be that nothing very effectual will result and certainly the next steps must be rapid and decisive, but one is glad to see the United Nations actually moving in on a situation of this kind and making a successful start.

* * *

There was an article by Lester Markel in the New York Times Sunday Magazine which I found extraordinarily interesting. Mr. Markel recently returned from an extensive trip through Western Europe. The article is interesting not so much because of his surveys there, since many people have noted the same things, but because he is so frank about the Washington atmosphere.

Many wise politicians in the past have said that New York and Washington never know what the rest of the country is thinking and so the politicians are right to go home, get in touch with their home people and get the feel of the country. What troubles me, however, is that members of Congress and other political leaders seem not to realize that they go home for a twofold purpose. First, to find out what people are thinking, and next, to enlighten them if they have not heard or understood all the facts.

No politician can be too far ahead of his followers, but he is responsible for the progress of his followers and for their full understanding of questions which he has had an opportunity to study in a way which is not open to every citizen. A Congressman is a moulder of public opinion as well as a representative of opinion, and when he goes home is the time when he can mould public opinion.

* * *

I was interested that Mr. Markel also noted that, because of our concern over Russia, we might find it easy to rebuild an industrial Germany through the Marshall Plan, but that the democratization of the German people was far from easy and far from sure. To rebuild Germany as an industrial empire capable of making war will be opposed, I think, by France and every small Western European nation.

It is quite evident that the USSR has decided she needs the things Germany can produce, and that she hopes that, with her usual methods of infiltration, she may control the labor unions and build a strong communist influence in German government. Therefore, she is taking a chance on building up German industrial strength. Germany and the USSR together could be a strong combination. But the USSR must realize that this is building two worlds very rapidly.

Mr. Markel says three worlds already exist—the capitalist, the socialist and the communist. The capitalists are slow to help the socialists, but if the USSR, with Germany's past history before her, helps to rebuild a strong industrial Germany, she will do much to bring the capitalist and socialist systems together.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL