DECEMBER 31, 1947
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—So Henry Wallace is really going to head a third party and run for President in 1948! What strange things the desire to be President makes men do!
He has probably forgotten but I remember his coming to see me in the summer of 1945 in Washington. At that time, I felt very strongly that it would be good for the country if Henry Wallace, whom we all believed in and admired, would leave active politics and become the leader of the independents of the country. Their vote had increased greatly in the years between 1929 and 1945, but they needed leadership and organization.
They were neither Republicans nor Democrats. They were primarily interested in getting the kind of leadership which would keep them free of economic depressions. And they wanted to continue what had been a peaceful but steady revolutionary movement which had given us, over the years, a greater number of people in the middle-income brackets and fewer people in the millionaire group or in the substandard-income groups.
This had been accomplished in smaller countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but it was a little more complicated in a country the size of ours and had to come more gradually. It could be done under our capitalistic system with proper regulation and was being done, but the independent vote of the country was very largely responsible for the way our economy and social thinking was developing.
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I felt that out of politics Henry Wallace could do a tremendously valuable piece of work to keep both of our political parties on their toes; to make both of them less prone to act for purely political reasons; to make both of them realize that to win any election this independent, liberal vote was essential and must be courted by deeds, not words.
The women of the country belong largely in this group. They are not hidebound and they are very practical. They know that well-being spread over a great number of people is a safeguard and the best defense of one of our most important freedoms—freedom from want. The young people of the country needed leadership to be in this group; and to feel that they had with them an older man of complete integrity, would have been a tremendous inspiration.
At that time, Henry Wallace told me he believed it was his duty to stay and work in the Democratic Party. I knew then, as I know now, that he was doing what he thought was right, but he never has been a good politician, he never has been able to gauge public opinion, and he never has picked his advisers wisely.
All of these things might have been less important if he had been a disinterested, non-political leader of liberal thought, but as a leader of a third party he will accomplish nothing. He will merely destroy the very things he wishes to achieve. I am sorry that he has listened to people as inept politically as he is himself.