FEBRUARY 20, 1948
NEW YORK, Thursday—I have been reading the various newspaper analyses about the American Labor Party's victory over the Democratic candidate for Congress in the special election in the Bronx, and I think what surprises me most is the fact that so many people seem surprised by the results. They apparently were not very well acquainted with conditions in that area.
When the people followed my husband—and even the Communists followed him—they did so because he was the person who was showing genuine interest in their difficulties—and they had plenty of them. Now, these particular people in the Bronx have been subjected to intensive Communist organization and to clever propaganda in which their emotions have been appealed to on many sides.
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Two things worry the American people—inflation and the fear of war. Henry Wallace, who supported and spoke for the American Labor Party candidate, tells them that the third party is for a foreign policy which would prevent war, and he excoriates everything that is done by the Democrats even though they have the same objective. It is just a case of two different methods but, being a hopeful soul, Henry Wallace is not afraid to announce authoritatively that his way will keep us out of war. And since that is what the people want to hear, they believe him.
He sympathizes with them in the matter of inflation, but the third party does not have responsibility to prevent it—nor will Leo Isacson, the newly elected Congressman from the Bronx, be able to do anything about it. Only two members of the American Labor Party in Congress—Mr. Isacson and Rep. Vito Marcantonio—are not going to accomplish anything on their own. They will vote either with the Republicans or the Democrats, and their votes will count for very little.
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But above and beyond anything else, the third-party candidate in this special election played up the Palestine question, which he knew would have emotional appeal in that Congressional district. It is just a case of fooling people.
I do not agree with Edward J. Flynn, head of the Bronx Democratic organization, that the election is a revelation of the strength of the Communists which we did not recognize before. They were there before, they haven't greatly increased, but they could throw their full strength into this particular area because they had fertile ground in which to sow their seed.
It is unfortunate that more people who are eligible to vote did not vote, but again not very surprising. In the last national Congressional election, a great many Republican candidates won because the labor groups, which should have been vitally interested, simply stayed away from the polls.
I would say that this election points up a very simple thing—namely, that the Republicans and Democrats alike had better bestir themselves to remove the people's two great anxieties, or the course of our government in the next few years may be surprising to both parties!