JUNE 8, 1948
NEW YORK, Monday—It is interesting to see revealed in the public opinion polls the subjects that are uppermost in the minds of the average citizen.
We learn that most people are thinking, firstly, of the possibility of war and, secondly, of the high cost of living. Yet in the speeches of most of the potential candidates for the Presidency, we find inflation and the high cost of living rarely mentioned. This probably is accounted for by the fact that few of them know what they really want to do about it. It would be difficult for them to define a plan that would put a check on inflation now without stepping on the toes of some important groups. Therefore, everybody is keeping still.
That does not mean, however, that the average person is not doing plenty of thinking. To a great many people, the staggering sums of money voted for armament with such apparent ease these days is a great surprise. We know that we have to be strong. We know that we have to help the recovery of the world as a whole. But some balance must exist between the two things and our home economy. And at the moment, judging from my mail, there are many American citizens who think our trusted lawmakers have gone overboard in their fear of Russia and may have voted a very unbalanced economic program.
During periods of uneasiness or when war clouds may loom on the horizon, it is easy for our representatives to vote vast sums for armament. Yet, in times of peace, it is curious that we should do so little for such things as education and health programs, which, after all, are the basis of a healthy country and a healthy economy.
Someone described to me the attitude of some of our lawmakers the other day and seemed shocked that so many of them apparently were influenced more by a desire to be opposed to Communism than by a desire to build up the strength of our democracy.
Of course, it is always easier to frighten people than to get them interested in something constructive. The fact that we have American Communists trying to do over here the same type of thing that was done in a number of European countries does give a basis for the fears of our lawmakers. But this is a very different country from the countries in Europe in which the Communists were able to carry out plans to control the existing government and overthrow all opposition.
In Sunday's papers a news story told of the threats made by the present Communist-controlled government in Czechoslovakia against all those who had voted negative ballots in the last election. Such a thing, of course, would be laughed at in this country where the opposition is an accepted and well-understood group and where we consider it extremely healthy to have opposing views in the political field.
I was even surprised and grieved to see that Henry Wallace's third party had been removed from the Ohio ballot. Of course, it may be that it simply could not meet the qualifications for a new party to get on the ballot. For any other reason, however, it would, I think, be a disturbing thing to have any interference in allowing opposing political parties to have a place on our ballot.