My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

PARIS, Monday—As I look at the New York City newspapers and see pictures of the crowds greeting the Presidential candidates, I feel just a little homesick. Our political campaigns and the peculiar way in which we conduct them seem odd to many foreigners, but they are in our blood and we carry them on regardless of what is happening in the world.

We may be slightly troubled over here in Paris because Stalin asserts that the West aims at "unleashing a new war." But the crowds greeting President Truman and Governor Dewey in New York aren't troubled at all. They have much more important business at hand. They enjoy the excitement of a political campaign. Sometimes I think they cheer both candidates impartially whether they intend to vote for them or not.

I was interested to read that in his Boston speech Governor Dewey advocated a "broad expansion of Federal social benefits," and to go so far as to say that a Republican Congress would enthusiastically support these ends. One can only say about that that the record of the last Republican Congress was anything but enthusiastic in this regard.

There is bound to be a continuous running battle between liberalism and conservatism within the Republican party. Being out of office they had been able to keep this battle beneath the surface. But if they have to take the responsibility it is bound to come out in the open just as it has in the Democratic party.

Someday I suppose there will be a realignment of all the liberals in the Democratic party and all the conservatives in the Republican party, or there may be two new parties. Just at present they are hopelessly scrambled, and if President Truman is defeated one of the factors will be the Wallaceites on the one hand and the Southern reactionaries on the other. Should Governor Dewey be elected, he might find himself for the first time with part of the legislative side of government not of his own political party. He will begin to understand the difficult role a Democratic Governor in New York State always has had to play with a Republican legislature in the majority to handle.

So far as foreign affairs go, it probably will make very little difference who is elected President, since even a Republican President will need Democratic votes if he is going to pursue a bipartisan policy and a progressive one.

* * *

On Friday night I dined with the Soroptimist Club and had a very delightful evening. French women are not given to joining organizations, nor do they have as many organizations as we have in the United States, and I enjoyed this distinguished group, all of whom achieved positions of high prominence in their own right in a great variety of fields of professional and industrial work.

* * *

Last night I again met a woman who was an active organizer in the Resistance movement, and among her duties was the carrying of messages to the Channel to be taken to England. She always wore a German Red Cross uniform and got by for a time with only two German words, "ya" and "nein," by always pretending to be in a hurry. Her good luck didn't hold out too long, however, and she ultimately was imprisoned and tortured. Her nose was broken three times. Her back was scarred. Her hands were burned. Her face is covered with cigarette burns, which are hardly visible now unless you look closely, but she never gave up a secret.

One cannot hear these stories of heroism of the French women and not have a profound respect for the courage and patriotism that made them carry out dangerous missions day in and day out.

I also remember a little Dutch woman who wrote to me that she never opened the door during the war without wondering what might lie beyond it. And that is true of every occupied country. Yet the women lived their lives apparently attending to very humdrum jobs while weaving dangerous and difficult tasks into the pattern so successfully that they got by for weeks and months and even years.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL