My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Sunday—I listened to the convention ballotting on Friday and to the speeches of acceptance made by the nominees for President and Vice President on the Republican ticket. I don't think any two speeches could have told us less of what these two important gentlemen really intended to try to accomplish in the next four years if they are elected in November.

Perhaps they could say no more because the Republicans hope to elect not only a President and a Vice President, but also a majority in the House and Senate. In that case the President would have at the head of all his most important committees those conservative elder statesmen who have been Senator Taft's strong supporters. It is hardly probable that these men will not try to uphold the principles and beliefs of the Old Guard which almost everyone of them represents. The machine stays the same—the machine which tried to win the nomination of its candidate, Senator Taft, by fair means or foul. This will make the attack on Democratic corruption in high places sound somewhat insincere, for everyone will remember what these gentlemen of the Republican National Committee were willing to countenance in order to win the nomination for their candidate.

For the country I would like to feel that the Democrats would put up the best possible candidate, that they would firmly decide to correct the mistakes which they recognize, and would make a good and, I would hope, a winning campaign. Nevertheless I would be glad to feel that the Republican party had nominated a strong man, able to keep his party in line for the principles in which he and his more youthful supporters believe. Undoubtedly some of those who so ardently supported the Republican nominee did so sincerely, believing in a more progressive foreign policy at least. But perhaps 50 percent of his supporters did so only because they thought he could win. These very likely are not to be counted on to support even a more progressive foreign policy.

The platform was written so that either candidate could stand on it, and is therefore a weak platform in comparison with the Republican platform of 1948. The foreign policy plank, the FEPC plan, the labor plank—all of them are drawn up so they may be interpreted in different ways.

Granted that the Republicans were to win, the meaning of that platform could be twisted in many ways. A few Negro delegates who accepted the FEPC paragraphs did so by giving the interpretation which they hoped would justify their accepting it. The plank, however, does not really say that fair employment practices shall be compulsory, nor that the Federal government shall have any jurisdiction at any definite given point. It is all done in this same uncertain manner. I think the speeches of acceptance showed the uncertainty and said as little as possible, for no one knew exactly where he stood. This is not that positive leadership which will win in November.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL