AUGUST 11, 1958
HYDE PARK—The American Heritage Foundation is now conducting a bipartisan campaign that I believe is one of the most important ever seriously pushed by an organization in this country.
The object is to encourage all Americans to invest one dollar or more in the political party of their choice to help finance the coming election campaigns. The slogan, which I hope will be published far and wide throughout the country, is: "Want to keep politics clean? Don't pass the buck—give a buck to the party of your choice."
I happen to be one of the trustees of the Foundation. Why should we be interested in this kind of a drive? I think the facts speak for themselves.
In 1956 the money spent on political campaigns is estimated to have been $200,000,000, yet only two percent of the population contributed to those campaign funds. This means that while a few people who were simply interested in helping their particular parties contributed money without expecting any special favors in return, there probably were many more among that two percent who contributed large sums because they had "special interests" for which they expected to get consideration from one party or the other.
To avoid putting a successful candidate or his party managers under obligation to self-interested large contributors, it is essential that campaign contributions come from the masses of the American people in small sums. A dollar or more is not too much to ask anyone to invest to make sure that our elected office-holders will not be tied by obligations to individuals or special-interest groups who have supported him (or her) financially during the campaign.
How will this drive for small contributions be conducted?
Republican party workers will canvass for funds from September 14th to October 14th. This gives them an entire month to conduct a house-to-house fund-raising drive throughout the country.
The Democrats have decided to do it differently. They will have an intensive four day drive from September 26 to September 29, inclusive. This will require even better organization of party machinery throughout the country than the Republicans' method, but if the Democrats are well organized it will mean fewer days in which people will be having their doorbells rung by solicitors for a dollar or more.
The main point, of course, is that no matter how this drive is carried out it should be carefully and thoroughly organized, so that every American citizen in every community is given the opportunity of joining in this truly sensible plan to give us elected officials who will not be handicapped by owing a debt of gratitude to any particular set of special interests.