FEBRUARY 11, 1959
CHICAGO—On Sunday the New York Herald Tribune, which has published a statement by former Gov. Averell Harriman saying he disapproved the action taken by the group easily identified as former Sen. Herbert Lehman, Mr. Thomas Finletter and myself, called me up for comment.
I cannot help feeling that no good Democrat reading the statement which Senator Lehman gave out, and on which the three of us agreed, could really disagree with anything that was said.
The primary objective of Senator Lehman and myself, and I am sure of Mr. Finletter as well, is to revitalize the Democratic party by participation on the part of as many Democrats as possible. This desire on our part is a result of the failure of our party in the last election.
There was a tremendous increase throughout the nation in Democratic strength and here in our state we lost, not because our Governor Harriman had not been a good governor but because confidence in the party management had reached an all-time low.
Mr. Carmine De Sapio is the New York County leader and he had been also the Secretary of State, and he claimed a predominant voice in the party policy and management. This having been the case, he naturally must bear some responsibility for the results.
What will occur, if the primary purpose of the committee gains adherence in the state, as Senator Lehman, Mr. Finletter and I hope, I do not know. But I do know that our hope is for greater participation by many Democrats, particularly young Democrats, and for a strengthening of the democratic process within our party.
It is obvious that neither Senator Lehman nor I are seeking public office, nor are we interested in acquiring any influence personally in the party. Mr. Finletter is more nearly the age to have active participation in party machinery and in public office.
But all of us have formed this movement with a desire to build an avenue for the grassroots to work and to express their desire. We know that we can do very little ourselves. What little we can do depends on the response of the people who feel, as we do, that our party organization in the state has lacked strong, vital and idealistic appeal to the youth of our state.
We hope that this movement might provide machinery to help the expression of new ideas and new methods of action for people of all ages who have felt they had little or no opportunity to participate in the actual making of decisions. We hope that new channels will be opened for participation in policy-making and for the advancement and development of young and vital leaders.
A party can go stale, and I think the results of the last election showed that for the Democratic party in New York State we needed some pretty strong infusions of new leadership. This happened in Pennsylvania some years ago, and it has happened in other states.
So, we who seek nothing for ourselves would like to open avenues for others and to take an active part and make our party a power again for good in New York State.