AUGUST 19, 1959
NEW YORK—To me, as to many other people, Admiral William F. Halsey's death seems a real personal loss. He was a courageous, able and fine leader in the Navy, particularly in the Pacific during World War II, and after his retirement he served the cause of peace in the United Nations with great devotion. No one who watched him work could have failed to sense his real anxiety to give of himself so that there would be no holocaust in the future such as he had lived through.
To his family one can send only one's deepest sympathy and hope that the sense of affection and admiration for a fine public servant of high ideals held by so many may give them some consolation in these hard days.
Those of us who believe that the reform movement in New York City is important not only to this city but to the state and the nation as a symbol of our desire to make our democracy really meaningful must, I think, try to urge on every Democratic voter the importance of Primary Day, September 15, in this city.
I do not vote in the city, so I can be of help to the reform people only in explaining to as many people as possible why I feel that the Democratic party must stand for reform—which, of course, means greater participation of the people generally in their party.
Probably the most vital consideration is the election of responsible representatives who will answer to their constituents as a whole and not to the leader of the Democratic organization only.
It is quite true that organization is essential and that one should have a leader, but the leader should be responsible for organization and should see to it that the elected district leaders do the work which they feel the people of the district want.
This has not been the case in a large number of districts in New York City. For instance, we know that district leaders have not appeared at hearings when housing was being discussed, yet this is one of the most important issues to the people of their localities. Also, in many indirect ways power has been built up and corruption has been allowed without the people realizing what was actually happening. Even judges have been used for political purposes.
It is essential that this system and this power be changed and returned to the voters themselves. And this cannot be done unless the voters, the Democrats in the party, will vote for reform candidates on September 15.
I hear much talk from people who are disgruntled with the party machinery but who think there is no other way except to vote Republican and oust the Democrats. To me, as a Democrat, this seems cowardly. One should fight to make the party that represents, or should represent, the ideals one believes in as good as it ought to be. And that can be done only if the voters will go out and vote for reform.
One of the difficulties that one always encounters in reform movements is that the existing party machine can split those who want reform by explaining that there is a group that is better than the real reform group. It is a reform group, too, they will say, but it stands for this or that, which seems a little better.
So, the voters must find out which is the real reform group that will have nothing to do with the existing party control in New York City. We will need the whole of the vote of the Democrats who want good government in order to win on September 15.