FEBRUARY 5, 1960
NEW YORK—I have a rather interesting letter as a reaction to my column in which I quoted from a gentleman's letter explaining why so many people did not vote in our country. This correspondent has another point of view. He writes:
"I have a hunch that the average citizen has found that in practice it hardly makes any difference which party wins."
Further along he says: "I once asked my Spanish friend, a very intelligent chap, what he thought was the difference between the two parties. He answered: `The Republicans are liberals in the South and reactionaries in the North. The Democrats, on the other hand, are reactionaries in the South and liberals in the North.'
"What we need is a people's party which should be for the people in all sections, not parade under the people's name and work for some special interest's group, e.g. oil."
I would like to tell my friend that, first, no party has a monopoly on people who work for special interests. These interests affect a great many different people.
But I think what is said in this letter is somewhat superficial, because one has to judge by the record of the parties when in power. It seems to me that the most forward-looking legislation that benefits the largest number of people is usually passed during Democratic administrations, and that during Republican administrations those special interests—which my correspondent is so worked up about—achieve the best climate in which to pass legislation favorable to special groups.
On Monday of this week the weather was particularly kind to me. I flew to Syracuse to see my granddaughter and her husband and children. Our plane landed in good weather and without incident, but within the hour snow was falling heavily and if we had been an hour later I don't believe there would have been enough ceiling for us to come in.
I took an afternoon train to Utica where I spoke at a meeting for a bipartisan citizens committee that has been set up to clean up things in Utica. I wish New York City could undergo the same.
Utica has a newly elected Republican mayor, but I doubt if he is any more acceptable to the Republican machine than he is to the Democrats, whose power is being slowly removed from the different departments of the city government.
The citizens were aroused by the bad conditions brought about by the Democrats, who had been in power for a long time. Of course, what happens is that one group abuses its power and, finally, the citizens are sufficiently outraged that they exercise their rights as citizens to clean house.
But the "professionals" just sit back and keep quiet for a while, confident that the reformers will get tired and then they will get back in power. This is an old story, and the pattern has been followed over and over again.
We must remember that the price of good government is constant vigilance. We cannot put people into office and then neglect or ignore them. They must have our attention and praise or blame as it is called for. This is the price of living in a democracy. And it is something that we are apt to forget!
I hope the citizens of Utica will be successful in keeping their fellow men really interested in clean, honest government.