JULY 6, 1960
NEW YORK—Evidently the Congress has decided at least to take some holiday after the national conventions. The Senate will return on August 8 and the House on August 15. And it would seem impossible that the extra session would last very long, as campaigning will have to begin not later than early September. I imagine the hope of the Congress as a whole is to adjourn before Labor Day.
Campaigning will go on nevertheless by both major parties, and it seemed to have started over this past weekend so far as the Republicans are concerned. Gov. Nelson Rockefeller issued another blast against Republican leadership. He charged that the Republican party leadership is not interested in competition for the Presidential nomination or in discussion of the issues.
In some ways what he is saying is very similar to what President Truman said in his Saturday press conference. The implication was that the Republican convention is "rigged," that is to say that the decisions have already been made and that the delegates will be in Chicago purely to ratify these decisions. The delegates won't be there to make free choices or to discuss any of the issues of the campaign.
The format of the news conference, as reported on television, is a very lively and interesting one. I believe such "shows" must attract very large audiences throughout the nation. In his press conference Mr. Truman made a direct appeal to Senator Kennedy, and the implications of what he said may have had an impact on the public. But I doubt really whether President Truman's advice is as potent and influential as he himself seems to feel it is.
Sometimes I think that in the struggle to win nominations party leaders are thinking primarily along the lines of winning the bosses and other leaders; the delegates themselves seem to be considered pawns.
The leaders of both parties seem to forget that, once the nominations are made, the election depends on the people of the country. Those up for nomination are actually bidding to be chosen by the people of the country to fill the most important positions of President and Vice-President—offices that will have the greatest effect on the future of the people themselves.
What are these people—you and me—thinking as they watch this preconvention struggle? How do they gauge the character and the ability of the men concerned? These are the really important questions. These are the questions that will be decided on Election Day.
The leaders are trying to figure how they can make the voters follow their choice. Yet, what they ought to be thinking is how they can choose a man whom the voters will trust. That man, Republican or Democrat, will have to make frequent and necessary changes in policy if we are to assert our world leadership for the benefit of mankind. Will the people trust him?
As I watch the struggle for the nomination, I wonder how many leaders in both parties are thinking of us who are not delegates, who are just the people who vote in an election, and who are now making up our minds as we watch the preconvention maneuvering and listen to the preconvention goings-on.
We, the people, must be remembered, for we can and do hold the power if we will only use it.