My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—The Democratic primary election in New York promises to be more active this year than it has been in many years past.

We now have as candidate of the Democratic city bosses our State Controller, Arthur Levitt. He has of course immediately made the statement: "I am not obligated, nor will I be committed to any person, group or organization." These are fine words but, unfortunately, no matter how much he tries he cannot make them true. He has accepted the nomination at the request of the city bosses and will run against Mayor Wagner.

This will in all likelihood consolidate the Liberal party and much of the Democratic party in New York City behind Mayor Wagner. It will undoubtedly be a heated contest. The bosses have an organization, and the rising tide of reform and rebellion against them has not as yet consolidated its strength sufficiently to be sure of getting out the uncommitted vote in the city. In addition, there is of course a large group of Democrats who are opposed to Mayor Wagner because, with all his good intentions, he has managed not to detect quickly enough abuses that were growing in the city administration. He has appointed committees instead of making decisions; he has taken advice which has led to the alienation of certain groups, and the picture is not a rosy one in his favor.

I think, however, that those Democrats who want reform have to make up their minds that basically the Mayor has had the courage to cut himself free of the bosses. The root of much of the evil that besets the city lies in this boss rule, and I therefore feel there has to be a consolidation of the liberal forces behind the Mayor. If it shows itself strong and cohesive there may develop a strong Democratic free movement which will have a real influence on the next four years in New York City government.

The situation in the schools alone should make us all anxious to keep in closer touch with the city government and to urge that those in charge of the schools accept responsibility for existing conditions. From recent news stories it looks as though the top people were going to try to make the superintendents responsible for conditions. But anyone who knows the situation realizes that the trouble lies at the top and not with the superintendents.

From the Mayor down, there has been surprise at the conditions in certain schools. Yet private organizations have known of these conditions for some time, and reports have been written about them. Hence there is absolutely no excuse for the surprise of top school officials, or even of the Mayor, as they now go and look for themselves. Isn't it their job to keep looking all the time? Shouldn't they know more about conditions than anyone else? It seems self-evident that you cannot free yourself of blame because you did not look.

* * *

What a lot of trouble oil makes in this world! Much of Britain's oil supply comes from Kuwait, and for that reason Kuwait was a British protectorate until its independence was proclaimed last month. When Iraq made its historical claim to Kuwait a few days later, this small state, which is about the size of Connecticut, immediately requested that British troops defend their borders. The question was brought up in the Security Council of the U.N., where the British proposal was vetoed by the Soviet Union, using its 95th veto. Then the council defeated a rival resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of British military forces from Kuwait. This was of course also supported by the Soviet Union. Great Britain, which has already withdrawn two companies of Coldstream Guards, has said it would withdraw its forces at the request of Kuwait's ruler, and it is hoped that this difficulty will be peacefully settled by negotiation among the Arab states themselves.

Shortly, of course, oil will lose some of its importance, just as coal has. But then there will be new things which will create difficulties. Basically, it is people themselves who must learn not to try and control their neighbors or want to take over such riches as they think they can gobble up because of superior force.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL