MARCH 28, 1962
DETROIT—One of the newspaper columnists has just written an article pointing out that the Republican party is in real trouble because of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on the Tennessee voting case. He carefully explains that it is trouble that will come about slowly, but that this new decision may mean a real effort to change the Republican predominance in the various state legislatures and the old-time hold of rural areas over the city and suburban representation.
He ends his article with this question: "After all, who can honestly say that the Democrats have done a good job of governing the cities of America?"
The reason for this question lies in the fact that it is largely in the cities that the Democrats have been strongest, and the trend in the suburbs even now seems to be toward greater strength among the Democrats.
Therefore, I think this question also should be asked: "Who can honestly say that the Republicans have done a good job of governing the rural areas of America?" Have they always informed their constituents of what really would benefit them in the way of legislation? Or, have they encouraged them to remain ignorant of modern trends and to continue to cling to the old when it is essential to look forward to the new?
Actually, I think a lesson can be learned, since we really want to have two parties vying with each other, to better the whole country and we want change as often as the party in power becomes careless and no longer serves the people's best interests.
The old division of serving rural interests as opposed to city interests and city interests as opposed to rural interests has no longer any validity. The interests of rural areas are tied so closely to the industrial and labor interests of the city that they cannot be divided into neat little packets any more. Increasingly, farming is becoming a business even where we can retain—and I hope we always will—family-sized farms. They may soon find that they will have to join together both for production and marketing purposes in cooperatives or they will not have a chance of competing with the big-business farm.
The well-being of the farm affects the well-being of the city, and the city industry that is no longer profitable can seriously affect the farmers' markets and their type of production.
The other vote in the cities that is considered to be Democratic is that of minority groups. But as integration becomes more and more a fact the interest of minority groups will melt into the whole voting population. Then they will not be as much the tool of politicians as has been the case at times in the past.
In fact, as one looks at the whole picture of the U.S. political situation, it seems that we are gradually improving and getting to the point where the democratic process can work more successfully than ever before. As you remove the obstacles and the pressures that have been on people they are better able to look at questions apart from their own special interests, and I think we will soon get the real total value out of the two-party system because the parties will have to vie with each other in what is really best for the people as a whole.
It soon will not be worthwhile to make an effort to fragment them and to develop special interests among them. People are gradually going to see that their interests are mutual and that it is a question simply of what party really provides the most honest and able government—which party offers them the best candidates.
Under these circumstances it will be more attractive for young men and women to work in their parties. Political machinery always will be necessary, but political bossism in either party will become less and less necessary. More and more people will feel that they can work in their parties and their voices can be heard so that they can express their honest convictions.
If the Republican party really believes that the people of the country want some kind of complete conservatism far beyond anything that we have had in recent years and can recruit enough of those who also believe in this, than there can be a genuine division between the Democratic point of view and the Republican. The Democratic viewpoint, of course, is that certain types of conservatism are gone forever in the modern world.
This may bring us to more clearly defined differences between our two parties, but the important thing is to keep alive the opportunities of choice, that it not become only a question of the personality of one individual or another. On both sides the party machinery must express clear-cut convictions and a difference in values and the people must make the decision as to which party at any one time they think will give the best performance. This requires alertness and thinking on the part of the electorate and will mean a real growth in the democratic process.