FEBRUARY 5, 1959
WASHINGTON—In my travels over the past few days I have been impressed by the fact that so many people are beginning to think seriously about the next Presidential election. And the policies of the Democrats under the Democratic leadership in the present Congress seem to be coming under rather careful scrutiny.
Nearly everyone, it seems, concedes that Senator Lyndon Johnson is extraordinarily able, and as the majority leader in the Senate has been showing both ability and cleverness.
On the other hand, many people speak to me about Senator John Kennedy, Senator Stuart Symington and Senator Hubert Humphrey, and sometimes even a seldom-heard name will crop up.
Also, every once in a while something will be said in a well-written letter, such as one that came to me the other day from a Democrat in St. Louis. I give it to you here as a quote:
"I am rather inclined to quibble with terminology when I hear it said—as did William S. White in a recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch—that his (Adlai Stevenson's) biggest handicap is severe, in that he lost the past two elections.'
"I submit that although he did lose the office, I would say that he has won the election—that is, the leadership of our country in ideas, which he has been and still is exercising to such a great degree, with more and more resulting respect for even the controversial subjects in which he was far ahead of popular thinking in 1952 and 1956, and courageous enough morally and intellectually to dare politically."
This is better expressed, perhaps, than what is said by the average man in the street, but a good many of the people who speak to me seem to have somewhat the same idea. I am glad to see people beginning to think so early. We'll need a lot of thinking before 1960.
Among the things we need to think about at the present time is our great difficulty with our farm policy. The President says we need to change our farm policy. As far as our farms are concerned we seem to have had a policy that has been helpful to the large business farms and harmful to the small family farms. There must be ways of managing these difficulties.
In Denmark, for instance, which has a reputation for its successful farming, the problems seem to poss no serious dilemmas. And it is not an answer to say that Denmark is a small country.
It is necessary for us to take much more trouble, to think out our objectives more clearly and to begin to think of our surplus agricultural production as a blessing which can be used in many different ways. It makes no sense to people in the world who are hungry that we pay to keep land out of production, that we have vast amounts of food far beyond what should wisely be kept in storage and on which we pay storage, and still many people cannot get enough to eat.
The argument is that we cannot afford to sell farm products in the world market because our cost of production is greater and we, therefore, set a higher price within our own country. But it would perhaps be cheaper to put some of the money we are spending now into equalizing the world price and devising a method for distribution of our surpluses.
This whole question deserves long study and should be faced immediately in cooperation with the United Nations specialized agency of food and agriculture.