Sunday, April 15, 2012

Harold E Stassen's Keynote (continued)

     The last post was the opening remarks that Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen made as the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in 1940.  His remarks as still valid today as we continue:

            As we face the future we see plainly that if this nation is to fulfill its high destiny, if we are to make America strong, and our way of life secure, whether the next years be years of peace or of conflict, we must advance with a decisive and determined step upon four major fronts:
                 The front of National Preparedness.
                 The front of Fifth Column Defense.
                 The front of Domestic Economic Welfare. 
                 The front of Governmental Effectiveness and Integrity.        

(I will only repost two of these fronts, the domestic and governmental effectiveness)

  Domestic Economic Welfare

     What of our advance upon the front of Domestic Economic Welfare?  First, let us make clear the general features of this advance.  No one shall suffer for want of food, shelter, or clothing.  The needs of that portion of our population who have no other means of livelihood shall be met by society as a whole acting through its government.  But it must be equally clear that this is not the answer to our problem.  After meeting the immediate need, the great challenge before the nation shall be to furnish more real jobs for the unemployed in private industry.  We must recognize that in a free economy, government, in meeting the need of its people who are unemployed, is not solving a problem, but is only temporarily easing the consequences of an unsolved problem.
     We must recognize that the answer to all of our problems of a domestic nature is not to shrug our shoulders and say "Let the government do it."  The role of government must be that of an aid to private enterprise, and not of a substitute for it.  More and better jobs, better housing and improved living conditions can best be secured through recognition of this principle.
     There has been talk to the nation of a more abundant life.  In a vain attempt to secure it the government has gone from a greedy contest over the division of past accumulations of production to an irresponsible squandering of mortgages on the future.
     We must exercise to the least possible degree the powers of government to meet definite abuses, rather than using abuses as an excuse for the government to reach out and grab all the power in the name of regulation.  Those powers which government takes must be clearly divided as to legislative, executive, and judicial.  There is hardly any greater deterrent to private capital, in its desire to develop more jobs, than the morass of uncertainty which exists when great autocratic powers to be rule maker and investigator, witness and prosecutor, judge and jury are all lodged in the same bureaucratic hands.
     We must recognize further, on the domestic front, that the farmers are the very backbone of America.  The maintenance of millions of free farm families living on soil that they can call their own is one of the greatest bulwarks for future freedom.
     Aids must not be looked upon as a solution to the agricultural problem, but only as a temporary expedient to ease the maladjustment that exists.  We must seek real solutions in keeping with the natural economic forces that are involved in our system.
     Through development of more jobs and more purchasing power for consuming public, we must expand the domestic market.  We must advance in research and discovery of new uses for agricultural products.  We must furnish new jobs for the excess population upon our lands, so that instead of being a burden upon agriculture they become productive portions of our population and new units of consumption.  We must preserve, as far as it is economically sound to do so, our own markets for our own farmers.
     The great productive processes of a free people under a system of individual enterprise has made this nation the great power that it is.  It has given to our people the highest standard of living in the world.  This system has been and will be subject to its depressions and its recessions, its maladjustments and readjustments as the years roll by.  We must recognize that we gain together and we lose together.  We must continually work to readjust and correct injustices and inequalities that are present and that will arise.  Then we can have faith that this system will rise again and make ever greater progress in the interest of all of our people.      

Governmental Effectiveness and Integrity

     Events at home and abroad bring forcefully to our attention the challenge to democracy to make itself more efficient and effective without surrendering it own basic principles.  The delays and confusion of yards and yards of red tape, the waste and inefficiency of overlapping stumbling boards, bureaus, departments, divisions, and agencies, the lack of effective lines of executive authority, the intermingling of powers that are legislative, executive, and judicial -- and the proper performance of none, the incessant conflict between governments of different levels, federal, state and local -- these are the things by which Lilliputians are restraining the slumbering giant of democracy and free enterprise and making him ineffective.

     The inefficiency of our government is a travesty in a land that has developed such magnificent efficiency in private endeavor.  There is need of a sweeping, decisive reorganization of our government -- a real reorganization that streamlines our government, simplifies our procedures, consolidates and eliminates useless and overlapping boards, bureaus, and agencies, establishes simple and effective lines of executive responsibility and separates the powers that are legislative, executive and judicial.  We need in public office servants of the people selected for their merit instead of corporals of a political army enlisted at a patronage pie counter.

     It is a sad commentary that we have given the aid of our inventive genius, of our raw materials, and of our productive ability to those with philosophies foreign to ours as well as to those with philosophies similar to ours.  We have thus aided the manufacture of the implements of destruction that Russia used upon Finland, that Germany used against the Allies, that Japan uses against China, that Italy uses against France.

     It is the responsibility of government in its foreign policy to endeavor in every honorable way to create and nurture a world environment in which its people can proceed along life's path in peace, expanding their material well-being and developing their way of life.  It is thus also clear that our interests lie with the encouragement of freedom and progress for all mankind and the development of order among nations based upon eternal moral and spiritual laws, rather that upon lawless force of economic strangulation.  Failing in the creation of that environment, it is the clear duty of government to make its people strong in their own defense, to so prepare them that other portions of the world may not stamp out their way of life and may not encroach upon their well-being.

     The great need for our future foreign policy is a leadership that is frank and fair with people.  The people must have confidence that their leaders place the nation's welfare above their own political future.  the people must know that their leaders, while resolute in support of these basic policies, nevertheless have the earnest hope to keep this nation out of war.

     Have we been too harsh in our judgement?  No.  In fact, we have not even referred to the strong self-indictment of the obvious effort to break down one of our bulwarks of freedom by violating the third-term tradition.  Cleverly and surreptitiously this administration has strengthened the iron-hand control of the President over the Democratic party.  Building upon the corrupt political machines of Kelly and Nash and Hague and their kind, it has erected as a superstructure a political machine such as this country has never before seen.  Democracy within the Democratic party has been destroyed.
     Let us fully recognize that this very situation is an added challenge to our party.  We must furnish the leadership for the men and women of all parties.  To do so we must make our party truly representative of the people, independent of domination by any group, and fair to all.

     Fellow delegates, if we could reverse the magic of radio tonight, if we could turn the millions of radio receiving sets throughout this land into microphones, and if we could turn our microphone here in this great convention hall into a receiving set, we would hear an overwhelming message sweeping in upon us.  It would be a cry for statesmanlike leadership to make America strong and our way of life secure.  Shall we rise to meet this challenge?  Let us proceed with our deliberations.

     Let us present to the people of this nation a program worthy of their support.  Let us nominate a man to carry out that program, a man the people will elect the next President of these United States.

     Let us remember the words George Washington spoke in this very city:  "If to please the people we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work?  Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.  The event is in the hands of God."

Peaslee, Amos J., Man Was Meant To Be Free, Selected statements of Governor Harold E Stassen 1940-1951, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1951, pp 7, 9-13

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