fresh voices from the front lines of change







Here’s a little something for the “some things never change” files:

Here’s a radio speech 11/5/34 from Chairman Henry P. Fletcher, Republican National Committee:

“We face unusual obstacles. Our party organizations everywhere have been handicapped by lack of funds. The opposition, on the other hand, has used its easy access to the Federal Treasury as a political campaign argument.”

The Republican party was just as sincerely interested in the return of good times as the “political philanthropists,” he said.

“But we believe our fellow-citizens prefer a steady job to a political handout,” Mr. Fletcher continued. “We know that present artificial schemes are bound to fail; and that they are merely postponing a real and lasting recovery, and adding to our burden of debt and sapping the morale of our citizens.”

11/4/34 NYT Article by Chairman Fletcher, “Against the New Deal”:

“In the final phases of the campaign there arose a new issue, one which challenges the very integrity of our form of government. I refer to the use of pubic funds by political organizations for the purpose of influencing elections.

It should be apparent to all thinking people, regardless of party affiliations, who have a real concern regarding the future of our government, that there must be an abandonment of the present system of handling public relief.

In the first place, if the Federal Government would take its hand off the throat of private enterprise, stabilize the currency and make some effort toward regulating public expenditures, an economic recovery would instantly begin that in a large measure would solve the problem of unemployment and public relief.

The whole relief problem as now handled is uneconomic and is riddled with favoritism and injustice. It is retarding recovery. The administration by the expenditure of billions of public funds has sought to create the illusion of prosperity, but it is entirely artificial. It does not and can not form a solid foundation on which to rebuild our economic structure.”

“If our representative form of government is to endure through the free expression of the will of the American electorate, that electorate must not be approached by the administration in power deliberately making the argument that only so long as it and its supporters in the several States are continued in power will the needy and the unfortunate be able to obtain that relief which a sympathetic nation has made available.

Federal funds in the last phase of this campaign have been used openly and shamelessly by Democratic party organizations to influence the election of Democratic candidates for Federal and State offices. The continuation of this practice would enable any Federal administration absolutely to destroy our political system. This requires no demonstration.”

The Roosevet administration was unmoved: Harry L. Hopkins, Roosevelt Administration Relief Administrator 11/3/34

“With the smug complacency which apparently goes with the Chairmanship of the National Republican Committee, Mr. Fletcher has seen fit to accuse me of playing politics because I am feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and sheltering the destitute, regardless of their sex, age, creed, color, race or place of residence.

If that be politics, I plead guilty, but decline to enter into argument with Mr. Fletcher. Hunger is not debatable.”

DNC Chair James Aloysius Farley 10/6/34

“I note that Chairman Fletcher of the Republican National Committee is now accusing the administration of distributing relief and emergency funds with a view to influencing the results of the coming election,” Mr. Farley said. “I do not know how we could avoid this criticism. Perhaps Mr. Fletcher’s idea is that we should have arranged for the postponement of the election, or, perhaps, he has in mind some method by which a moratorium could be arranged so that people would not get hungry until after November and therefore the regular relief disbursements might be eliminated for two or three months.”

“The disbursements go on under the Congressional enactments, regardless of time, place or politics. People without employment, without means and without relations competent or willing to take care of their need are just as destitute in August, September and October as at any other time.”

Roosevelt nomination speech excerpt 1936 Democratic Convention:

“The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody’s business. They granted that the Government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the Government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.

The brave and clear platform adopted by this Convention, to which I heartily subscribe, sets forth that Government in a modern civilization has certain inescapable obligations to its citizens, among which are protection of the family and the home, the establishment of a democracy of opportunity, and aid to those overtaken by disaster.”

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