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Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:53 AM

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt Letter Criticizing Democratic Party and Declining 1940 Nomination

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt made plans to run for a third term in 1940 he decided to drop conservative Vice President John Nance Garner from the ticket...Instead Roosevelt chose Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace. However, many of Garner's fellow conservative Democrats...despised Wallace for his liberalism and attempted to block his nomination at the convention...

Below is the letter which Roosevelt drafted, in which he vowed not to run if his fellow Democrats blocked his choice of Wallace. (In the end the letter was never sent, as a speech by Eleanor Roosevelt turned the tide for Wallace at the convention.) Roosevelt's letter, with its powerful critique of the Democratic Party, was published almost nowhere and was essentially unknown before it appeared in Oliver Stone's new Showtime documentary series Untold History of the United States...

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/must-read/franklin-d-roosevelt-letter-declining-1940-democratic-party-nomination


Franklin D. Roosevelt Letter to the Democratic Convention

July 18, 1940

Members of the Convention:

In the century in which we live, the Democratic Party has received the support of the electorate only when the party, with absolute clarity, has been the champion of progressive and liberal policies and principles of government.

The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.

The Republican Party has made its nominations this year at the dictation of those who, we all know, always place money ahead of human progress.

The Democratic Convention, as appears clear from the events of today, is divided on this fundamental issue. Until the Democratic Party through this convention makes overwhelmingly clear its stand in favor of social progress and liberalism, and shakes off all the shackles of control fastened upon it by the forces of conservatism, reaction, and appeasement, it will not continue its march of victory.

It is without question that certain political influences pledged to reaction in domestic affairs and to appeasement in foreign affairs have been busily engaged behind the scenes in the promotion of discord since this Convention convened.

Under these circumstances, I cannot, in all honor, and will not, merely for political expediency, go along with the cheap bargaining and political maneuvering which have brought about party dissension in this convention.

It is best not to straddle ideals.

In these days of danger when democracy must be more than vigilant, there can be no connivance with the kind of politics which has internally weakened nations abroad before the enemy has struck from without.

It is best for America to have the fight out here and now.

I wish to give the Democratic Party the opportunity to make its historic decision clearly and without equivocation. The party must go wholly one way or wholly the other. It cannot face in both directions at the same time.

By declining the honor of the nomination for the presidency, I can restore that opportunity to the convention. I so do.

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Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply Franklin D. Roosevelt Letter Criticizing Democratic Party and Declining 1940 Nomination (Original post)
HiPointDem Nov 2012 OP
yends21012 Nov 2012 #1
UnrepentantLiberal Nov 2012 #2
TahitiNut Nov 2012 #3
dotymed Nov 2012 #16
ananda Nov 2012 #18
Scuba Nov 2012 #4
DhhD Nov 2012 #5
patricia92243 Nov 2012 #6
Hydra Nov 2012 #31
Larry Ogg Nov 2012 #7
xchrom Nov 2012 #8
Octafish Nov 2012 #9
99Forever Nov 2012 #10
SidDithers Nov 2012 #11
NYC Liberal Nov 2012 #15
bread_and_roses Nov 2012 #23
Octafish Nov 2012 #29
bread_and_roses Nov 2012 #30
Cerridwen Nov 2012 #24
aandegoons Nov 2012 #12
pocoloco Nov 2012 #13
Larry Ogg Nov 2012 #26
starroute Nov 2012 #14
BridgeTheGap Nov 2012 #19
WI_DEM Nov 2012 #17
BlueStreak Nov 2012 #20
heaven05 Nov 2012 #21
mckara Nov 2012 #22
George II Nov 2012 #25
grantcart Nov 2012 #27
RepublicansRZombies Nov 2012 #28
pa28 Nov 2012 #32

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:06 AM

1. What was true then, is true now.

And just as applicable.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:34 AM

2. Roosevelt was a well known troll

 

and should have had his Democratic Party privileges revoked.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:49 AM

3. He was a DINO

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:10 AM

16. I am a Proud, "New Deal Democrat."

He is correct. The Party must face only one way, Social Progress and Liberalism.

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Response to dotymed (Reply #16)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:32 AM

18. Me too!

I like FDR for that willlingness to stand up to conservatives!
And boy was Eleanor a jewel!

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:16 AM

4. "It is best not to straddle ideals." This should be required reading for all Democrats.

Thanks for posting, HiPointDem.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:17 AM

5. The 1938 elections was responsible for seating Republicans in Congress who were bent on ending the

New Deal. How many Democratics in Congress were joining them to stop the recovery from the Great Depression?

Democratics had let go of control of the RECOVERY (1936-40) just as FDR infers in his draft letter written in 1940 but NOT delivered to the DNC.

It took WWII to get us out of the Recession that Conservatives and Middle Democratics moved the country to, in 1939 and 1940.

Are Democratics going to lose control of Social Security over the next two years and allow it to be privatized off to Wall Street? There are too many IOUs out on the Trust fund now. Democratics should insist that the IOUs are called in soon by the Trust Fund instead of going along with Conservatives to say that the Trust is broken.

In 1983, The Greenspan Commission raised the level of premiums paid into SS so the Reagan Administration could loan it out. Both Clinton and Reagan used the Trust IOUs to pay down the deficient.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:18 AM

6. "Republicans always place money before human progress" People never

change. He could have been talking about today.

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Response to patricia92243 (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:35 PM

31. All of this could be talking about today

Except FDR isn't in office. It's kinda spooky really, since President Obama is trying to work as if we've somehow moved on from this sort of split in the nation.

I don't think one can bridge the gap between putting people first vs. putting money first by following some sort of middle path.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:24 AM

7. It makes me ill to think about how conservative the Democratic Party really is.

Of course, the owners of the smoke and mirror two party pageantry wouldn't allow any thing else, as both parties are given the task of keeping "true liberals" marginalized, and or out of government.

And it wont be long before they throw out the liberal values as well.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:25 AM

8. du rec. nt

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:28 AM

9. FDR would be shocked to see how many Democrats today still put money ahead of people.

I know he wouldn't stand with them. We are going to see how many Democrats do in the coming year.

Thank you for posting this, HiPointDem! Austerity is not only for the 99-percent, it's multi-generational.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:33 AM

10. Read this, 3rd way tools:

"The party must go wholly one way or wholly the other. It cannot face in both directions at the same time."

Until this truth is embraced and taken to heart, your crap will continue to divide the Democratic Party.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:34 AM

11. Executive Order 9066...

now that was some progressive policy.



Sid

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Response to SidDithers (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:07 AM

15. Now imagine if Obama were to round up all Arab Americans into prison camps solely for being Arab.

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Response to SidDithers (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:50 AM

23. And that negates the truth of the letter exactly how?

Roosevelt was neither perfect nor a saint - though I admit it took me a long time to realize that, having grown up with a mother who'd been born in 1930 to a very poor family and to whom he was exactly that. Her only political advice to us growing up? "Never, never, never - under any circumstances, for any reason - vote for a Republican. They are only for the rich and don't care about people like us." A statement which shows a far greater grasp of political/economic realities than you will hear from most working class people today - thanks to a Democratic Party which never actually articulates who and what is screwing them. You can thank Roosevelt for making it clear to people then. Oh - and Mum voted for Obama btw - both times. And her Dem candidates down-line. All of them. Thank Roosevelt for that, too (she's in PA) - because believe me, she's quite sharp enough to know that not all of them will stand up for her and hers. But they're not Rs.

The internment of the Japanese was a monstrous and evil act. Which does not make the statements in the letter cited any less true or pertinent today than it was then. If it implicitly points a finger at Democrats today - well, if the shoe fits .....

oh - and a K & R for the OP

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Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #23)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 01:51 PM

29. It may not be meant to.

Distracted from the point, a reader may instead ponder how FDR, come to think of it, resembles a bad Democrat rather than come to consider how Democrats today are hot to pursue bad policies -- Republican policies.

Personally, I think the New Deal was great.

Speaking of the internment of Americans of Japanese heritage in concentration camps, the guy who recommended the policy, John McCloy, is little known by people today. He's almost never mentioned in the press.

PS: A fact curiously missing from American history and any mention of the Warren Commission

Something else conservatives don't like mentioned, how the present ties back to World War II and control of The Bomb:

Fukushima, Plutonium, CIA, and the BFEE: Deep Doo-Doo Four Ways to Doomsday

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Response to Octafish (Reply #29)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:56 PM

30. You are exactly right

It's a well-worn tactic.

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Response to SidDithers (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:55 AM

24. What happens when "pragmatism" gets in

the way of ideals? for 100, Alex.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:35 AM

12. Amazing.

A person like that only comes once in a great while. Yet we need him more than ever today.

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Response to aandegoons (Reply #12)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:44 AM

13. Eleanor didn't take any BS either

and kicked ass all her life.

My DIs hated her!

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Response to aandegoons (Reply #12)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:18 AM

26. I believe that there are lots of people who are equivalent or even better than FDR however...

Not only will the owners of our government not finance their campaigns, they spend trillions of phony fiat wealth to ensure liberals, or anyone like an FDR, wont be elected, and that the government is stacked with venal sock puppet conservatives beholden to their masters.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:05 AM

14. But the Democrats did dump Wallace in 1944 in favor of Truman

To a large extent, that was Wallace's own fault -- but it was also a sign of a shift to the right within the party, and Truman was a relatively conservative and conventional choice.

My father refused to vote for Truman in 1948 but voted for the Socialist candidate Norman Thomas instead. When I asked him why, shortly before he died a few years ago, he said that he *couldn't* vote for Truman because he had been a product of machine politics in Missouri. I suspect there was more to it than that, though, and that he would have supported Truman if he'd liked his policies better.

I think my mother voted for Wallace's third-party candidacy that year, though I'm not positive. Truman's reelection has been painted in retrospect as a great victory, but at the time he was not at all popular with the left. (It's a good thint DU wasn't around then, or it would have been ripped apart.)

The question of how the country could have taken such a hard turn to the right when the Republicans took control of Congress in 1946 is one that's baffled me -- but knowing that Roosevelt was feuding with the more conservative elements in his own party as early as 1940 at least sheds some light on the mystery. It wasn't as though a nation that had been all gung ho on the New Deal suddenly turned against it. The tensions were there all along.

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Response to starroute (Reply #14)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:35 AM

19. The "Red Scare" tactics were coming back to the fore, as it was becoming clear that the

Allies were going to win the war. This rightward push has been alluded to numerous times and is fairly well documented. Stoking the fear of a powerful Soviet Union. However, when WWII vets returned home, they found that many of the hard fought labor concessions won before the war, had been rescinded in their absence. These vets were pissed and loaded for bear. They now had organized combat experience and weren't going to stand for their labor rights being trampled on. There were more strikes during the 1946-1950 period than at any other time in U.S. history.
Also there was group of veterans in New York (Hudson Valley) who were extremely upset by General Electric's polluting of the Hudson River. They were on the verge of taking direct action and taking the offending plant out, though I'm pretty sure they were planning to do it without taking life. Eventually, they decided to take the route of changing the laws. It was their early efforts that led to the Clean Water Act.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:27 AM

17. Yes, this letter has been in many FDR books, too. By 1940 he dumped Wallace

for the more moderate Truman.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:36 AM

20. "It is best not to straddle ideals" Are you listening, triangulators?

It is really remarkable what this party has made of itself, or should I say, it is remarkable just how much the most powerful interests have been able to neuter the cause of progress.

Obviously FDR was remarkable, both in saving the country from the financial ruins that the GOP left for us and in forging real social progress in a society that was headed back to feudalism. I'm not sure Truman was so remarkable, but certainly Kennedy and Johnson carried forward a share of the FDR progress.

By the time Carter was in power, the plutocrats had tipped the scale and were well in control.

And now we think we are making progress when we force Americans to buy insurance from a thoroughly corrupt health insurance industry, with a President who would never, ever allow any serious discussion about a single payer option that serves the rest of the developed world so much better than our system, and we still end up with 30 million who won't have coverage. And we have a President who equivocates every time the Republicans talk about privatizing Social Security and turning Medicare into a coupon program. He refused to even make that a key issue in the campaign. Obama is not a bad man. He just realizes how far lost the country is, in the hands of the plutocrats.

It is depressing to see how far we have fallen since FDR.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:46 AM

21. yep

I hope somehow our President can get a copy of this letter in front of him signed by 62million plus citizens.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:48 AM

22. How Many of Us Actually Understand American Democracy and Liberalism?

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:01 AM

25. Amazing how little has changed in 72 years.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:18 AM

27. Two things are very funny about this post IMO

1) Franklin owned the Democratic Party since 1932. Having led it for 8 years it was more a result of his creation than anyone else's. Obviously Garner was HIS choice.

2) People were right to consider Henry Wallace somewhat of a loose cannon.

After Truman this great 'progressive' endorsed both Eisenhower and Nixon for President



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_A._Wallace#Later_career

Wallace resumed his farming interests, and resided in South Salem, New York. During his later years he made a number of advances in the field of agricultural science. His many accomplishments included a breed of chicken that at one point accounted for the overwhelming majority of all egg-laying chickens sold across the globe. The Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the largest agricultural research complex in the world, is named for him.

In 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, Wallace broke with the Progressives and backed the U.S.-led war effort in the Korean War. In 1952, Wallace published Where I Was Wrong, in which he explained that his seemingly-trusting stance toward the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin stemmed from inadequate information about Stalin's excesses and that he, too, now considered himself an anti-Communist. He wrote various letters to "people who he thought had traduced (maligned) him" and advocated the re-election of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.

In 1961, President-elect John F. Kennedy invited him to his inauguration ceremony, though he had supported Kennedy's opponent Richard Nixon.
A touched Wallace wrote to Kennedy: "At no time in our history have so many tens of millions of people been so completely enthusiastic about an Inaugural Address as about yours."

Wallace first experienced the onsets of Lou Gehrig's disease on one of his frequent trips to South America in 1954. He died in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1965. His remains were cremated at Grace Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the ashes interred in Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa.





Wallace was one of Roosevelt's worst mistakes. Roosevelt remains my favorite President but having been in charge for 12 years he made some missteps and Wallace was one of them, obviously Roosevelt realized that because he dumped Wallace for Truman. How progressives can cheer Wallace given his opposition to Kennedy is beyond me.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:57 AM

28. love this!!!!!

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:06 PM

32. Roosevelt was a batshit crazy intrasigent progressive purist.

What part of the natural synthesis of ideas and the Hegelian dialectic did he not understand?

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