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Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 11, 2012

 
"It is best not to straddle ideals"

by digby

I have had the great pleasure to screen a couple of episodes of Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznik's new series for Showtime called The Untold History of the United States. I'll have more to say about it later on, but I did want to highlight this one bit that Michael Moore posted on his site today.

In 1940, as most of the world was fighting and the US was still struggling to come out of the depression, Roosevelt was heading for an unprecedented third term. He wanted to dump his conservadem VP John Nance Garner because of his hostility to the New Deal and nominate his Secretary of Agriculture, the liberal Henry Wallace. The conservadems tried to block Wallace at the convention and an exasperated Roosevelt wrote a letter to be read to the gathered delegates. This is that letter:

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.

Plus ca change, yada yada yada, eh?

By the way, he didn't have to deliver it because Eleanor managed the floor for Wallace and he made it on the ticket. What happened to him in 1944 and beyond is another, thoroughly depressing, story that is covered in depth in the Showtime series.

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