Free Representative Government
By JOHN W. BRICKER, Governor of Ohio, and Republican Vice-Presidential nominee
Delivered before the Indiana Republican Editorial Association, French Lick, Ind., September 9, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 708-711.
IT IS an appreciated privilege to meet again with the Indiana Republican Editorial Association. The Republican party, of which you are so strong a part, has honored me with the nomination for Vice-President. Our cause is a noble one and our goal a worthy one. Humbly and sincerely, I hereby dedicate myself to our party and our country in this campaign and to public service in the years ahead.
For six years I have been privileged to serve the people of Ohio as Governor. Half of them were unsettled years of peace. Half were tragic years of war. I shall always cherish the opportunity for leadership which Ohio gave to me in this critical era. I likewise cherish the opportunity which my party now gives me to have a part in serving our nation in difficult days of reconstruction. I pledge to you, the people of America, the same constant devotion to constructive public service that I have always tried to maintain as Chief Executive of my State.
I am profoundly happy to march to victory in this campaign with a candidate who can win, our next President, Thomas E. Dewey. He will lead this nation not from one crisis to another but to solid ground whereon America once more may become the exemplar of free representative government.
Urges Dewey for Unity
We have a war to win. We have a peace to achieve. We have a free, strong, self-reliant and cooperative America to rebuild. Tom Dewey already has demonstrated his ability to unite men and women for such tremendous tasks. He can be trusted with leadership. I pledge to him my complete and enthusiastic support.
Indiana has provided great leaders in our party. Two new great leaders in our political life are arising in your State, your next Governor, a great soldier and statesman, Ralph Gates, and your next United States Senator, an able businessman and stalwart Republican, Homer Capehart. They, too, may be counted upon to strengthen our Government for the great task before us.
During recent months I have been deeply inspired by the sober interest of our people in the vital questions of our time—in the issues which you alone will decide next November—and by your determination to preserve at home that freedom and opportunity which your sons and daughters are fighting and dying to secure on battlefronts all over the world. That spirit should give all of us renewed confidence and faith in representative government. So long as it survives our republic will be secure.
Truly, this is a year of vital decision. There are many issues, but they all add up to the one transcendent issue of representative government.
Shall our American constitutional system be restored? Or shall Congress and the courts be permanently relegated to minor roles? Shall government be kept close to the hearts and hands of the American people? Or shall local authority be irrevocably usurped by a highly centralized national government? Shall America again become a land of freedom and opportunity for the individual? Or will it continue to be a land in which the individual is becoming more and more a pawn of bureaucracy?
In short, the issue of 1944 is, Shall the United States continue to be a republic?
To keep the peace of the world tomorrow is a sacred obligation. War destroys. Only in peace can we build for better living. Soon in this campaign I shall discuss how America can take her rightful place in preserving world peace. But to be helpful in the world, America must be strong and free at home. Domestic freedom and opportunity are the foundation. This I shall discuss tonight.
"Fresh Leadership" Available
This is the issue we in America must decide in this election. We remember that our system of representative government was born and nurtured in critical years, when men had only an ideal of government that was yet to be proved in the turmoil of human experience.
Because those who founded this nation had the courage to try out government by the people, on these shores and midst the storms of the eighteenth century, each generation that followed has courageously sought to keep it alive. It is for us, this year, to prove again that representative government can wage war and remain free; that to defeat tyranny in the world we need not sacrifice our constitutional rights and traditional freedom and that America possesses a reservoir of fresh leadership to which it can safely turn, even in the heat of conflict, and upon which it must rely to keep us a virile nation.
The most liberal government the world has ever known is that in which the individual citizen is the source of all power. The American Republic was intended to be that kind of system. It was called "Government by the consent of the governed."
The most reactionary system of government is that in which the individual lives and moves and has his being only by sufferance of the government. From its inception, the New Deal has been moving in that direction. It believes that you, the people, are not competent to determine your own needs and that you are unable to govern yourselves. It reasons, therefore, that the Government must order every act of your personal lives, every day, from morning until night and from the cradle to the grave.
Quotes "Prophet" of New Deal
To understand how the New Deal really proposes to change this nation, it is sufficient to read from its prophets. One of them, Rexford Guy Tugwell, a year before the New Deal came to power, made these startling statements:
"We have a century and more of development to undo * * *." Think of that—a design to undo the greatest century of development of any nation in the history of the world. It was further said:
"The first series of changes will have to do with statutes, with constitutions and with government * * * it will require the laying of rough, unholy hands on many a sacred precedent, doubtless calling on an enlarged and nationalized police power for enforcement. We shall have to give up a distinction. * * * Between private and public * * * employments. There is no private business * * * exempt from compulsion to serve a planned public interest. Furthermore, we shall have to * * * recognize that only the Federal area, and often not even that, is large enough to be co-extensive with modern industry, and that consequently the States are wholly ineffective instruments for control * * * it has already been suggested that business will logically be required to disappear. This is not an overstatement for the sake of emphasis; it is literally meant."
Mr. Tugwell, the New Deal prophet, uttered those words in December, 1931. He has occupied, and he still occupies, a high administrative post. His words embrace the master pattern of the New Deal.
The President lost no time in adopting that pattern. "Our task now," he said in 1933, "is not discoveries or exploitation of natural resources or necessarily of producing more goods. It is the less dramatic business of administering resources and plants already in hand."
New Deal Arraigned
And so the New Deal launched a program of management. It was unintelligent, uncompromising, dominating and incoherent management. Governmental planners were hostile to risk capital. They stifled small business, forced distribution of their earnings and made it impossible for them to expand.
They repeatedly devise tax legislation, not primarily to raise needed revenues, but as an under-cover method of promoting dangerous social theories. They saddled upon the individual and business complicated questionnaires, reports and red tape. They placed both industry and agriculture in a governmental strait-jacket.
But that is not all. In fulfillment of prophecy, the New Deal planners laid "rough, unholy hands on many a sacred precedent," and they called on "an enlarged and nationalized police force for enforcement." They constructed gigantic bureaucracy and used it for their own political ends. 1 Congress was relegated to an inferior position by a servile New Deal majority. Even the purse strings were surrendered to the Executive through lump sum appropriations.
They likewise sought to make over the executive branch of the Federal Government. To quote the Declaration of Independence, they "erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance." Boards, bureaus and commissions multiplied. Our people have been literally deluged with orders, decrees and directives that pour from these agencies day and night.
The Federal payrolls skyrocketed until now there are some 3,500,000 Federal civil employes.
Charges Reaching for Power
The traditional Cabinet departments are overshadowed and have almost been supplanted by agencies under the direct control of the President. Lines of authority and responsibility became confused and even obliterated.
Every conceivable political device was employed to build the power of the Executive.
Then came the attack on the Supreme Court. It failed, but through continuing Presidential tenure its purposes were finally achieved. A substantial majority of all the Federal judges now have been appointed by the New Deal President. Too often those appointees possessed nothing more than the doubtful qualification of being New Deal political followers.
The program likewise included the constant suppression and oppression of State and local governments. Local authority was circumvented and usurped. Money was granted to State and local governments upon condition that control be surrendered to Washington.
The New Deal in 1935 even wanted to divide the nation into ten or twelve districts or "little Washingtons." Each district, of course, would have been under the jurisdiction of a Federal administrator. The real purpose was to relegate the States to obscurity.
The report of the National Resources Committee said that many citizens might consider themselves as belonging to one region for one purpose and to an adjoining region for another. In other words, there was to be a paramount, if not exclusive, loyalty to the Federal Government.
Fortunately the proposal was not adopted even though the National Resources Committee which advocated it Included five cabinet members and Harry Hopkins.
Cites "Audacious" Statement
So bold did the planners become that the Attorney General of the United States recently had the audacity to declareno business in this country is immune from seizure."
Here then is the New Deal record of almost twelve long years. The New Deal candidate recently made his only recorded admission of fault when he said "we have made mistakes." I say to you that these were not mistakes. They were the cold, calculated and deliberate acts of an Administration that sought as its prophets predicted: "to undo a century of development—to change statutes, constitutions and government—and to lay rough unholy hands on many a sacred precedent."
In spite of this record the New Deal now asks for a fourth term. Again it has the sinister support of notoriously corrupt political machines such as those of Hague of New Jersey Kelly of Chicago and Pendergast of Missouri. In addition, it has the fervent support of Sidney Hillman and his Political Action Committee*
It is no secret that this committee, including its communistic adherents, proposes to buy this election with money extracted from the honest and patriotic workers of this country. It likewise is no secret that Sidney Hillman and his committee are now in complete control of the New Deal party.
Our people will not soon forget the sorry spectacle of the Democratic National Convention. It was Hillman and the big city bosses who made the secret decisions that controlled that convention. Nor will they ever forget the Presidential instructions to the Democratic chairman from a railway car of the Commander in Chief on a side track in Chicago, to "clear everything with Sidney."
Party "Delivered" to Hillman
In that tense command the New Deal candidate delivered the Democratic party into the hands of Sidney Hillman, the radical leader of the Political Action Committee.
I am sure that the great majority of working people, union members and union leaders alike, resent the intrusion of Sidney Hillman into a great political party and into their private business of casting a free and unintimidated vote. They are Americans and they cherish sacred American rights. They know as you and I know that any impairment of that right by a radical and communistic labor element will in the end defeat the honorable and legitimate aims of organized labor in this country.
In its alliances with Hague and Kelly and Hannegan and Hillman and Browder, the New Deal has achieved a new low in American politics. The vast body of decent American Voters will not travel in such political company. The cynical and sinister bid for power of this unholy alliance will be overwhelmingly rejected. This nation proposes to remain American.
In contrast to the New Deal program, the Republican party proposes to re-establish liberty at home. Our goal also is to prevent hardship and poverty in America—to provide opportunity and security and to promote social betterment. Such a goal can be solidly achieved only if we give full scope to individual incentive and American ingenuity and turn our backs finally and completely on alien philosophies of government.
Lists "Constructive" Steps
Let us then consider the first steps in a constructive program.
First, we must clean our governmental house of the debris with which it is now cluttered and which has been accumulating during eleven years of the New Deal. To clean house means that we must get rid of needless bureaucracy. Unbridled bureaucracy is a deadly growth in our body politic and it can only be removed through a major operation. It will be removed this year through the election of the Republican ticket, including Republican Senators and Congressmen. Such an election will put the reins of Government back into the hands of the duty elected representatives of the people.
Second, we must restore responsible Cabinet Government in Washington. All agencies, boards, bureaus and commissions which are not performing essential governmental functions must be immediately liquidated.
In this way we shall get rid of the costly political featherbeds in Washington. Cabinet members must and under the administration of Thomas E. Dewey will be chosen on the basis of their qualifications for the job. They will be charged with full authority and they will be held personally responsible. Essential governmental agencies now having independent status should and will be placed under Cabinet jurisdiction wherever possible.
Executive abuse of power, confused lines of authority, duplication of effort, inadequate fiscal controls, loose personnel practices and bureaucratic arrogance must and will be ended. Harmony in Government and a balance between legislative and executive responsibility must and will be restored. Under such a program we shall eliminate confusion, inefficiency and conflict at home. We shall build confidence and faith in the future.
To End "Reckless" Trend
Third, the Republican party proposes to end the reckless trend toward centralization of all power in the Federal
Government. Unless that trend is ended State and local governments sooner or later will be reduced to provincial administrative units—mere satellites revolving about an all-powerful national planet. Self-government can survive only so long as the people are given a chance to practice it by keeping government close to home. The more of history that is written at the nation's crossroads, and the less at Washington, the freer and happier our people will be.
This does not mean that the Federal Government will cease to respond to social needs. Changes in economic and social conditions do require, from time to time, a reallocation of governmental functions. It does mean, however, that the reaching out for power by the Federal Government under the guise of social reform but actually for the sake of power alone must be ended.
Already a solution of this problem has been pointed out by the Republican party. At St. Louis, under the able leadership of Governor Dewey, the twenty-six Republican Governors studied this question with reference to fourteen major issues ranging from agriculture to welfare. After dealing with these specific issues they arrived at this conclusion:
"The great objectives we have here sought for America cannot be accomplished, either by a constant grasping for power on the part of the Federal Government or through a stubborn resistance by the States to the participation of the Federal Government in a developing and increasing complicated society. They can be reached only through cooperation. And a determination to make our system work in the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution."
In any such meeting of Republican Governors next year, Ralph Gates will be there. And while speaking of Republican leadership in this cause, we must always remember the contribution already made by the valiant Republican members of Congress.
"Great Problem" Is Jobs
Finally, the Republican party proposes to create in this country an atmosphere of opportunity for the individual. The one great problem after the war is jobs—honest jobs— productive jobs. We propose to put men and women to work in private industry as promptly as possible after victory. We propose to give special attention to those who have served in our armed forces.
Made-work and Government spending never can be an adequate substitute for honest jobs and private employment. More than that, our fighting sons abroad and our loyal workers at home want honest jobs in private employment. To accomplish this great objective, business must be freed from its shackles and Government must be taken out of competition with private industry.
Rationing, price-fixing and all other emergency powers must be terminated as quickly as possible. Detailed regulation of farmers, workers, businessmen and consumers must be avoided. Abundant production in agriculture and industry must be substituted for the New Deal program of scarcity. War contracts must be promptly settled and surplus Government plants and property must be equitably disposed of Small business must be encouraged. Taxes must be reduced. Economy in the Federal Government must conscientiously be practiced. The integrity of the American dollar must be protected.
These and countless other steps must be taken if needed jobs are to be provided after the war. They will be taken by a Republican Administration.
The New Deal has demonstrated that it cannot provide jobs without a war. It cannot maintain free representative Government. It will not trust the people. It is time to elect a President who will clear everything, not with Sidney, but with Congress and the American people. Thomas E. Dewey is that man.