Astonishment eventually wears off, and the open season for explanations is on. But even so, I'm glad I don't have the job of explaining for the Literary Digest. If they are wise they will simply admit their poll has lost its charm, and let it go at that.
But the landslide. Whew! I'm still gasping three days after the event, but I've got to catch the reactions while they're hot. Another week may be too late. Only a few days ago we couldn't escape from violent tirades from all directions. Now there is just the rumbling of distant thunder. The contrast makes me think of the soothing silence effected by a well-directed ripe tomato on anyone who dares to try to learn to play the saxophone outside of the desert of Sahara.
Now there is a sense of elation which follows a one-sided victory which makes anything but "Hurrah" seem ridiculous. But I'll risk your scorn, for I really don't care whether you agree with me or not. That is the tough part of being a preacher: he has to try to please everyone. Not so, we columnists. I speak with authority; is not this my fifth column?
The sweetest words in the English language are "I told you so". No, I am not referring Farley, for I don't believe even he dreamt it. Back in January, 1934, a student of the depression made the statement that on the basis of the laws of probability the Democrats would emerge today with a feather in their collective hat. And so I ask: Isn't it a foregone conclusion that prosperity keeps the ins in, and depression put the ins out? Why? Simply because it is human to blame anybody but ourselves.
The Republicans were right in principles but were a way off the track in spending most their energies attacking administration policies. Only positive rays of hope can sway the people when they are on the up grade; and negative on the down grade. Time and again I heard the remark befor election "That may all be true, but I'm going to vote for Roosevelt."
There is a psychological aspect of the election which is most difficult for anyone who has had any kind of a job throughout the depression to discern. Politicians have talked glibly about starvation and depression, but that fear when faced by an individual is so fundamental that little is left but an animal instinct to live. Even those who merely live on decreased incomes have to fight the degrading effect of these fears. Many have profited by this discipline; but many more succumb to worry. In olden days such people could realize the best in their nature by pioneering in the West. But no such outlet exists today. Hence the growing tendency to become dependent on a paternal government.
The trouble is, we haven't begun realy to feel the effects of the spending spree. But that day of reckoning is coming just as surely as it was before the election. Is there any difference between the mass of individuals spending beyond their means in 1929 and individuals en masse spending beyond their means in 1936? We are forever looking for an elixir of life rather than changing our habits to conform to natural laws.
If I were to say that "all of the people can be fooled some of the time" you would laugh at me; so I won't say it. But I will say that Tolstoy's "intuitive rightness of the masses" is sentimental nonsense.
It is unfortunate that the decision was so unanimous; the check of a healthy minority is most desirable in a democracy. The President has always had a fearful responsibility, but now that he has complete control he can make terrific mistakes or rise to great heights. We are witnessing the extraordinary paradox of reposing the powers of Mussolini in one man, by popular choice, after a campaign in which all issues were presented fairly and thoroughly.
Don't worry any more about Fascism coming to America. It's here! It's all a matter of degree, though, and only time will tell the final extent to which we go. I predict that the new bureaucrats will continue to perpetuate and enlarge themselves. We think we have a benevolent autocracy, and it is entirely possible we shall prosper as long as the autocrat can keep the bureaucrats within reason.
America is gambling.
Go To Next entry Return to entry dates