The Charlotte News

Monday, November 4, 1940



Site Ed. Note: The notion expressed below in "Winner Take All" regarding shaping policies with the minority vote in mind regardless of how close an election may be is a good one for our leaders to bear in mind always, especially nowadays. If the minority is to be ignored by an administration or by Congress as a whole, if the minority opinion is to be given only lip service, then what happened to France in 1940 could happen here one day, and by stealth, not by the overt process of armed forces. For it is the minority voice, whether "wrong" or "right", whether Republican or Democrat or some other, whether "Conservative" or "Liberal", which is always the savior of democracy, anywhere. Stamp it out, chill it, give it no regard and before long a form of fascism, one-speak, takes over, based on some ill-minded I-before-thou prejudice. It is that mindset which is the evildoer, not particular people.

"A Caution" correctly tells us what happens to those, whether parties or nations or individuals, who impose their will on others, neglecting their opinions and desires, neglecting that minority opinion, in a purely authoritarian, totalitarian manner. Indeed, France did not pay; Germany did, and for fully half a century afterward. Today, Germany appears as a model of democracy in most respects and one from which other nations may learn. Indeed, we may learn by reflection from what has been created abroad largely through our post-war efforts; we are not perfect and we cannot go stamping through the world in an unguarded unilateral way, lest we ultimately become, if not in reality at least in the perception of those abroad, that which we fought to disabuse Germany of not that long ago. It is more complex in formulating policy to debate matters and take into account an opinion embraced by less than a majority of our people, but debate always we must to preserve democracy. Rather than simply thumbing through opinion polls or determining which side has the biggest following or the biggest pocketbook, we must endeavor always to be inclusive of every opinion held by substantial numbers of people in this most pluralistic of societies. Otherwise, indeed, our government becomes but a "sliderule" and our leaders, "rambunctious politicians".

And in the following piece, we make observation that it sounds as though Cash wouldn't have been unhappy if Early hadn't been late. But then, we wouldn't know of this little incident in 1940 instructive of a part of human nature, so sometimes being late has its instructive purposes, even if considered rude by the majority forced to wait.

Unhappy Man

Ghost of Burchard Haunts Steve Early These Days

The unhappiest man in Washington just now is probably Steve Early, the President's secretary. For it is possible that he may turn out to have been Mr. Roosevelt's Dr. Burchard.

Last Monday night the President's train was standing in the Pennsylvania station at New York. Guarding it were picked New York cops, among whom was the Negro, James Sloan. By some error, the cops had been given strict orders to let nobody board the train.

Appeared Mr. Early with a group of 30 newspaper men whom he wanted to get on the train. The cops barred the way. Early showed his credentials, and so did the news men. But the cops remained obdurate. Tempers rose, there was shoving. Mr. Early, according to his own account, "kneed" somebody who was roughing him up. Next day the Negro policeman was in the hospital, and the Republicans were gleefully telling Harlem that he had been kicked in the stomach by Early and not omitting to call attention to the fact that Early is a Southerner.

In Washington Mr. Early is writhing and sweating blood, in an attempt to smooth the matter over before election day. For the Harlem vote it may well decide whether or not Mr. Roosevelt carries New York, and whether or not be carries New York may settle the question of the election.

All together, it is anything but a pretty picture. Every intelligent defender of democracy, and regardless of his sympathies as between the two candidates, must resent the thought that anything so idiotic as this could decide the most important election in many years. Yet the foolish speech of Burchard about "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" did finish off Blaine and elect Cleveland. And history may now repeat.

A Caution

Which, However, Runs a Bit Ahead of the Event

The conclusion of the deal between Hitler and traitor Laval for the final humiliation of France was accompanied by loud Nazi professions of humane sweetness and light. But the nature of the Nazi animal naturally revolts against that before long.

And so we find "authorized, spokesmen" in Berlin cautioning that, while the good nice Nazis are going to be just all peaches and cream, it still has to be remembered that "France started and lost the war, hence must pay."

France, of course, did not make the war, though if the Nazis win that story will prevail. The nation that made this war is named Germany. And it made it solely and absolutely by itself by following the counsel of one man-- named Adolf Hitler.

But that will not matter if the Nazis win. In that case, the story that France made the war will prevail, and France will certainly have to pay--beyond the dizziest dream of the most brutal mind which has hitherto appeared. The plan is to stamp out French civilization and to reduce the French people to abject slavery forever. And the mercy the Germans are talking about will only be the mercy of a cat caressing a mouse.

But the Berlin braggarts are a little precipitate and perhaps a little rash. The war isn't lost yet. If England wins, France will rise again. And she will not pay. The nation which will pay will be named Germany, and will pay in the terms it itself has cooked up.


Two Firms

Eastman's Stand Contrasts With That of Bethlehem

A notable contrast to Bethlehem Steel is furnished by Eastman Kodak.

Bethlehem built ships for the United States during World War I, built them fast and well. But under the cost-plus system in use, it piled up astounding profits. And recently it has been suing for the collection of an unpaid balance of these profits, running to $13,000,000, which the Treasury had persistently refused to pay on the ground that Bethlehem had already profited enough.

The United States Circuit Court called the claim "robbery by daylight" but upheld it as legal. The fight is now scheduled to be carried to the Supreme Court by Attorney-General Jackson who wants to set a precedent against such exorbitant profits in the present emergency.

Eastman, at least, will give him no trouble. It has announced that any profits it makes on Government contracts in excess of 10 per cent will be handed back to the Government. And Eastman does a great deal of work for the Army and Navy. The company is guaranteed no profit at all, of course, may suffer loss. And if it makes 10 percent, that will be anything else but pure velvet. The 10 per cent will be subject to income and excess profits taxes, which at the present rates are calculated to absorb about two-thirds of it.

The rule cannot fairly be applied to all industrials of course. Eastman is a solidly established firm in a highly standardized business, where cost can be figured with great accuracy. But the action is nevertheless a single and heart-warming example of patriotism.


Winner Take All

Size of the Vote Needn't Be Determinant of Policies

Fortune's last-minute poll, printed in this afternoon's News, gives President Roosevelt some 1,500,000 more popular votes than either the American Opinion Forecasts or Dr. Gallup. Fortune's percentage of the decided voters is split 55.2 for Roosevelt and the balance for Willkie, yet the magazine is at pains to point out, as are both of the other polls, that it is electoral votes which really count and that the excess of popular over electoral votes for Roosevelt in the South may well presage one of the closest decisions since the Wilson-Hughes photo finish in 1916.

A great many of the people who are voting for Roosevelt somewhat reluctantly, because of international considerations and in spite of domestic considerations, agree that for him to be re-elected by the skin of his teeth would serve a useful purpose. In that case, 1940's mandate, unlike that of 1936, would presumably be to tone down the most objectionable of his policies and to give aid to the strong sentiment against the third term and the concentration of power in the Executive.

And for the election of Willkie by a narrow margin, it doubtless follows that this too would constitute notice to the new Administration to proceed with caution, to discard only that which was insupportable and to set a course which was calculated on a near-exact division of popular sentiment.

This post mortem is based, we must remember, on the predictions of the polls that the race is going to be close. If it should turn out to be a walk away in either direction, it would argue in raw logic that Roosevelt had a mandate to go the limit in the direction of his previous terms, or that Willkie was a new broom empowered to sweep as clean as he knew how.

Which goes to show, we submit, the essential foolishness of the contention that a close vote ought to govern the winner's policies. In a democracy a minority is due a decent regard from the majority in power whether it is a 49.9 per cent minority or a 30 per cent minority. And a President put into office with a margin of 15,000,000 popular votes falls heir to not a bit more authority than when he receives fewer popular votes than his opponent.

In fine, a wise President, as opposed to a rambunctious politician, ought to be governed at all times, regardless of the extent of his following, by principles which have only the good of the country as a whole in view, the rights of all its people. If he should essay to formulate policies based on the percentage of votes he has received, he would end up with precious little policy of any kind and become a mere slide rule.


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