The Charlotte News

Saturday, October 1, 1938


Site Ed. Note: To show what was brewing in the Republican Party at the time, so desperate was the attempt to gainsay the New Deal, especially as it was perceived to be leaning far too far to the left and toward a strong, centralized Federal government, especially among Southern Democrats, we include this piece by General Hugh S. Johnson. What was being discussed did not in fact occur--then. The advent of the war a year later probably intervened to arrest it. Instead, Wendell Willkie, of late a Democrat, became the 1940 Republican nominee in a brokered convention after a couple of days during which six ballots were required to obtain the necessary majority, the final choices having been between Willkie and three isolationists, most prominently the nominee of the party in the next two elections, Tom Dewey, who won the first ballot. Even the name of Herbert Hoover, yes the same Herbert Hoover who led the country into its worst economic depression ever in 1929 and failed to do anything about it except make it worse in three years afterward, had been bandied about as a compromise candidate. (See "Willkie", June 15, 1940, "Candidate", June 28, 1940, and "No Difference?" and its note of August 29, 1940.)

Nevertheless, that of which Johnson writes would become, for all intents and purposes, the battle cry of the modern Republican Party under its new Southern strategy adopted by Richard Nixon in 1968, that which had been attempted without success by Barry Goldwater in 1964, (undone then by his acceptance speech standout: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice", plus, thereafter the little girl with the daisies, ka-boom, and "In your heart you know he's right, but in your guts you know he's nuts"). The "new" Richard Nixon of 1968, however, adopted a smile and a special, cheerful wave to all the boys and girls down South to repackage the Goldwater message, toned down the bombs-away rhetoric in favor of his "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War--a peace candidate Nixon--and serpentinely managed to win election and even easy re-election in 1972.

The heavy emphasis on smaller, decentralized government, giving more autonomy to state and local government, focused especially around civil rights and busing of schoolchildren to achieve desegregation in the South and Northern metropolitan areas, designed to woo the otherwise George Wallace devotees, gave that wave special meaning in the springtimes of both 1968 and 1972. "Move to the right in the spring, and run like hell back to the center in the fall," was the way Nixon later post-summed it simply. That is, tell them what they want to hear when the birds are chirping to fresh flowers and then give them a limited dose of reality, attracting back the Republican moderates in the North and West, when the leaves are falling and the South's emotive tear-wrenchers, known to Nixon no doubt from his travels around during Duke days, are already on the rightwing bandwagon, and could care less what is being uttered from the hustings. "Dick's the One! Dangnabbit, he not gonna bus our little boys and girls 'crossed town. Dick 'll fix them long-ha'red lib'rals, alrite."

This divide among Democrats had first surfaced in the open in 1948 with the bolt from the party by the Dixiecrats led by Strom Thurmond of South Carolina as a result of the civil rights plank introduced into the party platform by soon to be Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, then Mayor of Minneapolis, later Vice-President under Lyndon Johnson, and of course the party nominee in 1968 against Nixon, after the assassination of leading Democratic opponent in the late primaries, Robert F. Kennedy.

And, save for 1976 when Gerald Ford to his great credit did not play that game of regional appeal, or at least so that you could tell it, perhaps because he was facing a formidable, moderate Southerner in Jimmy Carter, the Republican Party has pretty much since followed that plan with great resolve and results, save in 1992 and 1996.

In the exceptional years, the Democrats have returned to their Jeffersonian roots with great effect, combining a platform of reduction of Federal government and spending with the New Deal spirit of continued, even increased responsiveness of Federal programs for the needy and oppressed, eliminating government waste rather than services, the services aspect having been stressed during the Reagan-Bush years. And, the Democrats delivered on those promises during the Clinton years, though not successfully in the Carter years, primarily because of the inherited spiraling inflation and energy crunch combined with a mad religious leader in Iran, the latter being primarily outside the Administration's control, but nevertheless wearing on the nerves of the public as "the Hostage Crisis enters its ____ Day, this is..." played on and on in ringing echoes amid yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree for some 14 months before election day.

So Democrats for 2008, those especially remembering Ol' Spitball in '04, take heed of the General's 1938 words and find how now:


By Hugh S. Johnson

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va.--The question I hear discussed most frequently is whether there will be a split in the Democratic Party or a new party in 1940.

The Democratic Party, inwardly, is already split. It is a Democratic Party in name with a Third New Deal leadership. Except for the President, such architects of its policy as Hopkins, Corcoran, Ickes and Cohen are not Democrats at all. It is not merely that they have no Democratic Party background. Their policies and thinking are the precise reverse of the policies of that party. They contrive that what is proposed as Administration policy is antagonistic to every traditional principle of that party.

Has the party turned itself inside out to follow them? In many cases, only where patronage and expediency have induced leaders and their constituencies to seem to follow. The Democratic Party is now an organization with a head moving in one direction--and its body desiring to go in another. It is like a mercenary army--piebald groups held together not by principle but, by pap. It is a contraption braced by hay-wire and stuck together by spit.


The only reason that cocky Third New Dealers use its name as a false-face is the strength of its nation-wide local organizations, the fetish-worship of the Solid South and, the dignity of its ancient name. It is too hard to start a new party. They are seducing or cudgeling the loyalty of old line Democrats, only to laugh secretly at them as stupid stooges.

Will this cause a split? If it doesn't cease, it is bound to do so. There is quietly being circulated among liberal leaders of the Republican Party and regular Democrats a very clear scheme. The Republican Convention adopts the Democratic platform of 1932, modified to meet 1940 problems. Then it changes its name to "Jeffersonian Democrat Party" and temporarily adjourns.

The idea here is to call attention to the fact that the Third New Deal has shifted all of Jefferson's political principles as well as its 1932 promises, into reverse and that the Republicans have shifted into them--decentralization of government, no more governmental regimentation than is necessary, local government of local affairs etc. It is also that Jefferson's party was originally called "Republican," then "Democratic Republicans" and finally simply "Democratic." Finally, it is based on the belief that the name "Republican" is a bugbear south of the Mason and Dixon Line.


The Democrats would try to control their convention against the minority Third New Deal usurpers, write the platform, and nominate the national ticket. Then the Republicans would [indiscernible words] out, form a rump convention and do all those things adopting the platform of the "Jeffersonian Democrats." The Republicans would [indiscernible words], then reconvene and nominate the candidates already nominated by the Democratic convention.

There are all kinds of difficulties in this plan, but there are tremendous advantages. It avoids a third party, except as the homeless Third New Deal Party might seem to be one. It preserves the old Republican local organizations in the North and the Democratic organizations in the South. It would undoubtedly automatically carry a considerable electoral majority.

It would result in more old Republicans than old Democratic nominees for the Senate and the House in the North, but only in the first year. It would give the President to the old Democrats but no new President and party leader could fail to lean over backward to knit his party and his government by fair treatment to both old factions.

It would be a blessing because it would drag out into the open the essential issue: "To correct abuses do we need to change our traditional political and economic system to the European idea of a collectivist economy under personalized government?"

Two Men Report

The news dispatches from Munich yesterday contained a curious and perhaps instructive contrast. Thus:

Chamberlain, tilting a cigar to jaunty angle and wearing a German thanksgiving festival sheaf in his buttonhole, received newspapermen in his hotel suite... "I have always had in mind that if we could find peace on this Czechoslovak question, a way might be open to appeasement in Europe," he said.


"You must remember that we avoided a terrible war," the weary sad-faced Premiere (Daladier of France) told his friends when he plodded heavily into his hotel.

For Old Times' Sake

When you think of the Balilli, Mussolini's state-supported regiments of little tykes who are taught to revere war and to glorify destruction:

And when you think of the Jugendkorp, Hitler's miniature Storm Troopers into whose heads is drummed the noxious doctrines that have made Der Furious one of the best hated men of all times:

And when you think of the Young Communists in Russia, who are taught that devotion to a murderous state comes ahead of every filial obligation, and who are clapped on the back and rewarded for snitching on their elders:

When you think of these desecrations of unformed minds and immature personalities, the thought of the Boy Scouts of America comes like a breeze fresh over new-mown hay and bearing the happy, familiar sounds of traditional boyhood.

Incidentally, the Boy Scouts of Charlotte are trying to raise $10,000 to cover their organizational expenses for the year ahead.

Off His Reservation

Secretary of War Woodring is probably going to be roundly denounced by the bitter-end Roosevelt-haters for having attacked Major General Moseley's "right of free speech." But the Secretary is entirely in order.

Moseley is a soldier who has marched into a political argument and publicly assailed his superior officer, the commander-in-chief of the army. And that constitutes a gross breach of discipline and tradition. If Moseley were in Europe, he would already be facing summary court-martial.

A soldier has no right of public free speech. He cannot have under the terms of his employment. For it is his business not to argue and deliberate, not to make decisions in national policy, but to take orders without question--to apply force when and where he is told to apply force. And if he is allowed to go ramping around denouncing his commander, discipline in the ranks is sure to suffer.

Furthermore, and with the exception of a few war heroes, it is one of the oldest of American traditions that the soldier must keep out of arguments over civil questions. The founders of this republic greatly distrusted the whole idea of a standing army. And with reason. The soldier belongs to the most rigid hierarchy in the Western World, and he expects from those below him the one thing he is bound to give those above him--unquestioning obedience. More--the daily habit of his occupation tends to make him turn instinctively to force as the proper arbiter of all disputes. And when he attempts to deal with civil questions, he naturally inclines to carry this pattern over with him. Nearly all the republics that have died, ancient and modern, as the founders of this republic in their time knew, have died at the hands of the soldier in politics.

Bumble's Dilemma

Mr. Bumble of Downing Street, as we said Friday, paid a fearful price for his "victory" at Munich. Nevertheless, when all the above is said, it is in sober fact hard to blame Bumble too much. It is quite possible to blame the Baldwin Government, of which Bumble is the heir, for disastrous errors in the Mediterranean and Rhineland. And it is quite possible to blame Bumble himself for having (with the French) criminally misled Czechoslovakia, and for fatuous vacillation. The little country could undoubtedly have made terms with Hitler a year ago simply by dismantling its fortresses and coming voluntarily within the Nazi orbit. And if Bumble had made it perfectly clear to Hitler before the Nurnberg speech that, were Czechoslovakia attacked, England would fight, it is quite likely that the late crisis would not have arisen--not just yet anyhow.

But all that was past and done, and in the circumstances after Nurnberg, Bumble probably did as well as another could have. He is undoubtedly a kindly man who flees in dread from the thought of having to send Englishmen out to die. But he had far more practical reasons to consider. As head of the British Empire, his first duty is to try to preserve it intact. And the plain fact about the British Empire is that it has become a state which is no longer capable of defending all its exposures at once. If Mr. Bumble, in company with France and Russia, had gone to war with Germany and Italy, he probably would have won. But at the cost of the destruction of London and the other English cities, not to say all those of the Continent, and the probable destruction of democratic government in England and France, under the military dictatorship necessary for victory, and the probable destruction of at least half the British navy.

At these costs and at another still more appalling--that, while he was engaged with all his navy in the West, Japan would almost certainly have grabbed all his positions in the East, and so entrenched herself in them that by the time he rebuilt his navy it would have been impossible, in the absence of Pacific bases, ever to have got her out again. Not only Hong Kong and Singapore, but India and Australia might have gone by the board past all redemption.

It is quite probable, certainly, that Bumble has merely put off the day of decision. Lord Hitler is perhaps unlikely to come again into collision with the Western powers for several years, but when he passes into Asia Minor he is certain to. Meantime, his satellite, Lord Mussolini, will probably have his backing in cleaning up Spain at once. And after that Mussolini is quite likely to turn his hungry eyes toward France's North African provinces and Britain's puppet states of Egypt and Palestine--all of which he greatly craves. And there, if Hitler backs him, impasse may easily be reached. And certainly, if war comes hereafter, the beating of the Fascist front is going to be a far harder job than it would have been now--if indeed it can be done at all.

Meantime, however, Bumble and Britain have the comfort of thinking that anything can happen. Some enthusiastic Jew or Czech, for instance, may send Mr. Hitler roaring into the presence of his Aryan god, Woden, and deprive the Nazi march of its mainspring. And in any case, Britain, with her eyes perfectly wide open now, will have some period of time in which to try to build up her armaments to the point--of defending both her Eastern and Western interests at once? That is perhaps impossible. But at least she can hope to build them up to the point of making even a Hitler or a Mussolini think twice about paying the dreadful price necessary to overcoming them.

For if a showdown came, Britain actually has another (unpleasant but real) alternative to war. If she cannot protect all her holdings at once, she has Canada which is perfectly safe from attack because of the United States, and if the main part of her fleet were placed in the East she could hold India and Australia as well, no doubt, as South Africa, indefinitely. So actually, it is within the bounds of possibility that we shall see both England and France (which also has a great Eastern Empire which her navy can hold against all comers with the aid of Britain) continuing the policy of "orderly retreat" which Baldwin and Bumble have consistently followed. That is to say, they may sometime come to an agreement with Hitler and Mussolini whereunder the lands they hold on the Mediterranean will be handed over to Germany and Italy, in return for the guarantee of free passage in the Mediterranean--what neither has now--and whereunder they will content themselves with protecting and retaining what, after all, are their richest possessions.

It involves the overturn of all our notions of British belligerence, obviously. But we see those notions already sadly torn. It would involve, too, a vast population upheaval in the United Kingdom. London would cease to be the first city of the world in favor of Berlin or, more likely, New York. And in time millions of Englishmen who now live by industrialism, which hangs upon England's possession of all her markets, would have to emigrate. But there is plenty of land in Canada and Australia, and plenty of opportunity for industrial development. And, however uncomfortable it might be, it would still perhaps be better than the destruction of civilization in an interminable war.

We speculate, of course. But in any case, it is plain that Bumble thinks that the advantage of time outweighs all the dangers of making Mr. Hitler strong in men and materials. And no one can say positively that Bumble isn't right.


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