The Charlotte News
Friday, July 7, 1939
Site Ed. Note: There have been many since 1939 who for one reason or another have sought to organize this amorphous thing called the American middle class, for causes right and left, religious and secular, political, economic and cultural. From the hula-hoop to the coup of fools, the "moral majority" to the floral moiety... And, largely, but for short periods, it has been to the same end as indicated in the editorial, ignis fatuus. There is no question that the "silent majority" should never remain silent; it is unlikely, however, that, even as it may vote on occasion in a particular sovereignty, giving majority assent on this or that issue or candidacy, that it does so in unum voce. For the ballot never asks voters to explain why they are voting as they are. And even polling data seeking to tap those explanations often may exclude certain variables or unduly highlight one variable over another, skewing the results by the nature of the questions asked or omitted. In other words, you can fool all the people some of the time, ...some, all, but never all, all.
But McNutt May Be Taken Seriously, Nevertheless
The candidacy of Paul McNutt for the Democratic Presidential nomination ought reasonably to be no more than a comic opera passage in an otherwise somewhat drab scene. It is easily possible to imagine him as a reigning matinee idol, for he is a handsome dog and plainly knows it. Or as a Philippines High Commissioner, whose main business is to look important and maintain the white man's "face." Or as a hundred-thousand-dollar-a-year salesman. But as President? Not unless a fine batch of white hair, flashing white teeth, immaculate grooming, and a great deal of professional charm--all of them more or less admirable in themselves--are to be counted as primary qualifications. And seeing that Warren Harding had them all, that may be doubted.
There is nothing in the man's record to indicate any comprehension of, or a capacity for, dealing with the infinitely complex problems the nation presently faces. And there is much to suggest that he is temperamentally unfit. At all times he has preferred the showy and dramatic to the really useful--and we have had too much of that already. And as Governor of Indiana, he behaved like a little dictator, without ever getting anything in particular done to show for it. In sum, a beautiful but a largely empty chest.
Nevertheless, it is by no means certain that he will not be taken as a serious contender. For at this moment the chief Republican contender is a man named Thomas Dewey, who reveals much the same temperamental defects as McNutt, and whose sole claim to the nation's No. 1 job is that he has had some successful experience at prosecuting gangsters in the courts.
Way To Settlement
But Adolf Will Not Act On His Own Plan Here
The Danzig question, Hugh Johnson in his column yesterday notwithstanding, is not a question of the return of a German town to Germany. Danzig controls the mouth of the Vistula River, and with it two-thirds of Poland's trade. If Poland allows Germany to take it and turn it into a German fortress, Poland's independence is as certainly done for as was Czechoslovakia's when it allowed Germany to take the Sudetenland.
Is there, then, no way of peaceful settlement? There is, and Adolf Hitler and his partner in aggression, Benito Mussolini, have pointed it out. In the Italian South Tyrol districts of Merano and Bolzano there are more "Germans" then there are in Danzig. These districts were taken away from Austria at the end of the World War just as Danzig was taken from Germany; and Hitler has a better claim to them than to Danzig under any view of the case for they are not historically Italian territory whereas Danzig is historically Polish territory. But is Mr. Hitler demanding that these territories inhabited almost entirely by Germans be handed back to him--or else? Not so. On the contrary, he has entered into an amicable agreement with Mussolini under which the Germans are to be paid for their land and migrate to the Fatherland, if they wish. The territory will remain Italy's, but all Germans who prefer to live in Germany will be enabled to do so.
The solution fits the case of Danzig perfectly. If it is the Germans in that city Mr. Hitler wants, then let him enter into precisely such an agreement with Poland. All the Germans who "want to go home to the Reich" will be allowed to, and Poland's independence will be safe. He won't do it, of course. But the fact that he won't is itself conclusive proof that he wants Danzig, not because of any Germans but to choke Poland to death.
Prof. Pitkin Turns To A Pretty Hopeless Dream
Prof. Walter B. ("Life Begins At Forty") Pitkin says he has turned "revolutionist" at 62. But what he has really done is to turn chaser of will-o-the-wisp. Many men before him have played with the notion of organizing the "middle class" into a solid bloc for "action in political and economic affairs and to correct evils through focused public opinion." But it never has worked, and it is not likely that it ever will.
For what is called the "middle class" is not a single homeogeneous group but a vast agglomeration of groups, each with its own special interests and purposes which often run counter to those of the others. Indeed, most Americans above the level of the city proletariat and the rural sharecroppers think of themselves as belonging to the middle class--do belong to it whether they think so or not. Everything from skilled mechanics to professional men of distinction and the run-of-the-mine banker is included within the term. And to hope to get all these bound together in a cohesive organization and keep them there, is manifestly to hope for the improbable. They may and often do have many interests in common, but the interest of the special group to which they most immediately belong will nearly always outweigh the only vaguely perceived common interest.
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