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Gov. Thomas E. Dewey on Big Government, Circa 1950

The following are excerpts from a Gov. Thomas E. Dewey speech delivered in April 1950 regarding how a sectional political party in this country is “a menace to responsible government.” He viewed the Democrat party as a liberal and radical party, with policies similar to Lenin’s.  Ironically, he denounces sectional parties as a menace with no legitimate role in a free society, though his own party originated as such in 1854.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Gov. Thomas E. Dewey on Big Government, Circa 1950

“Big Government: New Trend in US” Lecture on Political Science by Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York.

“Although the United States is the youngest of the great nations, ours is one of the oldest free republics on earth. Its durability has persisted in the face of wars and the inevitable frailty of human beings who conduct government. Our political history has been the history of a two-party system in action. From the early days of the republic our basic political arrangement has been the same — one party in power and one party in opposition.

The Democratic party would be the liberal to radical party. The Republican party would be the conservative to reactionary party.

Now is there a legitimate role for third parties in this country? The answer depends on whether the third party is national in character with intellectual breadth and a broad base of popular support, or whether it is narrowly local in nature.

Such sectional or local parties are, basically, only splinter movements. They have proved to be a menace to responsible government here, just as they have to responsible governments elsewhere. I see no legitimate place for hem in a free system such as ours.

On Big Government Lenin has said that socialized medicine is the “keystone of the arch” of communism. Socialized medicine today is a major part of the President’s legislative program.

In the same way last year, Mr. Truman called for power to use federal funds to build factories which would compete with privately-owned factories. It is fundamental that no citizen can successfully compete against his government . . .

Why has Big Government made such a successful appeal to our people these last 17 years? I think it is because many millions of Americans have been persuaded that Big Government is the alternative to depression and insecurity. The offer of Big Government today is to protect its people against the hazards of life. Its method, for the present, is to socialize incomes through taxation and to socialize risks. Government which pretends to take the risks out of life is fraudulent. All it does is remove the rewards.

And if the final result is total leisure in the form of continuous paid unemployment, the result will not be a richer life but a national last illness. Big Government, like dictatorships, can continue only by growing larger and larger. It can never retrench without admitting failure. It feeds on the gradual obliteration of State and local governments as elements of sovereignty and tends to transform them into districts and prefectures.

By adsorbing more than half of all the taxing power of the nation, Big Government now deprives the State and local governments of the capacity to support the programs they should conduct. In place of their own taxing powers, it offers them in exchange the counterfeit currency of federal subsidy.”

(“Big Government: New Trend in US,” Lecture on Political Science by Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York, April 1950)

Nixon's Treaty of Fifth Avenue

The 1968 observation of presidential candidate George Wallace regarding the differences between the Republican and Democrat parties appears accurate, as both had similar policies to attract the same voters. The GOP leadership chose a man in 1952 with no known conservative principles over Robert A. Taft, a man with extensive and proven conservative principles. The liberal Rockefeller wing of the GOP acted in 1959 to thwart conservative Barry Goldwater’s candidacy and did everything to re-elect LBJ 1964.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Nixon’s Treaty of Fifth Avenue

“When the Republicans met in Chicago the next week, Richard Nixon had an even safer lock on the presidential nomination than Kennedy’s before the Democrats met. Anticipating Nixon’s nomination, [John F.] Kennedy had gone out of his way to attack [Eisenhower’s] Vice President as a young man whose ideas nevertheless belonged to the days of William McKinley, and as one who, unlike Lincoln, had shown “charity toward none and malice toward all.”

The closest thing to a serious challenge to Nixon’s claims on the nomination had come from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, who did nothing to discourage efforts to boom him for the Presidency in 1959. Visits with Republican leaders around the country, however, had convinced him that he had no chance against Nixon, and at the end of the year he withdrew from the race. Shortly thereafter Nixon announced his candidacy.

Rockefeller, though no longer seeking the nomination, was determined to influence the GOP platform. As critical as any Democrat of [Eisenhower] administration military policy, the New York governor strongly echoed the 1958 Rockefeller Brothers Fund report on national security, especially the recommendations for a mandatory national fallout shelter program, for accelerated ICBM development, and for bigger conventional forces.

Early in June he angered Eisenhower when, right after breakfasting with the President at the White House, he told newsmen that “our position in the world is dramatically weaker today than fifteen years ago . . . our national defense needs great strengthening.” He also urged Nixon to make known his views on all issues before, not after the convention.

Rockefeller was obviously in a position to make things difficult for Nixon if he wanted to. Two days before the Chicago convention was to open, the Vice President and the governor had a dramatic secret conference at Rockefeller’s personal residence in Manhattan. As a result of what the press dubbed the “treaty of Fifth Avenue,” Nixon agreed that the party platform then being drafted in Chicago should have stronger sections on both defense and civil rights.

Thus the platform, while mostly praising the policies of the Eisenhower administration, did call for faster development and deployment of missiles, and committed the GOP to a program of action in the field of civil rights while was fully as far-reaching as what the Democrats had promised.

Yet despite their radically contrasting backgrounds, personalities and political styles, in assumptions and outlook Kennedy and Nixon were not far apart. Both men were fundamentally cold warriors, dedicated to protecting national interests . . . Both were “internationalists,” strong advocates of the collective security orientation of American foreign policy since 1939.

Both wished to couple the continuing buildup of American armaments with a more ambitious program of nonmilitary aid in response to what Nixon termed “the revolution of peaceful peoples’ aspirations” in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both Nixon and Kennedy accepted the basic premises of the welfare state, although Kennedy favored a greater degree of federal intervention to foster economic growth and expand economic opportunity.

Finally, both believed in a powerful Presidency, dominant in domestic affairs and unchallenged in the making and execution of foreign policy.

The election was so close that, according to some estimates, a shift of no more than 12,000 votes in five States would have produced a different result. But Kennedy, by narrowly winning such populous States as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, managed to squeeze through. In a record popular vote of nearly 69 million, Kennedy’s margin of victory was less than 118,000, or about a quarter of a percentage point. Kennedy’s big majorities in the largest Norther cities, with their great numbers of Catholics and blacks, won him the Presidency.

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 274-279)