Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Archibald MacLeish; E. F. Prichard Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

Why I Am for Smith

The following selection appeared in the New Republic for October 31, 1928.

IT IS midnight, Tuesday, November 6, and the next day's papers must go to press with the election undecided. Not until the early afternoon of Wednesday is the uncertainty lifted and Smith's electoral majority decisively established, though by the narrowest of margins. The commentators upon the result in Thursday's papers have thus had more than the usual time allowed journalists for reflection upon the meaning of events. What interpretation will the American correspondents of important European dailies place upon so lively a change in public feeling, compared with the vote in 1924, as is implied by the election of Governor Smith? How are the observers for the London Times and the Manchester Guardian likely to explain to English readers Governor Smith's victory and Mr. Hoover's defeat? They will doubtless discern confused and conflicting impulses registered in the result, the play of obscure currents and cross-currents, the operation of many minor and local causes expressed in the nation's choice. But, surely, analysis of the deeper influences in the election of Governor Smith will run somewhat along these lines:

First and foremost, Governor Smith's election implies an unequivocal rejection of any sectarian allegiance as a disqualification for the presidency. Inasmuch as the issue had been so decisively raised, Smith's election is vindication of the principle that fitness to rule over the United States is determined by relevant qualities of character and ability and experience. Proof was required that the presidency is a function of no creed. The appeal to Methodists will not soon again be resorted to by a high official of the govern-

-320-

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