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 Governor Roosevelt

This was a campaign speech which Mr. Frankfurter delivered over radio station WBJ on November 5, 1932.

TUESDAY next will be held what Woodrow Wilson was fond of calling the grand inquest of the nation. The strife of words and partisan excesses during four long months not unnaturally arouse weariness and a sense of futility about the campaign. Surely this is a short-sighted view. Is there not something truly majestic about a people of a hundred and twenty millions scattered over a continent deciding its destiny by debate, by the give-and-take of argument? The only alternative to government by talk is government by force. And violence is not the only form of force; it comes in subtle disguises. We should rejoice that in the midst of disaster and miseries the appeal is still to reason, and that a change in government is contemplated by the uncoerced action of some forty million voters.

A President who offers himself for re-election seeks approval of his first term. We may not escape the duty of examining the record and aptitudes of the President. In doing so, one does not fail of respect for his office. On the contrary, only by choosing a President in the full light of knowledge and criticism do we truly respect the presidential office. In effect, Mr. Hoover asks for the reward of another election although the country finds itself in the third winter of the worst economic and social distress that the people of the United States have ever endured. About the basic situation there can, unhappily, be no difference of opinion--the unemployment of millions, the stagnation of the major industries, the plight of the vast agricultural regions. These tragic facts are recounted not to add gloom nor to undermine hope. But they are

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