Cowardice at Chicago
BENJAMIN DISRAELI, that distinguished statesman of Victorian England who was also a wit and a man of letters, once defined a practical man as a man who practiced the errors of his forefathers. One might, with justice, borrow the definition for those practical politicians who drafted the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties.
Meeting at a moment the import of which for our country's future is scarcely less than that in which our government was born or that which saw the great crisis of the Civil War, these men and women chose to borrow from the past neither the bold, imaginative spirit which moved our forefathers to launch the untried experiment of a republic, nor the kind of courageous meeting of the issues and problems of the day which will make the name of Abraham Lincoln imperishable in our history. Instead, they borrowed from the past the timidities, the outworn doctrines and mistakes long since rejected by history.
In many respects the two platforms parallel each other, revealing the tendency of practical politicians to try to conciliate and win all elements of the population without offending others within or without the party. This characteristic of politicians has developed among students of American politics and voters alike a strong inclination to cynicism. One political writer has spelled it out in a piece of humorless understatement: "The task of maintaining an adequately non-committal position while appearing to assume a definite position on each issue is an extremely difficult one." Another summed up more briefly what many have felt when he described the usual party platform as "full of sound and fury signifying everything."
Since Dumbarton Oaks, the candidates have seemed much more cognizant of the public's interest, but it remains to be