The River of Doubt
"Well, we have gone down in a smashing defeat," Roosevelt conceded the day after, adding, "Whether it is a Waterloo or a Bull Run, time only can tell." He had some ideas on the subject and on the general significance of what he and the Progressives had wrought. "I had expected defeat," he told Arthur Lee, "but I had expected that we would make a better showing." In New York and Massachusetts, for instance, he had thought he would run second to Wilson; as it happened, he had lost to Taft as well. "But I suppose that I ought not to expect that in three months we could form a new Party that would do as well as we have actually done. We had all the money, all the newspapers and all the political machinery against us and, above all, we had the habit of thought of the immense mass of dull unimaginative men who simply vote according to the party symbol." Looking ahead, Roosevelt couldn't say whether the Progressive Party per se would persist; too many unknowable influences were at work. "But the Progressive movement must and will go forward." The country required it. "The alternative is oscillation between the greedy arrogance of a party directed by conscienceless millionaires and the greedy envy of a party directed by reckless and unscrupulous demagogues."
Would Roosevelt go forward with the progressive movement? That was more problematic. For public consumption he was as eager as ever. He declared that he was "proud to have made the fight" and that "the next four years will make the 1916 fight much easier." He promised his continuing best efforts, telling one supporter, "You may be sure that I am in this fight to stay and that from now on all I can do