CPC Report; An unabashedly liberal perspective

5 February 2010- Adlai Stevenson's

Birthday Special Edition

I offer my opponents a bargain:  if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.  ~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952

Adlai Stevenson's Acceptance Speech-

1952 Democratic Convention

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Convention, My Fellow Citizens.

I accept your nomination and your program.

I should have preferred to hear those words uttered by a stronger, a wiser, a better man than myself. But, after listening to the President's speech, I even feel better about myself. None of you, my friends, can wholly appreciate what is in my heart. I can only hope that you understand my words. They will be few.

I have not sought the honor you have done me. I could not seek it, because I aspired to another office, which was the full measure of my ambition, and one does not treat the highest office within the gift of the people of Illinois as an alternative or as a consolation prize.

I would not seek your nomination for the Presidency, because the burdens of that office stagger the imagination. Its potential for good or evil, now and in the years of our lives, smothers exultation and converts vanity to prayer.

I have asked the Merciful Father -- the Father of us all -- to let this cup pass from me, but from such dreaded responsibility one does not shrink in fear, in self-interest, or in false humility. So, "If this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, Thy will be done."

That my heart has been troubled, that I have not sought this nomination, that I could not seek it in good conscience, that I would not seek it in honest self-appraisal, is not to say that I value it the less. Rather, it is that I revere the office of the Presidency of the United States. And now, my friends, that you have made your decision, I will fight to win that office with -- with all my heart and my soul. And, with your help, I have no doubt that we will win.

You have summoned me to the highest mission within the gift of any people. I could not be more proud. Better men than I were at hand for this mighty task, and I owe to you and to them every resource of mind and of strength that I possess to make your deed today a good one for our country and for our party. I am confident too, that your selection for -- of a candidate for Vice President will strengthen me and our party immeasurably in the hard, the implacable work that lies ahead of all of us.

I know you join me in gratitude and respect for the great Democrats and the leaders of our generation whose names you have considered here in this convention, whose vigor, whose character, whose devotion to the Republic we love so well have won the respect of countless Americans and have enriched our party. I shall need them; we shall need them, because I have not changed in any respect since yesterday.

Your nomination, awesome as I find it, has not enlarged my capacities, so I am profoundly grateful and emboldened by their comradeship and their fealty, and I have been deeply moved by their expressions of good will and of support. And I cannot, my friends, resist the urge to take the one opportunity that has been afforded me to pay my humble respects to a very great and good American, whom I am proud to call my kinsman, Alben Barkely of Kentucky.

Let me say, too, that I have been heartened by the conduct of this convention. You have argued and disagreed, because as Democrats you care and you cared deeply. But you have disagreed and argued without calling each other liars and thieves, without despoiling our best traditions --you have not spoiled our best traditions in any naked struggles for power.

And you have written a platform that neither equivocates, contradicts, nor evades. You have restated our party's record, its principles and its purposes, in language that none can mistake, and with a firm confidence in justice, freedom, and peace on earth that will raise the hearts and the hopes of mankind for that distant day when no one rattles a saber and no one drags a chain.

For all things I am grateful to you. But I feel no exultation, no sense of triumph. Our troubles are all ahead of us. Some will call us appeasers; others will say that we are the war party. Some will say we are reactionary; other swill say that we stand for socialism. There will be inevitable -- the inevitable cries of "throw the rascals out," "it's time for a change," and so on and so on.

We'll hear all those things and many more besides. But we will hear nothing that we have not heard before. I'm not too much concerned with partisan denunciation, with epithets and abuse, because the workingman, the farmer, the thoughtful businessman, all know that they are better off than ever before, and they all know the Great Depression under the hammer blows of the Democratic party.

Nor am I afraid that the precious two-party system is in danger. Certainly the Republican party looked brutally alive a couple of weeks ago -- and I mean both Republican parties. Nor am I afraid the Democratic party is old and fat and indolent. After a hundred and fifty years, it has been old for a long time, and it will never be indolent, as long as it looks forward and not back, as long as it commands the allegiance of the young and the hopeful who dream the dreams and see the visions of a better America and a better world.

You will hear many sincere and thoughtful people express concern about the continuation of one party in power for twenty years. I don't belittle this attitude. But change for the sake of change has no absolute merit in itself. If our greatest hazard is preservation of the values of Western civilization, in our self-interest alone, if you please, it is the part -- is it the part of wisdom to change for the sake of change to a party with a split personality, to a leader, whom we all respect, but who has been called upon to minister to a hopeless case of political schizophrenia?

If the fear is corruption in official position, do you believe with Charles Evans Hughes that guild is personal and knows no party? Do you doubt the power of any political leader, if he has the will too do so, to set his own house in order without his neighbors having to burn it down?

What does concern me, in common with thinking partisans of both parties, is not just winning this election but how it is won, how well we can take advantage of this great quadrennial opportunity to debate issues sensibly and soberly. I hope and pray that we Democrats, win or lose, can campaign not as a crusade to exterminate the opposing party, as our opponents seem to prefer, but as a great opportunity to educated and elevate a people whose destiny is leadership, not alone of a rich and prosperous, contented country, as in the past, but of a world in ferment.

And, my friends even more important than winning the election is governing the nation. That is the test of a political party, the acid, final test. When the tumult and the shouting die, when the bands are gone and the lights are dimmed, there is the stark reality of responsibility in an hour of history haunted with those gaunt, grim specters of strife, dissension, and materialism at home and ruthless, inscrutable, and hostile power abroad.

The ordeal of the twentieth century, the bloodiest, most turbulent era of the whole Christian age, is far from over. Sacrifice, patience, understanding, and implacable purpose may be our lot of years to come. Let's face it. Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that there -- that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man -- war, poverty, and tyranny -- and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each.

Let's tell them that the victory to be won in the twentieth century, this portal to the Golden Age, mocks the pretensions of individual acumen and ingenuity, for it is a citadel guarded by thick walls of ignorance and of mistrust which do not fall before the trumpets' blast or the politicians' imprecations or even a general's baton. The are, they are, my friends, walls that must be directly stormed by the hosts of courage, of morality, and of vision, standing shoulder to shoulder, unafraid of ugly truth, contemptuous of lies, half truths, circuses, and demagoguery.

The people are wise, wiser than the Republicans think. And the Democratic party is the people's party -- not the labor party, not the farmers' party, not the employers' party -- it is the party of no one because it is the party of everyone.

That, that, I -- I think, is our ancient mission. Where we have deserted it, we have failed. With your help, there will be no desertion now. Better we lose the election than mislead the people, and better we lose than misgovern the people. Help me to do the job in these years of darkness, of doubt, and of crisis which stretch beyond the horizon of tonight's happy vision, and we will justify our glorious past and the loyalty of silent millions who look to us for compassion, for understanding, and for honest purpose, Thus we will serve our great tradition greatly.

I ask of you all you have. I will give you all I have, even as he who came here tonight and honored me, as he has honored you, the Democratic party, by a lifetime of service and bravery that will find him an imperishable page in the history of the Republic and of the Democratic party -- President Harry S. Truman.

And finally, my friends, in this staggering task you have assigned me, I shall always try "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God."


The Nature of Patriotism 

August 27, 1952 

We have joined our strength with that of others-and we have done so in self-protection. We seek no dominion over any other nation-and the whole free world knows it! If there are those behind the Iron Curtain who don't know it, it is because their masters don't want them to know it.
I am not sure that, historically, there has been another powerful nation that has been trusted as the United States is trusted today. It is something new under the sun when the proudest nations on earth have not only accepted American leadership in the common defense effort, but have also welcomed our troops and bases on their territory. Ports the world around are open to American warships by day or night. Our airmen are stationed in the most distant lands.
Yet all is not perfect. There are still vital interests which we and our allies are not militarily prepared to defend.
Some of us are reluctant to admit that security cannot be won cheaply by some clever diplomatic maneuver or by propaganda.
We have not yet really faced up to the problem of defending our cities against the rapidly growing threat of Soviet air power. There is, for example, a great shortage of volunteers for our civil defense ground observation corps.
And many only partly understand or are loath to acknowledge that the costs of waging the cold war are but a fraction of the costs of hot war.
So there remain important tasks for us. I believe in a strong national defense, and I believe that we must press forward to improve our position and not waver or hesitate in this interval when the scales are so precariously balanced. While I think it is true that today the fight for preparedness is going well, there are other and even more difficult tasks that we dare not neglect.
The United States has very large power in the world today. And the partner of power-the corollary-is responsibility. It is our high task to use our power with a sure hand and a steady touch-with the self-restraint that goes with confident strength. The purpose of our power must never be lost in the fact of our power-and the purpose, I take it, is the promotion of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
We talk a great deal about patriotism. What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility which will enable America to remain master of her power-to walk with it in serenity and wisdom, with self-respect and the respect to all mankind; a patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. The dedication of a lifetime-these are words that are easy to utter, but this is a mighty assignment. For it is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.
Patriotism, I have said, means putting country before self. This is no abstract phrase, and unhappily, we find some things in American life today of which we cannot be proud.
Consider the groups who seek to identify their special interests with the general welfare. I find it sobering to think that their pressures might one day be focused on me. I have resisted them before and I hope the Almighty will give me the strength to do so again and again. And I should tell your-my fellow Legionnaires-as I would tell all other organized groups, that I intend to resist pressures from veterans, too, if I think their demands are excessive or in conflict with the public interest, which must always be the paramount interest.
Let me suggest, incidentally, that we are rapidly becoming a nation of veterans. If we were all to claim a special reward for our service, beyond that to which specific disability of sacrifice has created a just claim, who would be left to pay the bill? After all, we are Americans first and veterans second, and the best maximum for any administration is still Jefferson's; ''Equal rights for all, special privileges for none.''
True patriotism, it seems to me, is based on tolerance and a large measure of humility.
There are men among use who use ''patriotism'' as a club for attacking other Americans. What can we say for the self-styled patriot who thinks that a Negro, a Jew, a Catholic, or a Japanese-American is less an American than he? That betrays the deepest article of our faith, the belief in individual liberty and equality which has always been the heart and soul of the American idea.
What can we say for the man who proclaims himself a patriot-and then for political or personal reasons attacks the patriotism of faithful public servants? I give you, as a shocking example, the attacks which have been made on the loyalty and the motives of our great wartime Chief of Staff, General Marshall. To me this is the type of ''patriotism'' which is, in Dr. Johnson's phrase, ''the last refuse of scoundrels.''
The anatomy of patriotism is complex. But surely intolerance and public irresponsibility cannot be cloaked in the shinning armor of rectitude and righteousness. Nor can the denial of the right to hold ideas that are different-the freedom of man to think as he pleases. To strike freedom of the mind with the fist of patriotism is an old and ugly subtlety.
And the freedom of the mind, my friends, has served America well. The vigor of our political life, our capacity for change, our cultural, scientific and industrial achievements, all derive from free inquiry, from the free mind from the imagination, resourcefulness and daring of men who are not afraid of new ideas. Most all of us favors free enterprise for business. Let us also favor free enterprise for the mind. For, in the last analysis, we would fight for the death to protect it. Why is it, then, that we are sometimes slow to detect, or are indifferent to, the dangers that beset it?
Many of the threats to our cherished freedoms in these anxious, troubled times arise, it seems to me, from a healthy apprehension about the communist menace within our country. Communism is abhorrent. It is strangulation of the individual; it is death for the soul. Americans who have surrendered to this misbegotten idol have surrendered their right to our trust. And there can be no secure place for them in our public life.
Yet, as I have said before, we must take care not to burn down the barn to kill the rats. All of us, and especially patriotic organizations of enormous influence like the American Legion, must be vigilant in protecting our birth-right from its too zealous friends while protecting it from its evil enemies.
The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.
I could add, from any own experience, that it is never necessary to call a man a communist to make political capital. Those of us who have undertaken to practice the ancient but imperfect art of government will always make enough mistakes to keep our critics well supplied with standard ammunition.
There is no need for poison gas.
Another feature of our current scene that I think invites a similar restraint is the recurrent attacks in some communities upon our public schools.
There is not justification for indiscriminate attacks on our schools, and the sincere, devoted, and by no means overpaid teachers who labor in them. If there are any communist teachers, of course they should be excluded, but the task is not one for self-appointed thought police or ill-informed censors. As a practical matter, we do not stop communist activity in this way. What we do is give the communists material with which to defame us. And we also stifle the initiative of teachers and depreciate the prestige of the teaching profession which should be as honorable and esteemed as any among us.
Let me now, in my concluding words, inquire with you how we may affirm our patriotism in the troubled yet hopeful years that are ahead.
The central concern of the American Legion-the ideal which holds it together-the vitality which animates it-is patriotism. And Those voices which we have heard most clearly and which are best remembered in our public life have always have always had the accent of patriotism.
It was always accounted a virtue in a man to love his country. With us it is now something more than a virtue. It is a necessity, a condition of survival. When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.
Men who have offered their lives for their country know that patriotism is not the fear of something; it is the love of something. Patriotism with us is not the hatred of Russia; it is the love of this Republic and of the ideal of liberty of man and mind in which it was born, and to which this Republic is dedicated.
With this patriotism-patriotism in its large and wholesome meaning-America can master its power and turn it to the noble cause of peace. We can maintain military power without militarism; political power without oppression; and moral power without compulsion or complacency.
The road we travel is long, but at the end lies the grail of peace. And in the valley of peace we see the faint outlines of a new world, fertile and strong. It is odd that one of the keys to abundance should have been handed to civilization on a platter of destruction. But the power of the atom to work evil gives only the merest hint of its power for good.
I believe that man stands on the eve of his greatest day. I know, too, that that day is not a gift but a prize; that we shall not reach it until we have won it.
Legionnaires are united by memories of war. Therefore, no group is more devoted to peace. I say to you now that there is work to be done, that the difficulties and dangers that beset our path at home and abroad are incalculable. There is sweat and sacrifice; there is much of patience and quite persistence in our horoscope. Perhaps the goal is not even for us to see in our lifetime.
But we are embarked on a great adventure. Let us proclaim our faith in the future of man. Of good heart and good cheer, faithful to ourselves and our traditions, we can lift the cause of freedom, the cause of free men, so high no power on earth can tear it down. We can pluck this flower, safety, from this nettle, danger. Living, speaking, like men-like Americans-we can lead the way to our rendezvous in a happy, peaceful world.
Thank you-and forgive me for imposing on you for so long. 


The True Meaning of Scott Brown's Victory

Much has been made of Scott Brown's victory for the US Senate representing Massachusetts on the fourth of this month. However, one can argue that this  more of a matter of his Democratic opponent losing the race to succeed the late Edward  Kennedy, than Scott Brown actually winning. Martha Coakley, the current Massachusetts Attorney  General, had a lead in the polls last December, but obviously took the race for granted as she went on vacation after winning the Democratic primary and in doing so saw her favorable  poll numbers drop significantly. Voters typically do not like to be taken for granted. While she was on vacation, her opponent hit the roads of the state in his pick-up. Having lost her lead in those polls, she then went negative to no avail. She lost on the fourth. To put it bluntly, she screwed up.
 
Of more significance was the victory of Bill Owens over Doug Hoffman running on the Conservative Party of New York. The Conservative Party and Tea Party approved candidate, with Sarah Palin's blessing, forced the Republican Party candidate, Dede Scozzafava out of the race. Ms.
Scozzafava, who had beaten Mr. Hoffman in the Republican primary, promptly endorsed her Democratic opponent after withdrawing, as did the Watertown Daily Times as well. With Owens beating Hoffman 49% to 45.5 % and the reminder going for Scozzafava, it is obvious that the tea party extremism was not endorsed by a majority of the electorate. Might this be more significant  and a harbinger of things to come in other races?


                      Glynn Braman

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