On Saturday, the Nation's first Democrat placed the issue of dictatorship before Congress and the American people. In his Inaugural Address, President Roosevelt said, "It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But in the event that the Congress shall fail" in the speedy adoption of measures to meet the national emergency, "I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis--broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign fee."
"In the event that the Congress shall fail" this is the key to the whole issue. In the last years there has been a growing demand on the part of the American people for dictatorship, a demand which has been based on the clear conviction that Congress has already failed. Congressional procedure is far too clumsy; its knowledge, especially of industrial and commercial relations, is far too inadequate. As a result, the business life of America is either hedged with absurd restrictions, or permitted entire freedom of action where central supervision is necessary.
There can be no denying the logic of the formula: "If Congress fails, then dictatorship must be established." The pressure of public opinion is too strong. That opinion will no longer tolerate such things as the failure of 5000 banks, and then an eight month's debate on the Glass Banking Bill. The only safeguard against dictatorship in the future is "in the event that the Congress succeed." That success can materialize in two ways. The first depends upon President Roosevelt himself. He must realize that the people of the Nation are as solidly behind him as they are behind Congress, perhaps even more solidly. This should give him the courage to pursue a policy of Congressional leadership of the old Wilsonian type. It must be aggressive leadership which vigorously sets forth definite policies, and works for their enactment. The other depends upon Congress itself. That body must realize that perhaps its very existence depends upon whether it succeeds in the speedy passage of intelligent legislation. If it works with this thought uppermost in its mind, it will survive the technical emergency which these times have produced. Otherwise the threat of dictatorship hovers ever closer.