Mayor LaGuardia of New York celebrated the first birthday party of that lustily kicking baby, the Progressive Party, by dealing a typically LaGuardian blow right in the spot where the United States should feel of most. In his radio address this Mayor made the perennially startling statement that the only practical way out of the country's present economic difficulties is to amend the Constitution.
What the Progressives only suggest every American knows at the bottom of his heart to be the unquestionable truth, a truth he shrinks from with all the repulsion he would have if he found the Loch Ness monster in his bed. The sentimental attachment of the American people for the Constitution is hard enough to explain here, but in the eyes of foreign nations it is simply unfathomable. No matter how much it is cursed as an obstacle in the way of modern and efficient government, any movement to alter it is met with the hottest of resentment. When it comes to a definite showdown, Americans decide with their peculiar toryism that whatever is to be done must keep within the limits of the Constitution. If this is found to be impossible, the legislation is hurried out of sight around the corner while its advocate blushes at his political indiscretion.
Today, with the Blue Eagle and the rest of the Roosevelt program, looking more fit for the Walter Reed Hospital than Capitol Hill, the truth of Mayor LaGuardia's blunt challenge makes itself felt more strongly than ever. With the cheery prospect before it, that if the Senate doesn't strangle it the Supreme Court will, the formerly tempestuous bird is flapping his wings in increasing futility. Yet most liberal thinkers would hate to see the Roosevelt program scrapped in its entirety, no matter how many stones have been thrown at various parts of it. As Mark Sullivan has pointed out, to make the social reform program fool-proof the Constitution would have to be amended to give Congress power to regulate all business industry, trade, and commerce. But with the states as reluctant now as they were in 1789 to surrender any power to the federal government, there is hardly any hope that such an amendment can be at present more than an elusive vision of Progressive thinkers.