That once spendid galleon, the Republican Party, is admittedly landlocked. It is not defunct; no party which polls sixteen million votes is dead, unless the official pronouncements of the dominant party make it so.
For some time to come, however, the G.O.P. must resign itself to the part of a minority group--alert, critical, compactly-organized, with a well-defined philosophy. So shattering was the Roosevelt triumph, so sweeping the New Deal victory in Congress that the appellation of "minority party" is hardly more than a courtesy title at the present time. It cannot be over-emphasized that such under-representation of so large a minority is extremely unhealthy. One need not turn to Europe for illustration; the excesses of the G.O.P. after the Civil War, the worst mistakes of the present administration, frame the moral in sufficiently lurid colors.
The Republican party is, therefore, presented with more than a problem of its own welfare; it is faced with obligations to the whole nation. There was and is today, more than ever, a basic issue in "personal government" but it must be approached carefully and intelligently. Blanket, hysterical charges, typical of the last six weeks of the campaign, proved indigestible to large numbers of liberals, and scare tactics aimed at stampeding voters proved to be boomerangs.
There are many vulnerable points in the New Deal armor, but upon their discovery alone no election will hinge. Criticism must be welded into a coherent whole, of which an ideology of liberal progress is a definite part. Thus sections of the S. E. C. Act should be rendered more intelligible, but not discarded in toto. The principle of collective bargaining must receive fuller recognition and better mediation machinery found for industrial disputes. The social security program, and particularly the fiscal stewardship of the government, must be revamped. In these things, as in relief and public works, definite, workable plans must be substituted for general charges. Similarly, the Republicans must make specific their programs for peace, neutrality, and the limitation of war profits, make definite their retreat from the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, their objections to out-Stimsoning Stimson in the Pacific.
As well as resting the issues, with a more decided emphasis upon constructive measures, the Party must find new leaders. Governor Lahdon was and is of this group. If he chooses the most courageous path, he can still find a large sphere of usefulness in the House or the Senate. John Quincy Adams, after being President, was proud to carve an additional niche for himself in the House and refused to be considered a "sacrificial lamb." More hopeful, however, are the signs of self-rejuvenation. Young chieftains, like Governor Bridges of New Hampshire and Senator-elect Lodge of Massachusetts, are providing the kind of leadership demanded by the populace.
If the Republican Party is to capitalize the mistakes of its opponents, it must have a refurbished philosophy and a youthful leadership. The unweildy, amorphous mass of New Dealers are, at some point, going to be rent over weighting the scales in favor of labor, over the tax on corporation's profits, the Social Security Act, over the probability or actuality of vicious inflation. When this time comes, the Republicans must be prepared to assume the role of aggressive leadership. Therefore it is necessary to begin now, not a few months before Sovember, 1940, in the great task of rebuilding a party and taking up the gage of combat.