While the Student Unionists dispute over the formation of a strong third party, Harvard gets word that Norman Thomas, by now a traditional third-party candidate, will wind up his campaign next month right here in the New Lecture Hall. Mr. Thomas and the Socialist Party are opposing the whole national defense program, including conscription, and are advocating a peaceful transition to state socialism. This is just about the only real opposition the Roosevelt-Willkie foreign policy faces. It is an academic opposition, as well as an unpopular one, and appropriately enough will end its efforts in a very academic place. All the more reason why we should listen to it, in these days when freedom of speech and thought is being threatened.
The record of Mr. Thomas permits of not the least doubt of his sincerity and enthusiasm in the cause of liberalism. This year the Socialist party offers the voter's only chance to protest conscription, and to vote for an extension of democracy at home as the best defense of America. It is a protest party, hopeful not of victory, but of rolling up enough votes to bring pressure on the major parties.
Casting a "protest" vote does not appeal to many persons. It is mainly for those who consider a certain abstract principle more important than actual effectiveness. For them, Mr. Thomas is the ideal man; he has often shunned some of labor's most effective partisans because of disagreement over abstract questions.
Last year, most students would have agreed with Mr. Thomas's foreign policy--no aid to Britain, and a strict neutrality in the European war. This year not many would. The change among adult voters is probably equally as marked. But Mr. Thomas is not trimming his sails to the change of wind. He is sticking to his principles, upholding a stand that would probably get him expelled from Columbia, ostracized from the best society, and punched in the nose in Congress. From Harvard, this candidate for President of the United States deserves a warm welcome.