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Scylla and Charybdis


The November elections pose an unpleasant question for the American Liberal--how to cast his vote where it will do the least harm to the Progressive movement. Republican campaign hoopla features undisguised "Back to Normalcy"; while the Democratic administration, which for 12 years carried the battle flag of Liberalism, is generaled by leaders whose political philosophy is almost indistinguishable from "Silent Cal" Republicanism. Neither party offers a constructive, integrated program for social or economic progress; and the strategy of both emphasizes catchy slogans at the expense of troublesome ideology.

Though a casual inspection of the November menu offers no really palatable choice, the history and the potentialities of the two parties present opportunity for a reasoned decision. The Democratic Party is traditionally the champion of the "little man." Only under Jackson and Roosevelt has the liberal program been the keystone of administration policy; but liberal elements within the party have kept it conscious of the social and economic needs of the nation. And, despite their temporary eclipse, most of the country's liberal politicians are still to be found within the ranks of the Democratic Party.

The exceptions to this rule add further complications to November's balloting. The federal nature of our government causes party ideology to vary from state to state. In some elections a progressive Republican rates the nod over an unsavory Democratic candidate. But Republicans of the Stassen-Dirksen variety are far fewer than Democrats of the Monroney-Pepper-Mead mold. And, in the Congressional races at least, a mediocre Democrat is preferable to a mediocre Republican. A.G.O.P. majority in either house of the 80th Congress will mean two years of confusion and stalemate between the President and his legislature.

1946 finds the American Liberal a man without a party, but not a man without hope. By 1948 post-war escapism may have run its course. When the nation has "had enough" platitudinous political ponderosity and the public voices a plea for effective, progressive leadership, the Democratic Party will be eager to follow the program of its liberal membership.

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