The legislative confusion that confounded Wood-row Wilson in 1918 and Herbert Hoover in 1930 may appear again--while the United States writhes in another world crisis--when the votes of next Tuesday's election are tabulated and the Eightieth Congress is on its way to Washington. Both the pages of history and the opinions of "political experts" portend a loss of Democratic power. But should scattered defeats become a national rout, both the voting records of Republican congressmen and the plans of G.O.P. leaders augur two years of stalemate and a future of reaction.
Should the Democrats lose control of the legislature Republican forces would exert vital power in committee to augment the blocks they could throw at Administration measures on the Congressional floor. In the Upper House, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, who has consistently inaugurated, sponsored, and voted for measures designed to strangle price- control, would assume chairmanship of the Finance Committee. Behind the padded doors of a committee chamber, Taft would have power to do more than merely east another vote. With a record distinguished by support of the relinquishing of claims on tideland oil, and by his effort to kill the Hicken-looper Amendment to the Full-Employment Bill, he would head one of the Senate's most influential groups. The price of Republican victory in the Senate would also mean the assumption of the Naval Affairs Committee chairmanship by South Dakota's Chan Gurney. Gurney, whose record includes supporting a labor draft, crippling of the Bretton Woods Agreement, and maintaining high tariffs, would replace present chairman Elbert Thomas of Utah, an outstanding progressive.
In the House of Representatives, where a Republican majority is even more likely, such men as Joe Martin, Charles Eaton of New Jersey, and Harold Knutson of Minnesota would assume leadership. Martin, who would replace Sam Rayburn as Speaker of the House, is on record as opposing Lend-Lease, the draft, and its extension, while advocating a general reduction of taxes for a government whose economic realm has been tremendously enlarged by national emergency. Facing Martha Sharp in the 14th District here, he has opposed workable trade agreements, price-control, and even a federal program of hot lunches for school children. His zealous financial pruning stopped, however, when he cast a ballot for the Wood-Rankin Un-American Activities inquisition. Knutson, who might assume leadership of the Ways and Means Committee, did his best for democracy in withdrawing during the vote on the Anti-Poll Tax Bill. Energetic Sol Bloom, a perfect picture of a legislator, would turn over his chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the event of a Republican victory to Charles Eaton whose action in the field of foreign affairs extends to support of a measure authorizing the use of UNRRA funds as a political weapon.
While the records of a representative in California may seem remote to the voter in Massachusetts, in practically every important measure appearing before the Seventy Ninth Congress, Democrats from California voted with Democrats from Massachusetts. With Southern Democrats maintaining a constant bloe to swing the balance right or left, Congressmen split along strict party lines on everything from the Tidelands Oil Bill to the proposal to establish a permanent Wood-Rankin Committee.
Next week's election will serve not to see "the best man win," but will instead--with the 1948 contest becoming current business--put party barriers in even bolder relief. Should the Republicans carry Congress, the clash between administration and legislature would further garble Washington's almost unsolvable political puzzle. The result of this election will mean more than a question on your next Gov. 1b examination. In your vote lies your future.