Dickens in his Tale of Two Cities summed up pre-French Revolution feeling with this sentence: "We had everything before us, we had nothing before us." The CRIMSON wonders if Massachusetts voters do not face the same problem in the state's gubernatorial contest. The contenders are hefty incumbent Governor Paul A. Dever, seeking a third term, and Congressman Christian A. Herter.
To the impassioned Democrat, Dever has everything to offer: he has supported much of Massachusetts' progressive labor legislation, built badly-needed roads, and subsidized the construction of local schools with state money. To the ardent Republican though, he has done nothing good at all. For him Deverism equals corruption, bloated expenditures, incompetent administration.
Christian A. Herter, to the banner-waving Democrat, is a Beacon Hill aristocrat who, as Dever said recently, has "no more understanding of the problems of the men and women who must work for a living than a blind man of colors." But to the Republican, perturbed about innumerable men clocking cars on useless roads during the campaign, Herter will cut down pregnant payrolls.
The button-wearing Democrat and the outraged Republican pretty much cancel each other out in their dogmatism, and this leaves those much-abused voters, dubbed "independents," to choose which candidate will be successful.
Dever's record has not been good. What the Democratic National Convention keynoter has done is simple: he has combined a bit of progressivism with a sloppy, easy-going philosophy that allows Deverites in and out of office to do pretty much as they please. Thus the Attorney General, who earns a salary of $18,000 from the state, reported a net income of $50,000 last year from outside activities. Attempts to limit these activities of the Attorney General have been squelched.
We have supported much of Dever's labor legislation, such as his liberalization of the Workmen's Compensation Act, added unemployment compensation benefits, and solid minimum wages. But Dever has profited as much as the labor unions, for labor feels it must reimburse him with support at election time. He is building a new state prison, he has virtually outlawed capital punishment. But when he had a chance to prove that he really believes in progressive penal methods, he turned his back and whimpered "what can I do?" This was when his Correction Commissioner attempted to oust the reforming woman superintendent of a state woman's prison, Miriam Van Waters. Massachusetts needs new roads, and Dever is building new roads. But he is doing so at an incredible price, five times the nation's average, and in a period of inflation when there is no unemployment problem and costs are high.
Herter's voting record in the House of Representatives, on the other hand, has not been encouraging either. He has voted against Home Owners Loan Corporation, public housing, strong anti-inflation controls and rent controls. Yet while in the Massachusetts House, he was one of the first backers of the state's Unemployment Compensation Law, and in Congress he voted for slum clearance, Federal F.E.P.C., and extension of Social Security.
Thus the objective voter is left with the disconcerting proposition of choosing between two men, neither inspiring or sincerely progressive. While the CRIMSON disagrees most vehemently with many of Herter's votes both in Congress and in the Massachusetts House, we favor Herter's election. We have reached this conclusion by simple cancellation: put Herter's record against Dever's and you have nothing except the awesome machine created during Dever's two terms in office, cemented together through the age-old mixture of a little favoritism with a good bit of monetary prodigality. Herter's election means the destruction of both the well-functioning machine and the clique that runs it, and it is because of this alone that we favor Herter.