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Jack Ranger

There Is Nothing to Be Gained
from Dewey, Truman or Wallace

(4 October 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 40, 4 October 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Thanks largely to the absence of a national labor party in the field, the 1948 Presidential campaign has to date been one of the most insipid and uninteresting in the nation’s history. Local columnists throughout the nation report that popular interest in the elections is at a low ebb. The only incidents that provoke much discussion are those involving the violence against Henry Wallace by Ku Klux elements in the South, the stoning of Progressive Party candidates in Illinois, and the crooked deals by both Democratic and Republican machines to keep the minor parties off the ballot.

Among the masses of voters there is little enthusiasm for either Dewey or Truman. Neither of the two candidates, in their current speaking tours, has indicated that he would behave any differently in the White House in the next four years than he has always behaved throughout his political career. Neither has indicated that the people have anything more to hope for from the government after the elections than continued war-mongering, continued higher taxes, an intensified crack-down on labor, more red-baiting, nothing new on housing.

The only true words spoken by either candidate were those uttered by Governor Dewey aboard his campaign train that “beginning next January 20 we will have the biggest, toughest, most successful unsnarling, unraveling house cleaning that our government ever got.”

Not Kidding About One Thing

For the American people, THAT will be the end result of the campaign. All the energies of the Republican Party are devoted to replacing the Democratic Party’s control of the executive branch of the government, while in other respects leaving matters exactly as they were. The whole sham campaign aims at the substitution of one clique of the ruling class for another.

Dewey wasn’t kidding when he promised to clean house. Republican camp-followers have been out of office for 16 years, and they all have their tongues out, panting for the jobs of incumbent Democrats. And they’ll get many of those jobs. Democratic office-holders who think they are protected by civil service had best prepare for some shocks. A Republican, Rees of Kansas, is head of the House civil service committee, and Rees’ party will find all sorts of ways to get rid of government employees suspected of partisanship to the rival party.

Dewey has shown himself to be even more platitudinous than one would suspect. Here is a sample of his recent discussion of domestic issues delivered in Illinois:

“As a nation we are troubled today by many things and we must remove many fears. We are troubled by high prices and we must end the maladjustments which cause them. We need more houses for our people. We must widen the opportunities of our youth. We must increase the security of our older people. We must protect our enterprise system from monopoly while encouraging free and fuller production for the benefit of all our citizens,” etc., etc.

Truman Does No Better

Such empty generalities are downright comic.

Truman does no better. Like Roosevelt before him, he holds up the scarecrow figure of Herbert Hoover in a high stiff collar, shakes it in front of the nation, and warns that a Republican victory will bring another economic crash.

Both the AFL and CIO like to wear a politically neutral tint. In principle, the high officials of these federations hold in horror all definiteness in respect of political views or conceptions of the world order. Most of the union officialdom rejects with loathing the idea of a labor party.

These people, you see, are “practical.” But they are not even smart at practical politics. It must be clear to every reader that Dewey is a cinch to be the next President, and that he will carry into office a Republican majority of Congress. A really practical politician would string along with the New York governor.

But not the AFL nor the CIO. The AFL after adjournment of Its recent executive board meeting in Chicago, reconstituted itself as a committee to re-elect Truman. The CIO officialdom too is behind Truman. In Illinois, the CIO Political Action Committee has issued a list of indorsed candidates which with but two exceptions were the Democratic national, state and Congressional tickets. Presumably the CIO in other sections is doing the same thing.

The PAC says that the Taft-Hartley law is the key test – conveniently overlooking the fact that that measure became law with the active support of a MAJORITY of the Democrats in Congress.

The Republican Senator from Illinois, Brooks, slyly observed the other day that Truman’s attacks on the Taft-Hartley act “constitute an indictment of the 126 Democrats whose votes for the bill made possible its enactment ... When the 80th Congress enacted the measure into law, we Republicans were joined by 20 Democratic senators and 106 Democratic representatives,” Brooks said. “Without them, the Republican bloc in both branches of Congress could not have passed the bill over the Presidential veto ... The President is only embarrassing a great many of his own party members.”

Stop This Sham Battle

It is clear that the margin of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is narrower than at any time in history. It is likewise clear that labor’s influence with both wings of the Big Business political machine is declining to the vanishing point.

This explains the widespread apathy surrounding the 1948 elections. Voters generally reject Wallace because of the Stalinists controlling his movement. Voters feel they have no place to go.

The United States will never be as ripe for the building of a labor party as it will be in the coming months and years. It will require such a labor party to bring meaning into the nation’s politics, and to bring hope to the people, whose apathy will turn to anger once they see that a Republican administration offers them nothing more than have 16 years of Democratic rule.

Today, the American workers constitute the largest and mightiest organization in the country, an army of more than 15,000,000 union members. Why should they be without a political party of their own, a program of their own?

The old capitalist parties have not protected labor. They have united to shackle the unions, to deny the people decent housing, to send prices sky-high, to involve the nation in war and warlike skirmishes. Labor must protect itself politically, and this requires that labor build its own party.

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