FDR: Dems fail when they fall “into the control of interests … which think in terms of dollars”

This is via MichaelMoore.com. Apparently, FDR decided before his historic third term nomination, with Nazis in Paris and war at the gate, to decline the Democratic nomination. The reason — conservative (including Southern) Dems at the convention had opposed FDR for jettisoning John Nance Garner, his conservative VP, in favor of the great progressive Henry Wallace.

The convention opposed his VP pick before Roosevelt arrived, and Roosevelt was moved to write the following letter to his fellow Democrats. In it he declared his intention to decline the nomination if Wallace was not selected as well. Here’s the letter. Note the language and his apt analysis (my emphasis):

Franklin D. Roosevelt Letter to the Democratic Convention

July 18, 1940

Members of the Convention:

In the century in which we live, the Democratic Party has received the support of the electorate only when the party, with absolute clarity, has been the champion of progressive and liberal policies and principles of government.

The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.

The Republican Party has made its nominations this year at the dictation of those who, we all know, always place money ahead of human progress.

The Democratic Convention, as appears clear from the events of today, is divided on this fundamental issue. Until the Democratic Party through this convention makes overwhelmingly clear its stand in favor of social progress and liberalism, and shakes off all the shackles of control fastened upon it by the forces of conservatism, reaction, and appeasement, it will not continue its march of victory.

It is without question that certain political influences pledged to reaction in domestic affairs and to appeasement in foreign affairs have been busily engaged behind the scenes in the promotion of discord since this Convention convened.

Under these circumstances, I cannot, in all honor, and will not, merely for political expediency, go along with the cheap bargaining and political maneuvering which have brought about party dissension in this convention.

It is best not to straddle ideals.

In these days of danger when democracy must be more than vigilant, there can be no connivance with the kind of politics which has internally weakened nations abroad before the enemy has struck from without.

It is best for America to have the fight out here and now.

I wish to give the Democratic Party the opportunity to make its historic decision clearly and without equivocation. The party must go wholly one way or wholly the other. It cannot face in both directions at the same time.

By declining the honor of the nomination for the presidency, I can restore that opportunity to the convention. I so do.

Moore adds that the letter was never delivered:

In the end the letter was never sent, as a speech by Eleanor Roosevelt turned the tide for Wallace at the convention. … Roosevelt’s letter, with its powerful critique of the Democratic Party, was published almost nowhere and was essentially unknown before it appeared in Oliver Stone’s new Showtime documentary series Untold History of the United States.

Word to the wise, and to those less so. Obama is on the verge of killing the Democratic Party brand. He will never face another election and plans to float, after the next four years have passed, on legacy-wings to million-dollar thank-you events.

You Democrats who will face the people again, will you trade his bright future for yours? That’s the choice before you.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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