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Filmaker Oliver Stone (The Doors, JFK, Nixon, Natural Born Killers [nice group, no?]) is putting together a documentary for Showtime entitled "The Untold Story History of the United States."

In it, he references a letter FDR, frustrated with blue dog's dems efforts to remove Henry Wallace as his V-P candidate, wrote the following:

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.

So much about being "forced to do it."  Standing on ideals now becomes an important principle itself for the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, abarefootboy

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:03:51 AM PST

  •  Wendell Wilkie in 1940 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    Represented the progressive internationalist wing of the Republican party.  He was not about to dismantle the New Deal, and favored aid to Britain to enable the British to keep up their fight against Nazi Germany.  His surprize nomination, over right wing isolationists Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenburg, took away the need for FDR to run for a third term.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:14:09 AM PST

  •  Is this documentary as fact-starved as "JFK" (0+ / 0-)
  •  Except FDR was forced to "do it" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    and the absence of forces to make him do it was precisely the reason why the New Deal effectively ended after 1939.  Name one important piece of New Deal legislation that passed after 1939.  You can't.  On the other hand the period 1939-1945 saw the rollback of one New Deal program after another.

    FDR himself often employed stirring rhetoric such as what you've excerpted above only to turn around and do the exact opposite.  As he himself once explained this tactic in explaining his selection of financier Joseph Kennedy to become the first head of the SEC:

    "With my right arm I said, ‘Not one inch will I give in, not an inch!’ But with my left hand I said, ‘Boys, come and get it.’”
    And as for FDR's tough words here, they sure weren't reflected in his management of the years after 1940.  He put conservative Republicans like Henry Stimson and Frank Knox in charge of the war effort, and they recruited from Wall Street and big business, staffing war agencies with thousands of "dollar a year" men who came from corporate America and literally worked for a dollar a year, but in exchange obtained influence and contracts and connections for corporate interests.

    Tough words and stirring rhetoric are great, but they do not necessarily translate into action.  To have desirable action and results, the people must demand action or act themselves.  Pressuring the President is but one small part of such action.  Of far greater importance is actually shaping the political discussion, the political climate, and pressuring legislators.

    “Th’ noise ye hear is not th’ first gun iv a revolution. It’s on’y th’ people iv the United States batin’ a carpet.” - Mr. Dooley

    by puakev on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:56:59 AM PST

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