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Susan Green

Truman Tears into Republicans –
While Dem Congress Does Nothing

(7 March 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 10, 7 March 1949, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

President Truman took the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner – to which naturally all rank-and-file Democrats were invited at $110-a-plate admission – as the occasion once more to strut his stuff. In his best campaign manner he upbraided the “special interests” and shook his finger at the Republicans and pledged himself to his dear, dear people. Only one thing was sadly askew.

When the President was campaigning for his re-election, there was at least some reason for his blaming the Republicans for the failure of his program – the 80th Congress was a Republican Congress. Today when he points his finger at the Republicans for the breakdown of his “Fair Deal” he doesn’t have even that reason – the 81st Congress is a Democratic Congress.

The “mandate of the people” given the Democratic Party and its leader and its platform in the November election, is being swept under the carpet by the Democratic Congress. This fact the Democratic President chose to ignore. Today, two months after the 81st Congress went into session, all the most important measures are still tied up in committees of both houses.

Stalled in Committee

Every one of these committees has a Democratic majority – and what’s the result? No law has come out of the Senate Labor Committee; the Taft-Hartley law is still the law of the land. It is likely to remain the law when the unions make their bids for new contracts this spring, thus militating against labor in the negotiations. The Labor Committee has a Democratic majority!

The housing bill which the Senate committee is reporting out is a much abridged edition of the President’s proposition, which means that reactionary Democrats have gone along with the reactionary Republicans. Again, though rent control is such a burning issue, no bill is yet ready for submission to either house. Why hasn’t the Democratic majority done something about this?

Everybody – absolutely everybody – agrees that there should be a more adequate minimum wage law, but the issue is batted about in committee. Most of the Democrats are as reactionary as the Republicans when it comes to raising wages and thus trespassing on the domain of profits.

With unemployment rising, better social security provisions become urgent and many Democrats are probably thanking their lucky stars that there are the reactionary Republicans to take the lead in the fight for the former’s own reactionary views.

As to the filibuster amendment and the civil rights program, not even the President can contend that the Republicans are responsible for the deadlock. His own Democratic comrades from the South are the Gibraltar of reaction they have always been.

Again, when President Truman in his speech referred with contempt to the lobbyists, he must of course have known that the Democrats are not impervious to lobbyists’ pressures just as the Republicans are not.

Neither is the President less astute than the editors of the U.S. News & World Report in seeing that “Senator George, of Georgia, is becoming the real majority leader of the Senate, not only on tax policy but on spending policy, foreign policy and some other policies as well – the Georgia senator inclines to a conservative viewpoint on most issues of policy.” A very conservative evaluation of Senator George’s conservative viewpoint!

Fooled Nobody

The President’s tirade against the special interests, the lobbyists and the reactionary Republicans, carefully omitting the Democrats who are in control of Congress, fooled nobody who knows the score. His threat to get on his choo-choo train once more and make another whistle-stop campaign for his program is an admission that his leadership of his party is something less than effectual. The Democrats in Congress are not with the Democratic President.

In passing, it must be noted that the President is not nearly as liberal and progressive as his tirades against the special interests, the lobbyists and the reactionary Republicans, carefully omitting the reactionary Democrats, would imply. A few weeks ago, in the Senate Labor Committee discussion on the question of anti-labor injunctions, the proof of this pudding was made in the eating, so to speak. It was amply clear that the President consented to leave the provision for anti-labor injunctions out of the new administration labor bill only on assurance from his Attorney General that the right to obtain anti-labor injunctions is implicit in the “inherent powers” of the President.

But this point of the dubious liberalism of the President is made in passing. The conflict between Congress and the President, and the failure of the Democratic majority to implement the program of their party, is something for the people who gave their mandate on election day, to think about. It is not that this kind of reneging on campaign promises has not happened before. On the contrary, this is standard conduct on the part of the capitalist parties of both names. But in the 1948 election labor put more effort into a Democratic victory than heretofore, and the people as a whole seemed to place more hope in the Truman promises. A little thinking is therefore called for.

Same Old Party

How did the “Fair Deal” program of the Democratic Party in the 1948 election come into being? We might say: “Well, it’s only fly paper for catching votes.” True, but why this particular fly paper? Why the planks for more democracy through a civil rights program, why the planks for more social security, for housing, health, etc. Why the promise to repeal the Taft-Hartley law?

Why? Simply because these are now issues in the minds of the people, not deep in their subconscious, but consciously, actively and fightingly in their minds. There are enough top shelf men in the Democratic Party who know this, and who feel that a little something will have to be done in these directions.

Another factor that helped produce this particular campaign platform is the current fight against Stalinist “communism.” Fear has made some capitalist politicians believe that unless some of the peoples’ demands are granted and conditions are made more satisfying, capitalism will be vulnerable from within to the communist ideology.

So the pressure of the people – not the good of the people – and fear for the capitalist system combined in making the 1948 Democratic Party platform what it is. These are the reasons why the “progressives” won against the conservatives in the 1948 Democratic Party convention.

What Is Needed

However, the Democratic Party remains the same old party. It still shelters in the folds of its bedraggled skirts every grade of degraded reactionary! It is still held together by the same boss politics and by the spoils system. Its campaign chest is filled by the same methods. It is beholden to sections of the special interests Mr. Truman so vehemently lambastes. The candidates the party puts up are still lawyers, businessmen, professional politicians hardened in the game, in no way directly accountable to the people. So after the votes are counted and the winner is declared, the same old machine begins to function in the same old way.

The party platform is not expected to be a plan for united action. A capitalist party does not demand loyalty to the platform adopted by the majority in convention. Any Democrat can get by with a little lip service, if he wants to be a “progressive.” Actions are again something else. His actions are guided not by the party platform but by the interests he wishes to serve. No one is ever expelled from a capitalist party for disloyalty to a platform adopted by the majority. Far from it. The practice is to make deals all along the line, way down into the camp of the bourbon Dixiecrats. The party platform is remembered by the majority of the “people’s chosen representatives” to see how little they can adhere to it and still be able to come before the people for re-election.

From all this it is clear that another train ride by the President into the hinterland is nothing for the people to pin their hopes to. What is needed to fill the void is a new kind of political party: A party organized by the unions and other people’s bodies; a party whose leaders are made directly responsible to the rank and file; a party whose platform is the embodiment of the majority opinion of the party on what American productivity can do for the masses; a party whose candidates are held to loyalty to such a platform; a party which will be as different from the Capitalist parties as the working people are from the capitalist class.

This kind of party Labor Action calls an Independent Labor Party.

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