If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1952


I do not want to see the Republicans running the country, but I feel it's wrong for one party to have been in power as long as the Democrats. What suggestions do you have for a voter in this predicament?

I imagine that there are many voters who are in the same predicament. Most of us believe in a two-party system. We also believe that changes should come when the majority of the people feel, for some important reason or reasons, that a change should take place. The old saying, “a new broom sweeps clean,” has, of course, something in it, but as long as one feels that there are overriding reasons for keeping any party in power I think one has to vote for that party even if other, less important, reasons may make a change seem desirable.


I read somewhere that General Marshall does not favor the idea of a military man as President of the United States. Did your husband ever express an opinion on this subject?

No, I never heard my husband express an opinion on this subject, but once he mentioned that being a successful Army officer, like General Grant, did not always mean you would be a successful President.


Of all the lies the Communists have told the people of Europe about Americans, which do you feel are most widely accepted as the truth?

That we are imperialist and trying to conquer the world through control of the economies of countries; that we are not interested in humanitarian services but only make believe that we are; that they are anxious for peace and we want war.


My wife, who is 65, cannot bear to have anyone mention the subject of death. I think this is wrong, don't you? Have you a philosophy about death that might help her?

Your wife may not want death mentioned because she is afraid it will make those around her sad, but I think death should be treated as naturally as one treats birth or any other great experience. The seasons merge into each other, the flowers die and are born again. We may not ever make up our minds as to exactly how the promise of immortality is carried out, but all of us have an instinctive belief in immortality. I have never understood why people worry about exactly what form immortality takes. We have to accept what is in store for us, so why worry about it? The incentive for us to live to the best of our ability every minute of our lives lies in this fact of immortality.


Are you writing or planning to write a third installment of your autobiography?

I have been asked to do so, but I think it is a little early to undertake another volume. A few years from now my active life may be over, and that would be a good time to write this rather personal history.


We have just learned that our 12-year-old son will have to wear braces on his legs for the rest of his life. We are heartsick about this, and we hoped perhaps you could tell us how we could make it easier for him.

I think you will find that at twelve your boy will make his own adjustments. If he must wear braces he will learn to get about and do it far better than you now think is possible. I do not, of course, know what his illness is, but it is possible that exercises might eventually strengthen some of his muscles. There are doctors who make a specialty of this type of treatment. If you will let me know your address I will try to let you know if there is someone in your vicinity.


What is your answer to the statement about your husband which appears in Jesse Jones's memoirs: "Regardless of his oft-repeated statement, 'I hate war,' he was eager to get into the fighting, since that would insure a third term"?

This statement could not possibly be true. The most elementary thing in human nature is the desire to protect one's children. Mr. Jones had no children who would inevitably have to go to war. My husband knew full well that if war came our four sons not only would go to war but would ask to have waived many of the physical defects which kept others out of the war, so that they might go into more dangerous places.


What do you think are the most difficult problems involved in marrying an only child?

The fact that as a rule an only child has been accustomed to being the center of the stage and may find it difficult to enter into a dual relationship where each partner is equal. Also the parents of an only child are apt to expect more consideration, since their whole interest has been centered in this child, and the adjustments to the new relationship are sometimes difficult.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 79, April 1952

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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