August 23, 1960
LONDON. -- "In your opinion what are the issues of this election and what are the differences that you see for the resolution of these issues by the two candidates?" That question was in my mail the other day and I would like to take this opportunity to state my views.
One of the overriding issues is the conduct of foreign policy. And the man I feel best fitted to formulate a new approach that must be taken in our world situation is Mr. Adlai Stevenson. Of course, in the Democratic party we also have Mr. Chester Bowles, who is an extremely able man and familiar with Asia and Africa.
Mr. Stevenson has been in 45 countries during the past two years. He has studied the conditions of the peoples in these countries and their problems. He is respected by the heads of governments all over the world. He has been one of the close advisers to the Democratic candidate on foreign policy.
No candidate should be asked, in the event of election, whom he will name as his Secretary of State or for any other position in his Cabinet. But a candidate shows in his campaign with whom he is consulting on foreign affairs -- and I feel strongly that the issue of new policies in our foreign relations is one of the overriding issues between the two parties.
Next, I consider that the farm situation and our whole agricultural policy1 has been a failure, both at home and abroad. We have treated this vital problem as though it were a domestic issue and as though the only consideration we had to think about was whether it annoyed us to have such surpluses that created a financial difficulty.
When one travels about the world one often is told: "We hear that you pay to keep land out of production and still you have more food in your country than your people can eat. Our people go to bed hungry every night. Can you think of no better way to use your land and its products?"
There has been no imagination shown by the present Administration to try to develop a completely new policy; there has been no willingness to cooperate with the United Nations specialized agency for food and agriculture.2
Here's another question: What leadership have we had from the leader of the Republican party in the area of human rights and civil liberties? The answer: Just one committee, named by the President and chaired by the Vice-President to try to remove discrimination where there were government contracts involved!3
It is the head of the nation who sets the tone for what you do on a moral issue such as this one in our country. Instead, the Republican party has claimed that it was sufficient to let the U.S. Supreme Court render a decision and then to let the nation's leader declare that he did not wish to interfere in this situation!4 The result is that our leadership has been so down-graded that in Asia and Africa, where new nations are sensitive as to whether they are going to be treated as equals, it is held in really low esteem.
These are three big issues. And there is the record of votes between the two candidates which to me -- from the point of view of a voting citizen -- is rather important. And I would not hesitate to say that Sen. John F. Kennedy has an outstanding record for voting right on questions that involve the well-being of the people of our country as a whole.
Index to this Document: 1960 presidential election: ER, on; Africa: Brown decision and; U.S. policy toward; Asia: Brown decision and; U.S. policy toward; Bowles, Chester: foreign policy experience of; My Day and; Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education: Eisenhower and; foreign policy ramifications of, Africa and; Republican Party response to; ER and; Eisenhower, Dwight D.: agricultural policy of; Brown decision and; Little Rock Central High School, integration of; My Day and; ER on; Kennedy, John F.; Little Rock Central High School: Eisenhower and; integration of; My Day; on Africa; on Asia; on Chester Bowles; on civil rights; on Eisenhower; on Nixon; on Stevenson; Nixon, Richard: civil rights and; My Day and; President's Committee on Government Contracts and; ER's criticism of; Republican Party: Brown decision and; civil rights and; ER's criticism of; Roosevelt, Eleanor: on 1960 presidential election; on Brown decision; on civil rights; on Eisenhower administration; on Nixon; on Republican Party; U.S. government, on agricultural policy; UN, Food and Agriculture Organization and; Stevenson, Adlai E.: as possible Secretary of State; foreign policy experience of; My Day and; United Nations (UN): Food and Agriculture Organization, ER and; U.S. Government: foreign policy of, ER on; President's Committee on Government Contracts, Nixon and; Secretary of State, Stevenson as possible; Supreme Court
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at https://erpapers.columbian.gwu.edu/.
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