The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


NEW YORK, Thursday—Election Days come and Election Days go. In the course of my existence I have seen the Democratic Party lose and win a number of times. A defeat really is of little importance. The only thing that matters is what you do with your defeat. If you analyze it and learn from it, I think defeat very often can be as valuable for the future as victory.

It all depends upon one's ability to learn! If one profits by defeat and gains more wisdom for the next turn of the political wheel, it will be a valuable experience. If one becomes discouraged to the point of feeling that the period out of office cannot be usefully employed, then it can be a harmful experience.

From my own point of view, being out of office has always been a pleasant situation. Having no responsibility, while being able to sit on the side lines and observe with a critical eye, is one of the most delightful positions I know.

* * *

Of course, my time for active participation in politics is long gone by. I could not again go barnstorming through the state organizing the women, as Mrs. Daniel O'Day, Mrs. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Miss Cook, Miss Dickerman and I used to do, after Miss Harriet May Mills had pointed the way. Those, of course, were the days when women's active part in politics was at stake, and it was great fun seeing them learn to participate and seeing the gentlemen learn to consider them as individuals and as voters.

The men haven't learned quite yet how important the women are, but perhaps this election will serve to point up the fact that I have preached for so many years. Women must be enthusiastic for a candidate, and their interests cannot be ignored. Even children should not be ignored. They actually figure in many a candidate's popularity!

* * *

History is repeating itself in so many ways, at least so far as this country is concerned, and I only hope that we will be constantly on our guard.

The boom-and-bust Republican period of the 1920s and 1930s is not something that any of us wish to see recur.

Some of the election results are really pleasant to contemplate. For one, Mrs. Helen Gahagen Douglas, of California retained her seat in Congress. She never shirked saying what she believed in, and she certainly ran on her record. She made very few campaign speeches, spending much of her time attending sessions of the United Nations here in New York. She put the U.N. and world peace above her own election.

Her conduct of her campaign proves, I think, that people like honesty and convictions in their candidates, and that they recognize integrity.

Nevertheless, many another candidate who had many of these same qualities went down to defeat, and I deeply regret their loss. But such is the fortune of political life!

At one time or another, defeat comes to all who are willing to take part in political life. To be truly active in politics, one must enjoy every part of the political game. Then when defeat comes, there must be sufficient interest in outside things in order to acclimate oneself with added zest to a different kind of occupation. Real activity in politics takes one completely away from personal concerns.

This is the basis of service in a democratic form of government, and I hope that the defeated Democratic candidates, who made the run with a real desire to be of service, will still keep this desire and apply it in service to their local communities.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics
  • Democracy, Principles of
  • Peace
         [ LC | Wikidata | FAST ]
  • State governments
         [ LC | FAST ]
  • Women in Public Affairs
  • Women--Suffrage
         [ LC | FAST ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 8, 1946

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

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
    [ ISNI ]
  • Black, Allida M. (Editor)
    [ VIAF | ISNI ]
  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]
  • Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
    [ VIAF | ORCID ]

Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

XML master last modified on May 2, 2022.

HTML version generated and published on May 3, 2022.

Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.