APRIL 28, 1948
NEW YORK, Tuesday—The nicest part of any trip is coming home. And I am sure that every American who returns to New York from abroad has that same feeling as his ship comes up the bay and he sees the Statue of Liberty—symbol of the first contact with our homeland. Grateful as I am for the opportunity I've had to learn about conditions in the various countries I've visited, as well as for the chance to see so many friends, coming home is still the nicest part of going away—and I feel like embracing every one I meet!
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I have received a rather interesting account of the activities of a group of young people prior to the recent primary election in Illinois. What they did really might be a pattern for what "democracy in action" might achieve all over the country.
This group—in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago—was backing a 25-year-old Republican for Congress, but it is not the particular candidate that interests me. It is the fact that a number of young people, many of whom apparently had never been active in politics before, organized themselves and held political meetings in their homes, asking those who were invited to any one meeting to go and organize another.
Through their meetings, they made a decision on whom they wished to support in the primaries. Then they issued a 3-page pamphlet listing their reasons for thinking him a good candidate for Congress, stating his position on the most important issues that will come before Congress, and giving a biographical sketch of the young man.
This pattern might well be used by both the major political parties as a method of educating the voters, both in pre-primary and pre-election campaigns. It could be used by existing organizations and would result in a more informed vote, for the records, policies and platforms of various candidates could be discussed and studied in informal meetings.
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While on the subject of young people and "democracy in action," I want to tell you about a meeting of youth organizations which is to be held in London this summer. Great Britain is trying to get together some non-Communist youth groups, in which effort they hope for the cooperation of similar groups in the United States.
These groups need government support. In totalitarian countries, where such organizations are strictly supervised, government support is much easier to provide than in a democratic country, where youth is free to act as it thinks best and might not always agree with its government!
This same problem comes up at international meetings (such as those of the agencies of the United Nations), in which various kinds of non-governmental groups are invited to participate. Democracy requires freedom, and education for that freedom takes longer and is more difficult than if you are indoctrinating people along certain lines and can exact complete obedience.
I think this whole question requires some serious thought. And I hope the U.S. Government will call a conference of the most qualified experts to devote a little thought to the problem of clarifying and expressing the beliefs and convictions of a democratic people. They should also give the people reasons on which to base these beliefs and convictions so that they will be as clear and unwavering as possible.