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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON —Not many days ago I read with considerable amusement the following statement: "Carmine De Sapio charged today that it was the Republicans and not the Democrats in New York who were boss-controlled."

Has Mr. De Sapio forgotten the Democratic convention in New York State? There are many Democrats in the State who will remember it for a very long time.

They are good Democrats, they want their party to represent the principles it has stood for in the past, nationally and state-wide. But they are interested in the democratic process and the participation on a free basis of elected convention delegates in their choice of candidates and in the formation of policy.

They will gladly accept leadership when they feel that leadership is worthy, but they have an understanding of the difference between leadership and dictatorship. When they see the governor of their state and the mayor of the largest city humiliated by the boss of a great city machine, they can hardly feel that the democratic process is working very well.

I have no illusions that the Republican party is any better than the Democratic party. In fact, I am inclined to believe that boss rule in the Republican party has been made more solid in New York State through the support of former Governor Thomas E. Dewey, for instance, and on a national scale through the acquiescence of Republican political figures in high positions.

Mr. De Sapio may be quite right "that Republican nominations and policies were dictated by a small group of bankers and industrialists who hold no party positions." The influence of these gentlemen in the Republican party on a national scale has certainly been very evident, and it is quite possible that it spreads into New York State.

But because it may be so in the Republican party, the Republican party leaders should be concerned in changing it, and that does not lessen the concern that good Democrats should have in lessening boss control in the Democratic party, particularly stupid control.

Many of us believe that for the nation and for the state the greatest advances were made by the Democratic party when it was controlled by liberal Democrats and not by bosses. The political bosses have their place, but they should be controlled by the policies that the leaders of the party formulate and the nominations should be made in consultation with them.

Poor nominations should never be made because of the domination of political bosses. The leaders of the party should insist on having the people nominated whom they consider will best serve the interests not of the party only, but of the nation.

When Mr. De Sapio makes a speech such as he has made, he highlights a situation that upset good Democrats not only in New York State but in many other parts of the country.

The only recent thing, perhaps, that has done the Republican party an equal amount of harm is the statement issued jointly by Republican leaders after a luncheon with President Eisenhower and Vice-President Nixon. That statement is so partisan and distorts the facts and realities of situations to such an extent that I think many liberal Republicans running for office will find it hard to accept.

I hope that Mr. De Sapio, who is a highly intelligent man, will learn what real leadership is before he does the Democratic party any more harm. The real Democrats of New York State would rather trust the leadership of Governor Harriman, Mayor Wagner of New York City and Senator Herbert H. Lehman than that of any political boss. The voters resent humiliation and flaunting of boss power against their real leaders.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 17, 1958

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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