April 7, 1934 - Editorial - The Great Illusion, by George Lorimer

The Saturday Evening Post is neither a Republican nor a Democratic organ. It does not condone the abuses of power and trust of the Republican Party while it was in office, and it cannot indorse those policies and experiments of the New Deal that look to the left. In our opinion, this is a time when the press and the public must examine thoroughly and feel free to criticize every proposal advanced by the Administration. We can imagine no greater disservice to the country than the hush-hush policy by so many adherents to the New Deal. It is better to be careful now than sorry later. It is safer to put over one sound plan than a dozen doubtful experiments. Recovery is important, but the fundamental issue today is the preservation of Democracy and our traditional American liberties along with recovery.

It is hard to believe that when the Republicans were in office they were 100% crooked. It is equally hard to believe that the Democrats are 100% pure, now that they have taken over the Government, for there is more than a suspicion that there are seekers after special privilege in their ranks of the same stripe as those who were in the breastworks or were camp followers of the Republican Party. In appraising both parties, it is well to remember that under Republican rule the promises and the covenants of the Government were kept. On the other hand, the recent devaluation and financial programs that involved a repudiation of our solemn covenants are a blot on the ‘scutcheon of the Democratic Party which no emergency soft soap will wash out. Furthermore, we are now being told that some of these "emergency" measures, which were cheerfully accepted by the public for the duration of the emergency, are to be made permanent.

The question before the American people - a question that is inextricably interwoven with the policies and experiments of the moment - is this: Do we want a democratic or a collectivist system? Do we want freedom as individuals to live our lives under the Constitution and free courts; do we want individual opportunity and scope to work out our private and business lives within sane and law-abiding limits or do we want to be regimented - told what we can do, how much we can do and when we can do it; do we want a free press, a free radio and free speech, or someone to tell us what we can think and what we can say? Secretary Wallace, in denying that we are tainted with either Fascism or Communism, says that we are living in a state of illusion. We agree, but we would like to make it plural. Among many others, our illusions is that Nature is not the dominant partner in all farm operations, and that theories which clash with realities are workable.

If we do not want to swing far over to the left, a strong and intelligent opposition party must take the field. As it is today, both the Democratic and Republican Parties embrace conservatives, liberals, socialists and opportunists. The so-called Progressives have been playing both ends against the middle and are today, in everything except the label they cling to for purely political reasons, frankly Democrats. The Republican Party has lacked the courage to make them move over into the New Deal bed and lie there. But unless the Republican Party cleans house, adopts a liberal platform, while holding fast to American constitutional ideals and principles, we can see small chance for it.

Today there is no clear line of cleavage in the membership of the two parties. The Democratic Party has cut loose from its traditions and stands for a strongly centralized, bureaucratic Government that is getting a grip on every kind of private business and putting into effect many extremely radical measures that look towards ultimate collectivism. Some of those who loosely call themselves Republicans belong in the Democratic Party. An even larger number of those labeled Democrats, who still hold to traditional American ideals and institutions, belong in a reformed and reconstructed Republican Party.

Right now there is a "What the hell!" attitude in the air. A large part of the public is saying, "We can't be any worse off than we were, so we'll take a chance on this one." That is the new philosophy that goes with the New Deal.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that we are having government by amateurs - college boys, irrespective of their age - who, having drunk deep, perhaps, from the Persian spring, have recently taken some hearty swigs of Russian vodka. We cannot solve our problems with a discredited European ideology and a Marxian philosophy.

The great illusion of the moment is that we can gain any worthwhile happiness or prosperity by the sacrifice of our hardly won liberties. (pp. 22-23)

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