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Susan Green

Politics as Usual!

Some News and Comment
on the Election Campaign

(2 November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 44, 2 November 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The spring is the season for Barnum & Bailey circuses – for which you pay as you enter. But the fall is the season for election circuses – which you can enjoy free of charge.

Over here is the daring performer on the flying trapeze – Senator William H. Smathers, campaigning on the Democratic ticket for his re-election to the national Senate from the State of New Jersey. Over there is the dare-devil bare-back, rider, Albert W. Hawkes, Republican nominee opposing Smathers. They are performing for all they are worth. They aim to please a special audience – LABOR.

Smathers takes a flying leap at Hawkes, yelling:

“Mr. Hawkes’ entire career as an industrialist has been devoted to fighting labor!”

Hawkes snaps his whip at Smathers, shouting:

“What have you done in or out of Congress to advance the interests of labor? What labor bills did you vote for during your six years in office?”

Thus shamefully do two political charlatans vie for labor’s vote.

Both of them can only sell labor down the river. Smathers, Democrat, is reported not to have supported the Wages and Hours Act – even that begrudging legal acknowledgment of only some of labor’s elementary rights. Hawkes, Republican, is head of the Congoleum Nairn Corp. and a former president of the United States Chamber of Commerce – outfits unquestionably opposed to labor’s interests.

Labor – 50,000,000 strong, plus friends and relations – doesn’t have to sit around watching election circuses – and wasting its political might on Democratic and Republican representatives of boss interests.


Note: There is a senatorial candidate in New Jersey that Labor Action urges you to support: George Breitman, who is the candidate of the Socialist Workers Party. (See editorial, page 4.)

To give the devil his due, Thomas E. Dewey, Republican nominee for Governor of New York, has in the last week done something quite unusual for a campaigning candidate. He actually presented some real facts of great importance.

He spoke about the “homegrown fascists” who are staging a comeback on the dimmed-out streets of New York. He enumerated instances’ of wrecking and defacing synagogues, temples and Jewish centers, of attacks on individuals, of the appearance of the swastika smeared on walls and fences.

So far so good – but far from good enough!

What does Mr. Dewey propose to do about the home-grown fascists? Why, nothing – that is, NOTHING HERE ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK.

According to Mr. Dewey, all the fighting against fascism must be done at the respectable distance of thousands of miles from here – across the Atlantic and across the Pacific.

A serious and sincere anti-fascist fighter knows that the fascist evil must be fought on the spot where it appears. The Christian Front hoodlums and other menacing groups can be put out of business only by organized neighborhood guards and by organized trade union guards – prepared to whip the fascist attackers and wipe them out as soon as they raise their ugly heads. The experiences of Germany and Italy bear this out 100 per cent.

Mr. Dewey, and anyone else who implies that the war against the home-grown fascists can be fought in Germany and Japan, ACTUALLY ENCOURAGE THEIR GROWTH HERE.

John J. Bennett, Jr., Democratic nominee for Governor of New York, has been worried plenty. Having started his candidacy without the blessing of the leader of his party, he was at a disadvantage. President Roosevelt’s later statement that he will vote for Bennett as “the best qualified of the three legal party candidates,” still left the implication that Senator Mead – the President’s own choice – would have been better.

With the trend toward the Republican Party strengthening in some parts of the state, and with the prospect of the candidate of the ALP diverting some Democratic votes in New York City, an alarm went out to President Roosevelt to do something.

So the President has sent a telegram to the candidate of his party assuring him that his endorsement is “neither formal nor lukewarm.” Furthermore, Governor Lehman, Senator Wagner and others who opposed Bennett’s candidacy in favor of Mead – as well as Mead himself – are now moving heaven and earth to elect the man they did not want nominated.

There is as much PRINCIPLE involved in the support that these quick-change artists now give Bennett as there was in their opposition before. First it was a question of the Roosevelt crowd or the Farley crowd controlling the Democratic Party machine. Now it is a question of the Democratic office-holders or the Republican office-seekers controlling the New York State political machine.

A lucid demonstration of machine politics!

The fight in the 17th Senate District, in New York City, is raging on a blitz pattern. The contestants are State Senator Coudert, who seeks re-election on the Republican ticket, and Jerry Finkelstein, on the Democratic and American Labor Party tickets, who wants to get into the State Senate in Coudert’s place.

On the one hand “Citizens for Coudert” have been organized and on the other hand “Allied Voters Against Coudert” have been organized. Already there has been an exodus of “liberals” from the “Allied Voters” and Mayor LaGuardia, who should logically be behind Finkelstein, also comes out for the Republican Coudert.

The New York Times, avowedly of , Democratic Party sympathies, similarly goes out of its way to support the Republican Coudert. While the Stalinist-dominated Greater New York Industrial Council announces that the CIO is getting out “an army of doorbell ringers” to rally the voters behind Finkelstein. And no one cares where the sparks fly.

What is the worker-voter to make of all this?

Obviously he cannot support Senator Coudert – but not only because the Stalinists are calling him a Hitler-Laval agent. The Stalinists, who were themselves Hitler fellow-travelers not long ago, are the quickest to fling that mud at others.

Coudert cannot be supported by a worker because a worker must condemn the hunt for “red” witches that Coudert engaged in on the Rapp-Coudert Committee. Labor will clean its ranks of the Stalinist and all other traitors. But the anti-red activities of the boss government through the Dies and Rapp-Coudert Committees are implicit attacks on labor itself – and must be fought.

On the other hand, a worker cannot support. Finkelstein either. He is obviously an unscrupulous petty politician, able to accommodate himself simultaneously to the requirements of both Tammany Hall and the ALP – while making his main bid for Stalinist support. Quite a triangle!

The “liberals,” LaGuardia and the New York Times are all-out for Coudert because they wish to clip the wings of the Stalinists, who are cashing in on reflected glory. That’s their business. The Stalinists think they can push through to political gains on the back of a politician like Finkelstein – which is nothing new for the Stalinists.

But the thinking worker will see that he can support neither the red-baiting Republican Coudert nor the Tammany Hall-ALP-Stalinist all-rolled-in-one Finkelstein. WHEN A WORKER ARRIVES AT THIS CONCLUSION, HE HAS MADE HIS FIRST IMPORTANT STEP TOWARD INDEPENDENT WORKING CLASS POLITICS.

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