A Suggestion for Dewey

Westbrook Pegler

Tampa Tribune/February 21, 1949

Governor Dewey and other crypto-Democrats who have been seduced from the Republican Party by selfish longings and a want of integrity really ought to raise a demand for a new constitutional convention to remodel the government of the United States.

For 16 years, we have lived in sin under a national government which has no more conformed to the articles and the intention of the Constitution than the human race conforms to the Ten Commandments. There are several old personal opinions in the libraries which cautiously ventured to suggest that we would one day come to approximately this. But the actual process by which we discredited the Constitution without honestly repudiating it was not foreseen, and has not been consciously observed by the present body of citizens. In fact, Dewey, Stassen, the Herald Tribune and its more and more occasional soulmate, the Daily Worker, do not yet realize, or admit that they realize, that we have made a mere wall-motto of the Constitution of the United States. Obviously therefore we should hold a constitutional convention and Dewey should be the one to propose it.

He certainly knows, for example, that the Wagner labor relations act, which he saluted in 1944 as an admirable law, never has been and cannot be administered without sacrifice of either some of the Constitution or some of the act itself. If it is enforced, the Constitution is violated in several ways, all of them important because there are no unimportant constitutional rights. If it is enforced, an employer is forbidden to speak to an employee on certain subjects and had better not speak to him at all lest it be said that he did discuss matters under verboten even if he did not.

In one union dispute in New York, during the reign of Eleanor Herrick, a family protegee of the Roosevelts, an employer got intimations from her bureau that he might be held to have violated Wagner’s law if he even caused the printing and mailing to certain persons of one of my milky pastorals concerning the criminal character of unionism. This moderately captivating female has since become the housemother of the Herald-Tribune and nowadays writes occasional politico-spiritual admonitions in the unspeakable mood of the Gab herself.

If the Wagner act is enforced only in part there again the Constitution is mocked, for it says in the very preamble that one purpose of the people in adopting these rules was to “establish justice.” By justice they meant, and the people since then have understood the Constitution to mean, “equal justice under law.” But equality certainly does not exist when “policy” is substituted for indiscriminate enforcement.

As Dewey knows, “policy” controls and politics pervades the administration of federal justice not only in the federal courts in New Jersey, which are merely more rotten than some others, but everywhere. A few judges still hew to the line, but they may be frustrated in the Supreme Court if it happens that equal justice in a particular case shall offend the bigotries of a majority on a particular day.

Dewey knows that the rent control laws and their enforcement have been a violation of the constitutional rights of the owners of rental properties. He knows that, skipping the fact that conditions were grim when they were adopted, these laws have since been used, and by him, too, to cultivate favor with a large element at the expense of a small element. The mere fact that the situation seemed dangerous when this confiscation of the landlords’ revenues was hit upon to appease the rabble is no justification of rent control.

We elect governments to govern under law. If they are afraid to enforce the law lest crowds of the dispossessed go looting and burning that doesn’t mean that the Constitution is at fault. It means that these elected officials are miscreants who properly should be impeached. It would be just as fair and legal to pass and enforce a law compelling all renters as of now to pay 10 times the rent they are paying. It is no less lawful and constitutional to rob tenants by law than it is to rob landlords. To argue that tenants are any more honest or attractive or that they smell better than landlords is to abandon the Constitution right there because it takes no notice of such qualities or the lack of them.

But the Americans themselves have shown that they do not like the Constitution except as a symbol like the flag. As a diploma it is all right, but in our daily political life we have not lived up to it since Roosevelt tried the experiment in total fascism called the NRA. By the time that had been disallowed by the old Supreme Court in an ironic spat over a sick chicken, the people had developed a desire for unconstitutional government.

We do not live within the Constitution and the time is right to call a convention and argue for a new one, or for the total abandonment of the pretense that we do live within it. Roosevelt never could govern under these restraints and Truman’s fantastic attempt to use for strikebreaking a law passed to raise armies against foreign enemies in war was a true measure of his fitness for the same exacting job.

All things must pass. If the Constitution has been outgrown and the people have learned to despise its restraints, the honest way is to point that out and discuss new methods. The moral fear of those who should make this proposal and the superstition of the people are the strongest guardians the Constitution has today.

(Source: Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/image/327608871/)


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