Idealist, Organizer, Executive [Editorials]

Cornell Daily Sun/November 7, 1928

The personal political credos of our senior editorial staff follow, in the order in which the names appear on the masthead.

Idealist, Organizer, Executive

Only a truly exceptional candidate could draw my vote from a man having Herbert Hoover’s qualifications for the presidency of the United States. Combining the qualities of a human idealist and a practical hard-working organizer and executive, he has appealed to me for several years as an outstanding American. But although I had my doubts, I was open to conviction that another man might present himself who by virtue either of his own ability or the more constructive principles that he advocated should appear even better qualified.

I have sought in vain for such evidences either in the person or in the principles of Alfred E. Smith. What at first I had taken for candor and fearlessness in the last three months has become more and more obviously the desperate barking of the underdog. I dislike him on immigration; I distrust him on foreign policy and public utilities. He has made immoderate promises on Prohibition with certain knowledge that he would not be called upon to fulfill them. He has denied obvious prosperity.

Alfred E. Smith is a dynamic politician; Herbert Hoover a cultured engineer. The one has conducted a noisy political campaign; the other a campaign consistent with the dignity of the office which he seeks. I can see but one possible answer.

More or Less on Campaigns

When a voter said that he preferred Smith to Hoover because the latter took no firm stand on the “vital” issues of the election, because he did not flatly say that Prohibition was a god-inspired step toward the millennium, or that farm relief was forever beyond the scope of legislative panaceas, and so ad infinitum, I think that the worthy citizen was taking his political campaign with too few grains of salt. Never yet has a campaign completely told the electorate how a candidate feels on the issues of passing importance, or to become more pertinent, what he intends to do, or can do about them. The past record of the candidate is the sensible criterion to go by when judging a man’s qualifications for  political office, not the statements, accusations and refutations issued in the heat of a speaking tour.

Herbert Hoover’s war record alone showed him to be an executive as efficient as may be found in business today, to say nothing of politics. Although Alfred E. Smith has made New York an excellent governor and has spent money for useful purposes, he has been extravagant in floating public bond issues. I do not think he is fitted temperament, or in breadth of diplomatic experience to hold the presidential office as the people of the nation would wish.

Less Harmful

I would have voted for Herbert Hoover, not because I consider the Republican party platform correct, or its candidate the best choice, but because I agree less with the Democratic platform and its candidate. A Republican administration under Hoover, I think, will be less harmful than a Democratic administration under Smith.

On the basis of the party platforms there is little difference between the parties that they can hardly be taen as criterions. The thing I do like about the Republicans is their firm stand on Prohibition compared to the evident differences of opinion between the platform and the candidate of the Democratic party. That there is obvious prosperity is to be doubted. It seems that what we see is the workings of the installment plan.

The personal qualifications of the candidate beeing what they are, there is little doubt in my mind that Hoover is better suited to the office. He has consistently refused to make a campaign out of material unsuited to campaigning, and has not lowered himself by promises to “the peepul” which he obviously cannot fulfill.

Pseudo-Liberals and Norman Thomas

Having with praiseworthy caution delayed this expression of opinion until it had become physically impossible to influence anyone’s vote, even if that were possible, we may not boldly step forth and proclaim the reasons and prejudices which have led a gullible reader of The Nation to support Norman Thomas.

Strange as it may seem, this writer does not believe . . . freedom in this country is to entrust our government to the predatory hands of big business. Political scepticism, if nothing else, ought to compel us to discard glip promises of perpetual prosperity, and cast-iron guarantees that the swollen profits of our large corporations will trickle down to the masses. As a progressive, my support is for a progressive, but no one has accused Hoover of liberal ideas, while Smith despite his clear superiority over Hoover can offer the genuine progressive only sops and palliatives.

Every progressive vote for Smith is a vote wasted. Every vote for Smith helps to perpetuate a two-party system. Ever vote for Thomas is a vote for a third party, a party that will keep business out of the government. A large vote for Thomas and the Socialist Party will do more to chasten the other two parties and to induce the passing of progressive legislation than the election of ten pseudo-liberals.

A Liberal Leader

In this campaign we have two men, both with high reputations, competing for the office of chief executive of this nation. Herbert Hoover is a capable engineer who would give us a smoothly functioning government—but the nation needs more. Further, only intuitive faith in his twenty-one honorary degrees leads us to believe this much of him, so pusillanimous and politically unintelligent has been his campaign. Governor Smith may not have a broad grasp of international affairs, he may be just as wrong on the tariff or farm relief as Mr. Hoover, but he is the one man in America who can restore to us our democracy. He is a leader who can interest the people in their government. He understands the practice of government no less than its principles, he stands for progressive legislation, he faces facts. With both men hampered by party platforms and meaningless issues, that is all we can demand of a presidential candidate. He has earned the presidency.

The qualifications of the men aside, we have another reason for voting for the Democratic candidate. If parties mean anything, they must be held responsible for their misdeeds. The Republican administration has been marked by corruption, incompetence in foreign affairs, lack of achievement masquerading under economy at home. We need a change, and Al Smith will give us it.

A Comparison

I have favored Mr. Hoover because he is a Republican, because I am convinced he is omnicompetent, and the possessor of a mind trained in the handling of international affairs, because I believe the only issue is the continuance of the present state of prosperity which we now enjoy, because just as much as Mr. Smith, he rose from the ranks by his own effort, and because he does not boast unseemly about the fact, because during the late campaign, although he had plenty of mud and dirt to sling, he refused to lower himself to do so, because he is of presidential timber, and I feel convinced he is the type of man best fitted for presidential office. I refuse to be misled by Smith’s personality or the charges of religious intolerance and corruption, none of which are issues. In regard to the last, I feel that an equal amount of it exists in both parties.

Governor Smith, in my opinion, is not omnicompetent, is a man of limited, not international feeling, does not necessarily insure the continuance of prosperity, stoops to dirt slinging, and, all in all, is not a man of presidential timber. The methods employed by each party in the late campaign have, to me, justified my choice. On the one hand we find a refined attempt to convince the people that Mr. Hoover is a man of presidential qualifications; and on the other we see the attempt to bulldoze the nation into the election of a candidate on the obscure grounds of corruption, religiou