The Brutal Spirit of Power

Westbrook Pegler

Spartanburg Herald/November 3, 1940

New York, Nov. 2—So there came a time in the republic of the United States when the people went to the polls to elect a president, so confused in their emotions that they did not all realize that they were choosing between a leader in the European sense of the title and a constitutional president—between Americanized Nazism and their old Republican form of government.

President Roosevelt, in two terms, had followed the course of European leaders, but with variations so cleverly improved and disguised that many of the people honestly and passionately resented warnings against his course.

As abroad, high party leaders became a semi-sacred group, with special privileges. But so dazzled were the President’s following that when this fact was demonstrated many of them angrily denounced the evidence itself as a disgraceful insult to a great and good man. The man had become more sacred than the office, and two sons of his who had denounced princes of privilege were openly acknowledged to be princes of privilege with special rights derived from their father.

“Graft” was defined in the best dictionary of the time as “acquisition of money, position, etc., by . . . taking advantage of a public office or any position of trust to obtain fees, perquisites, profits on contracts or legislation.”

The party leaders reckoned that the people had been so badly corrupted that they wouldn’t object to graft by the big men of the party. In this belief they teamed up with the most notorious corrupt machines in the country to win New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Chicago. They held the intelligence and decency of the people in such contempt that they even called this alliance with the politico-criminal underworld “the party of humanity.”

In New York the local dictator, named La Guardia, joined forces with a man whom he personally often had denounced as a political corruptioneer. And when an ordinary citizen of Detroit taunted him about it La Guardia physically attacked the citizen, and when the people arrested the citizen, instead of the mayor, it didn’t even occur to the people that this was the wrong way around. That shows how far gone they were.

Again, a few days later in New York, the New Deal’s chief political censor had trouble getting through a crowd and, in the brutal spirit of power which now possessed the President’s personal circle, kicked a negro policeman.

The cops would have locked up any ordinary citizen for this vicious assault on a fellow officer. But the President’s men were now above the law, and La Guardia was commander in chief of the cops. They didn’t dare arrest his fellow party leader.

The presidency went after the labor bosses in the same cunning way that it had rounded up the crooked political machines. The labor machines were greedy, brutal and badly infested with criminals. But the President was spending billions on defense, and he permitted union chiefs so inclined to extort millions from ordinary citizens who wanted to work. To work on national defense a citizen had to buy a temporary work permit for $20, $60 or $80 from union bosses who naturally came out strong for the party because this graft was theirs to steal or spend as they pleased.

The president was not revealing his plans yet; he was waiting until after the election.

(Source: Google News,