The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.
One of my personal political heroes has always been Al Smith. Four term Governor of New York and a devout Catholic, he ran a courageous campaign for President in 1928, speaking out against the racists and bigots in his party, knowing that it would cost him the election. He earned the title: The Happy Warrior. After the election of FDR in 1932, Smith became an outspoken critic of the New Deal. Here is a speech that he gave on January 25, 1936. Most of it could be delivered word for word today. Most of the problems we have in this country regarding the attacks on liberty stem from the creation of a vast Federal government that increasingly resembles what the Founding Fathers revolted against:
BETRAYAL OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY By Alfred E. (Al) Smith
At the outset of my remarks let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a candidate for any nomination by any party at any time, and what is more I do not intend to even lift my right hand to secure any nomination from any party at any time. Further than that I have no axe to grind. There is nothing personal in this whole performance so far as I am concerned. I have no feeling against any man, woman or child in the United States. I was born in the Democratic party and I expect to die in it. And I was attracted to it in my youth because I was led to believe that no man owned it. Further than that, that no group of men owned it, but on the other hand, that it belonged to all the plain people in the United States.
PATRIOTISM ABOVE PARTISANSHIP
It is not easy for me to stand up here tonight and talk to the American people against the Democratic Administration. This is not easy. It hurts me. But I can call upon innumerable witnesses to testify to the fact that during my whole public life I put patriotism above partisanship. And when I see danger, I say danger, that is the “Stop, look, and listen” to the fundamental principles upon which this Government of ours was organized, it is difficult for me to refrain from speaking up.
What are these dangers that I see? The first is the arraignment of class against class. It has been freely predicted that if we were ever to have civil strife again in this country, it would come from the appeal to passion and prejudices that comes from the demagogues that would incite one class of our people against the other.
In my time I have met some good and bad industrialists. I have met some good and bad financiers, but I have also met some good and bad laborers, and this I know, that permanent prosperity is dependent upon both capital and labor alike.
And I also know that there can be no permanent prosperity in this country until industry is able to employ labor, and there certainly can be no permanent recovery upon any governmental theory of “soak the rich” or “soak the poor.” . .
A GOVERNMENT BY BUREAUCRATS
The next thing that I view as being dangerous to our national well-being is government by bureaucracy instead of what we have been taught to look for, government by law.
Just let me quote something from the President’s message to Congress:
“In 34 months we have built up new instruments of public power in the hands of the people’s government. This power is wholesome and proper, but in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy, such power would provide shackles for the liberties of our people.”
Now I interpret that to mean, if you are going to have an autocrat, take me; but be very careful about the other fellow.
There is a complete answer to that, and it rises in the minds of the great rank and file, and that answer is just this: We will never in this country tolerate any laws that provide shackles for our people.
We don’t want any autocrats, either in or out of office. We wouldn’t even take a good one.
The next danger that is apparent to me is the vast building up of new bureaus of government, draining resources of our people in a common pool of redistributing them, not by any process of law, but by the whim of a bureaucratic autocracy.