I happened to notice that C-SPAN was airing some old Democratic National Convention speeches over the weekend ahead of the Democrats' upcoming convention this week, so I set the DVR to record some of them and thought I'd share a portion of President Harry Truman's speech from 1948.
All I can say is sadly when it comes to the Republican party, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There's so much of this speech that also applies directly to today's Republicans, it's really disheartening. Frankly it was a little creepy too after just having caught a portion of the Republicans voting on their recent platform at their convention this year.
Here's the portion from the first clip: HARRY S. TRUMAN: Speech to the Democratic National Convention
Philadelphia, July 15, 1948:
In the field of labor we needed moderate legislation to promote labor-management harmony, but Congress passed instead that so-called Taft-Hartley Act, which has disrupted labor-management relations and will cause strife and bitterness for years to come if it is not repealed, as the Democratic platform says it ought to be repealed.
On the Labor Department, the Republican platform of 1944said, if they were in power, that they would build up a strong Labor Department. They have simply torn it up. Only one bureau is left that is functioning, and they cut the appropriation of that so it can hardly function.
I recommended an increase in the minimum wage. What did I get? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I suggested that the schools in this country are crowded,teachers underpaid, and that there is a shortage of teachers. One of our greatest national needs is more and better schools.
I urged the Congress to provide $300 million to aid the States in the present educational crisis. Congress did nothing about it.Time and again I have recommended improvements in the social security law, including extending protection to those notnow covered, and increasing the amount of benefits, to reduce the eligibility age of women from 65 to 60 years. Congress studied the matter for 2 years, but couldn’t find the time to extend or increase the benefits. But they did find time to take social security benefits away from 750,000 people, and they passed that over my veto.
I have repeatedly asked the Congress to pass a health program. The Nation suffers from lack of medical care. That situation can be remedied any time the Congress wants to act upon it.
Everybody knows that I recommended to the Congress the civil rights program. I did that because I believed it to be my duty under the Constitution. Some of the members of my own party disagree with me violently on this matter. But they standup and do it openly! People can tell where they stand. But the Republicans all professed to be for these measures. But Congress failed to act. They had enough men to do it, they could have had cloture, they didn’t have to have a filibuster. They had enough people in that Congress that would vote for cloture.
Now everybody likes to have low taxes, but we must reduce the national debt in times of prosperity. And when tax relief can be given, it ought to go to those who need it most, and not those who need it least, as this Republican rich man’s tax bill did when they passed it over my veto on the third try. The first one of these was so rotten that they couldn’t even stomach it themselves. They finally did send one that was somewhat improved, but it still helps the rich and sticks a knife into the back of the poor.
Now the Republicans came here a few weeks ago, and they wrote a platform. I hope you have all read that platform. They adopted the platform, and that platform had a lot of promises and statements of what the Republican Party is for, and what they would do if they were in power. They promised to do in that platform a lot of things I have been asking them to do that they have refused to do when they had the power. The Republican platform cries about cruelly high prices. I have been trying to get them to do something about high prices ever since they met the first time.
Now listen! This is equally as bad, and as cynical. The Republican platform comes out for slum clearance and low-rental housing. I have been trying to get them to pass that housing bill ever since they met the first time, and it is still resting in the Rules Committee, that bill.
The Republican platform favors educational opportunity and promotion of education. I have been trying to get Congress to do something about that ever since they came there, and that bill is at rest in the House of Representatives.
The Republican platform is for extending and increasing social security benefits. Think of that! Increasing social security benefits! Yet when they had the opportunity, they took 750,000 off the social security rolls!
I wonder if they think they can fool the people of the United States with such poppycock as that!
There is a long list of these promises in that Republican platform. If it weren’t so late, I would tell you all about them. I have discussed a number of these failures of the Republican 80th Congress. Every one of them is important. Two of them are of major concern to nearly every American family. They failed to do anything about high prices, they failed to do anything about housing.
My duty as President requires that I use every means within my power to get the laws the people need on matters of such importance and urgency.
I am therefore calling this Congress back into session July 26th.
On the 26th day of July, which out in Missouri we call “Turnip Day,” I am going to call Congress back and ask them to pass laws to halt rising prices, to meet the housing crisis— which they are saying they are for in their platform.
At the same time I shall ask them to act upon other vitally needed measures such as aid to education, which they say they are for; a national health program; civil rights legislation, which they say they are for; an increase in the minimum wage, which I doubt very much they are for; extension of the social security coverage and increased benefits, which they say they are for; funds for projects needed in our program to provide public power and cheap electricity. By indirection, this 80th Congress has tried to sabotage the power policies the United States has pursued for 14 years. That power lobby is as bad as the real estate lobby, which is sitting on the housing bill.
I shall ask for adequate and decent laws for displaced persons in place of this anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic law which this 80th Congress passed.
Now, my friends, if there is any reality behind that Republican platform, we ought to get some action from a short session of the 8oth Congress. They can do this job in 15 days, if they want to do it. They will still have time to go out and run for office.
They are going to try to dodge their responsibility. They are going to drag all the red herrings they can across this campaign, but I am here to say that Senator Barkley and I are not going to let them get away with it.
Now, what that worst 80th Congress does in this special session will be the test. The American people will not decide by listening to mere words, or by reading a mere platform. They will decide on the record, the record as it has been written. And in the record is the stark truth, that the battle lines of 1948 are the same as they were in 1932, when the Nation lay prostrate and helpless as a result of Republican misrule and inaction.
In 1932 we were attacking the citadel of special privilege and greed. We were fighting to drive the money changers from the temple. Today, in 1948, we are now the defenders of the stronghold of democracy and of equal opportunity, the haven of the ordinary people of this land and not of the favored classes or the powerful few. The battle cry is just the same now as it was in 1932, and I paraphrase the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt as he issued the challenge, in accepting nomination in Chicago: “This is more than a political call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this new crusade to keep America secure and safe for its own people.”
Now my friends, with the help of God and the wholehearted push which you can put behind this campaign, we can save this country from a continuation of the 80th Congress, and from misrule from now on.
I must have your help. You must get in and push, and win this election. The country can’t afford another Republican Congress.