1934: Republican Party Must Cast Out Its Leaders, Become Liberal

A December 1934 Daily Globe editorial: Republican Leadership

Senator Borah has declared that the republican party, if it wishes to continue its life, must cast out the old leaders and follow new.

He is not the first to have offered that thought to the party. It was urged some time back, but nothing was done about it. When a new chairman was named, he was not new in the sense of bringing new and liberal ideas to the party leadership.

The republican party can become a vital force in national life–or it can die with some rapidity. Events are so timed for the future that either is possible, depending on the course the party itself chooses to follow.

If the republicans decide to cling to the old standards and fight under conservative leadership, they will be without a party in eight years. Never were times more ripe for the ending of a once major party.

The issue today is one of liberalism against radicalism. The conservatives of yesterday are liberals today. Mankind has gone far ahead in the last five years on the way to social thinking. The old ways have been left behind, and the old leaders too are hopelessly out of the scene.

All this would not mean a great deal in the future life of the party under ordinary circumstances. The republican party could, if conditions were different than they are, continue to be the refuge of those who cling to past ways of thinking and acting. But it cannot do so today because there is a strong third-party movement well under way.

The third party, seen in Minnesota as the farmer-labor party, in Wisconsin as the Progressive party and by other names in other states, will come up and be the opponent of the democratic party within a brief time unless the republicans, by adopting fresh and liberal leadership, bring it to an end as other third parties have been ended.

It is impossible to temporize now. The fate of the whigs in 1856 should be a lesson.

There is need in this country for two parties and there is no reason why one should not be liberal and the other conservative–but republican leaders must remember that a conservative can support measures today which were liberal only a few years ago. Failure to do so is to be a reactionary, and to kill the party.

Old leaders either cannot change or cannot win the confidence of the people. There must be a housecleaning and a shift to men of broader views and more liberal tendencies.

This isn’t the first recommendation I’ve read this year for the Republican party to throw out one group or another, but it is the first one I’ve seen that dated from 1934.

This particular Daily Globe editorial recommends the Republican party kick its leaders to the curb, so to speak, and adopt a liberal leadership.

Next post at 9 a.m.