I feel that we have not tried to interpret the League of Nations to our people in terms of America’s advantage. We Democrats are looked upon as International visionaries because we have not been willing to deal practically with a practical situation.
The League is not anti-national, it is anti-war; its aim is to defer war and reduce the chances of war between nations. This is to be effected, not by creating a super-nation, or by binding us to abide by the decisions of a super-national tribunal, but by establishing the method and machinery by which the opinion of the world may become effective as against those inclined toward war.
By adopting the League, we do not pledge ourselves to any war under any circumstances, without the consent of Congress. And because we have not been willing to say this, we are now in danger of losing the one chance the world has had to get the nations together.
Loyalty to the President’s principles does not mean loyalty to his methods. They have been wrong as to the League, in my opinion. You could deal with Congress, even a Republican Congress, on this matter, I believe, and come out with the essentials. ...
Don’t let Bryan get away from you, if you can help it, because he really represents a great body of moral force and opinion. But don’t pay the price to Bryan or Wilson or Hearst or Murphy or any one else, of being untrue to your own belief as to the wise and practicable national policy, that you may gain their support.
There couldn’t be a better year in which to lose, for something real. You can not win as a Wilson man, nor as a Murphy man, nor as a Hearst man. The nation is crying out for leadership, not pussy-footing nor pandering. Be wrong strongly if you must be wrong, rather than be right weakly. You can only win as a Cox man, one who owns himself, has his own policies, is willing to go along, not with a bunch of bosses, but with any reasonable man, asks for counsel from all classes of men and women, does not fear defeat, and expects a victory that will be more a party victory than a personal one, and more a people’s victory than a partisan one.
Pick a few enemies and pick them with discretion. Chiefly be for things. But be against things and persons, too, so that the nation can visualize you as leading in a contest between the constructive forces and the destructive critical forces.
And the thing to be against is the man who is looking backward, who talks of the “good old days,” meaning (a) money in politics, buying votes in blocks of five; (b) human beings as commodities, Homestead strikes, and instructions how to vote in the pay envelop; (c) privately controlled national finances as against the Federal Reserve System; (d) taxation of the poor through indirect taxes on pretext of protecting industry; (e) seventy-five cent wheat; (f) dollar a day labor; (g) the saloon-bossed city; (h) no American Merchant Marine; all goods carried abroad under foreign flags—those were the “good old days,” for which the Standpat Republican is sighing.