For those who do not remember Adlai Stevenson, this hero of idealism, lived from 1900 -1965. He served as governor of Illinois and Ambassador to the United Nations. In 1952, he was drafted to seek the Presidency in opposition to General Dwight Eisenhower. Again in 1956, the Democratic Party nominated him to run again. These unsuccessful attempts were not losses, because the American people of the 50's heard an idealism that has not been heard since. His campaign speeches attracted much attention and praise for his Call to Greatness. The title of his collection of essays and speeches published between the two elections.
We have missed this wit since the 60's. He was often quoted and admired by many politicians. Many politicians of today would probably not recognize a quote from the eloquence of Adlai. In his acceptance speech of 1952, he said:
"And, my friends even more important than winning the election is governing the nation. That is the test of a political party - the acid, final test. When the tumult and the shouting die, when the bands are gone and the lights are dimmed, there is the stark responsibility in an hour of history haunted with those gaunt, grim specters of strife, dissension, and ruthless, inscrutable, and hostile power aboard."
Let's face it. Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man, war, poverty, and tyranny, and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each.
Let's tell them that the victory to be won in the Twentieth Century, this portal to the golden age, mocks the pretensions of individual acumen and ingenuity. For it is a citadel guarded by thick walls of ignorance and mistrust which do not fall before the trumpets' blast or the politicians' imprecations or even the generals' baton. They are, my friends, walls that must be directly stormed by the hosts of courage, morality, and of vision, standing shoulder to shoulder, unafraid of ugly truth, contemptuous of lies, half-truths, circuses, and demagoguery."
It seems to me that few politicians on the national level have spoken these words and meant them.
Today, the Democratic Party is in turmoil and appears to have no defined direction. The words of Adlai Stevenson more than 50 years ago still ring true and should be the banner that the Democrats unfurl: "They are, my friends, walls that must be directly stormed by the hosts of courage, morality, and of vision, standing shoulder to shoulder, unafraid of ugly truth, contemptuous of lies, half - truths, circuses, and demagoguery."
Democratic candidates who say from their hearts: Let's face it. Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions ... will certainly win elections when their promises are kept and the American people are led to believe that each person makes a difference and the future is only as bright as we make it.