|The American Presidency Project|
|• Democratic Party Platforms|
|1956 Democratic Party Platform|
|August 13, 1956|
In the brief space of three and one-haft years, the people of the United States have come to realize, with tragic consequences, that our National Government cannot be trusted to the hands of political amateurs, dominated by representatives of special privilege.
Four years ago they were beguiled, by empty promises and pledges, to elect as President a recent convert to Republicanism. Our people have now learned that the party of Lincoln has been made captive to big businessmen with small minds. They have found that they are now ruled by a Government which they did not elect, and to which they have not given their consent. Their awareness of this fact was demonstrated in 1954 when they returned control of the legislative machinery of the Federal Government to the 84th Democratic Congress.
From the wreckage of American world leadership under a Republican Administration, this great Democratic Congress has salvaged a portion of the world prestige our Nation enjoyed under the brilliant Administrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.
Our Democratic 84th Congress made one of the greatest legislative records in the history of our country. It enacted an active program of progressive, humane legislation, which has repudiated the efforts of reactionary Republicanism to stall America's progress. When we return to the halls of Congress next January, and with a Democratic President in the White House, it will be the plan and purpose of our Party to complete restoration and rehabilitation of American leadership in world affairs. We pledge return of our National Government to its rightful owners, the people of the United States.
On the threshold of an atomic age, in mid-Twentieth Century, our beloved Nation needs the vision, vigor and vitality which can be infused into it only by a government under the Democratic Party.
We approach the forthcoming election with a firm purpose of effecting such infusion; and with the help and assistance of Divine Providence we shall endeavor to accomplish it. To the end that the people it has served so well may know our program for the return of America to the highway of progress, the Democratic Party herewith submits its platform for 1956.
I. Foreign Policy and National Defense
The Democratic Party affirms that world peace is a primary objective of human society. Peace is more than a suspension of shooting while frenzied and fearful nations stockpile armaments of annihilation.
Achievement of world peace requires political statesmanship and economic wisdom, international understanding and dynamic leadership. True peace is the tranquillity of ordered justice on a global scale. It may be destroyed without a shot being fired. It can be fostered and preserved only by the solid unity and common brotherhood of the peoples of the world in the cause of freedom.
The hopes and aspirations of the peoples of all nations for justice and peace depend largely upon the courageous and enlightened administration of the foreign and defense policies of the United States. We deplore the fact that the administration of both policies since 1953 has confused timidity with courage, and blindness with enlightenment.
The Republican Record of Confusion and Complacency Is the President's Responsibility.
The world's hopes for lasting peace depend upon the conduct of our foreign policy, a function which the Constitution vests in the President of the United States and one which has not been effectively exercised by President Eisenhower. Since 1953, responsibility for foreign affairs has been President Eisenhower's, his alone, and his in full.
In the past three years, his conduct of our policies has moved us into realms where we risk grave danger. He has failed to seek peace with determination, for his disarmament policy has failed to strike hard at the institution of war. His handling of the day-by-day problems of international affairs has unnecessarily and dangerously subjected the American people to the risk of atomic world war.
Our Government Lacks Leadership.
We need bold leadership, yet in the three years since Stalin's death, in the full year since President
Eisenhower's meeting at the "summit," the Republican Administration has not offered a single concrete new idea to meet the new-style political and economic offensive of the Soviets, which represents, potentially, an even graver challenge than Stalin's use of force. President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State talk at cross-purposes, praising neutralism one day, condemning it the next. The Republicans seem unable either to make up their minds or to give us leadership, while the unity of the free world rapidly disintegrates.
We in America need to make our peaceful purpose clear beyond dispute in every corner of the world—yet Secretary Dulles brags of "brinks of war." We need a foreign policy which rises above jockeying for partisan position or advantage—yet, not in memory has there been so little bipartisanship in the administration of our policies, so little candor in their Presentation to our people, so much pretending that things are better than they are.
The Republican Bluster and Bluff.
Four years ago the Republican Party boasted of being able to produce a foreign policy which was to free the Communist satellites, unleash Chiang Kai-shek, repudiate the wartime agreements, and reverse the policy of containing Communist expansion.
Since 1953 they have done just the opposite, standing silent when the peoples rise in East Germany and Poland, and thereby weakening the positive Democratic policy of halting Communist expansion.
Our Friends Lose Faith In Us.
Our friends abroad now doubt our sincerity. They have seen the solid assurance of collective security under a Democratic Administration give place to the uncertainties of personal diplomacy. They have seen the ties of our international alliances and friendship weakened by inept Republican maneuvering.
They have seen traditional action and boldness in foreign affairs evaporate into Republican complacency, retrenchment and empty posturing.
The Failure Abroad.
Blustering without dynamic action will not alter the fact that the unity and strength of the free world have been drastically impaired. Witness the decline of NATO, the bitter tragedy of Cyprus, the withdrawal of French forces to North Africa, the uncertainty and dangers in the Middle East, an uncertain and insecure Germany, and resentment rising against United States leadership everywhere.
In Asia—in Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia, India—anti-Americanism grows apace, aggravated by the clumsy actions of our Government, and fanned by the inept utterances of our "statesmen."
In the Middle East, the Eisenhower Administration has dawdled and drifted. The results have been disastrous, and worse threatens. Only the good offices of the United Nations in maintaining peace between Israel and her neighbors conceal the diplomatic incapacities of the Republican Administration. The current crisis over Suez is a consequence of inept and vacillating Republican policy. Our Government's mistakes have placed us in a position in the Middle East which threatens the free world with a loss of power and prestige, potentially more dangerous than any we have suffered in the past decade.
The Failure at Home.
Political considerations of budget balancing and tax reduction now come before the wants of our national security and the needs of our Allies. The Republicans have slashed our own armed strength, weakened our capacity to deal with military threats, stifled our air force, starved our army and weakened our capacity to deal with aggression of any sort save by retreat or by the alternatives, "massive retaliation" and global atomic war. Yet, while our troubles mount, they tell us our prestige was never higher, they tell us we were never more secure.
The Challenge Is For Democracy to Meet.
The Democratic Party believes that "waging peace" is a monumental task to be performed honestly, forthrightly, with dedication and consistent effort.
The way to lasting peace is to forego bluster and bluff, to regain steadiness of purpose, to join again in faithful concert with the community of free nations, to look realistically at the challenging circumstances which confront us, to face them candidly and imaginatively, and to return to the Democratic policy of peace through strength.
This is a task for Democrats. This facing of new problems, this rising to new challenges, has been our Party's mission and its glory for three generations past. President Truman met and mastered Stalin's challenge a decade ago, with boldness, courage and imagination, and so will we turn to the challenge before us now, pressing the search for real and lasting peace. TO THIS WE PLEDGE:
Support for the United Nations.
The United Nations is indispensable for the maintenance of world peace and for the settlement of controversies between nations small and large. We pledge our every effort to strengthen its usefulness and expand its role as guide and guardian of international security and peace. We deplore the Republicans' tendency to use the United Nations only when it suits them, ignoring or by passing it whenever they please.
We pledge determined opposition to the admission of the Communist Chinese into the United Nations. They have proven their complete hostility to the purposes of this organization. We pledge continued support to Nationalist China.
Release of American Prisoners.
We urge a continuing effort to effect the release of all Americans detained by Communist China.
Support for Effective Disarmament.
In this atomic age, war threatens the very survival of civilization. To eliminate the danger of atomic war, a universal, effective and enforced disarmament system must be the goal of responsible men and women everywhere. So long as we lack enforceable international control of weapons, we must maintain armed strength to avoid war. But technological advances in the field of nuclear weapons make disarmament an ever more urgent problem. Time and distance can never again protect any nation of the world. The Eisenhower Administration, despite its highly publicized proposals for aerial inspection, has made no progress toward this great objective. We pledge the Democratic Party to pursue vigorously this great goal of enforced disarmament in full awareness that irreparable injury, even total destruction, now threatens the human race.
Adequate Defense Forces.
We reject the false Republican notion that this country can afford only a second-best defense. We stand for strong defense forces so clearly superior in modern weapons to those of any possible enemy that our armed strength will make an attack upon the free world unthinkable, and thus be a major force for world peace. The Republican Administration stands indicted for failing to recognize the necessity of proper living standards for the men and women of our armed forces and their families. We pledge ourselves to the betterment of the living conditions of the members of our armed services, and to a needed increase in the so-called "fringe benefits."
Training for Defense.
The Democratic Party pledges itself to a bold and imaginative program devised to utilize fully the brain power of America's youth, including its talent in the scientific and technical fields.
Scholarships and loan assistance and such other steps as may be determined desirable must be employed to secure this objective. This is solely in the interest of necessary and adequate national defense.
Strengthening Civil Defense.
We believe that a strong, effective civil defense is a necessary part of national defense. Advances in nuclear weapons have made existing civil defense legislation and practices obsolete.
We pledge ourselves to establish a real program for protecting the civilian population and industry of our Nation in place of the present weak and ineffective program. We believe that this is essentially a Federal responsibility.
Collective Security Arrangements.
The Democratic Party inaugurated and we strongly favor collective defense arrangements, such as NATO and the Organization of American States, within the framework of the United Nations. We realize, as the Republicans have not, that mutually recognized common interests can be flexibly adapted to the varied needs and aspirations of all countries concerned.
Winning the Productivity Race.
The Republican Party has not grasped one of the dominant facts of mid-century—that the growth of productive power of the Communist states presents a challenge which cannot be evaded. The Democratic Party is confident that, through the freedom we enjoy, a vast increase in productive power of our Nation and our Allies will be achieved, and by their combined capacity they will surmount any challenge.
Economic Development Abroad.
We believe that, in the cause of peace, America must support the efforts of underdeveloped countries on a cooperative basis to organize their own resources and to increase their own economic productivity, so that they may enjoy the higher living standards which science and modern industry make possible. We will give renewed strength to programs of economic and technical assistance. We support a multilateral approach to these programs, where-ever possible, so that burdens are shared and resources pooled among all the economically developed countries with the capital and skills to help in this great task.
Further, while recognizing the relation of our national security to the role of the United States in international affairs, the Democratic Party believes the time has come for a realistic reappraisal of the American foreign aid program, particularly as to its extent and the conditions under which it should be continued. This reappraisal will determine the standards by which further aid shall be granted, keeping in mind America's prime objective of securing world peace.
Bringing the Truth to the World.
The tools of truth and candor are even more important than economic tools. The Democratic Party believes that once our Government is purged of the confusion and complacency fostered by the Republican Administration a new image of America will emerge in the world: the image of a confident America dedicated to its traditional principles, eager to work with other peoples, honest in its pronouncements, and consistent in its policies.
Freedom for Captive Nations.
We condemn the Republican Administration for its heartless record of broken promises to the unfortunate victims of Communism. Candidate Eisenhower's 1952 pledges to "liberate" the captive peoples have been disavowed and dishonored.
We declare our deepest concern for the plight of the freedom-loving peoples of Central and Eastern Europe and of Asia, now under the yoke of Soviet dictatorship. The United States, under Democratic leaders, has never recognized the forcible annexation of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, or condoned the extension of the Kremlin's tyranny over Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania and other countries.
We look forward to the day when the liberties of all captive nations will be restored to them and they can again take their rightful place in the community of free nations.
We shall press before the United Nations the principle that Soviet Russia withdraw its troops from the captive countries, so as to permit free, fair and unfettered elections in the subjugated areas, in compliance with the Atlantic Charter and other binding commitments.
Upholding the Principle of Self-Determination.
We rededicate ourselves to the high principle of national self-determination, as enunciated by Woodrow Wilson, whose leadership brought freedom and independence to uncounted millions.
It is the policy of the Democratic Party, therefore, to encourage and assist small nations and all peoples, behind the Iron Curtain and outside, in the peaceful and orderly achievement of their legitimate aspirations toward political, geographical, and ethnic integrity, so that they may dwell in the family of sovereign nations with freedom and dignity. We are opposed to colonialism and Communist imperialism.
We shall endeavor to apply this principle to the desires of all peoples for self-determination.
Reciprocal Trade Among the Nations.
The Democratic Party has always worked for expanding trade among free nations. Expanding world trade is necessary not only for our friends, but for ourselves; it is the way to meet America's growing need for industrial raw materials. We shall continue to support vigorously the Hull Reciprocal Trade Program.
Under Democratic Administrations, the operation of this Act was conducted in a manner that recognized equities for agriculture, industry and labor. Under the present Republican Administration, there has been a most flagrant disregard of these important segments of our economy resulting in serious economic injury to hundreds of thousands of Americans engaged in these pursuits. We pledge correction of these conditions.
Encouraging European Unity.
Through the Marshall Plan, the European Economic Organization and NATO, the Democratic Party encouraged and supported efforts to achieve greater economic and political unity among the free nations of Europe, and to increase the solidarity of the nations of the North Atlantic community. We will continue those efforts, taking into account the viewpoints and aspirations of different sectors of the European community, particularly in regard to practical proposals for the unification of Germany.
Peace and Justice in the Middle East.
The Democratic Party stands for the maintenance of peace in the Middle East, which is essential to the well-being and progress of all its peoples.
We will urge Israel and the Arab States to settle their differences by peaceful means, and to maintain the sanctity of the Holy Places in the Holy Land and permit free access to them.
We will assist Israel to build a sound and viable economy for her people, so that she may fulfill her humanitarian mission of providing shelter and sanctuary for her homeless Jewish refugees while strengthening her national development.
We will assist the Arab States to develop their economic resources and raise the living standards of their people. The plight of the Arab refugees commands our continuing sympathy and concern. We will assist in carrying out large-scale projects for their resettlement in countries where there is room and opportunity for them.
We support the principle of free access to the Suez Canal under suitable international auspices. The present policies of the Eisenhower Administration in the Middle East are unnecessarily increasing the risk that war will break out in this area. To prevent war, to assure peace, we will faithfully carry out our country's pledge under the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 to oppose the use or threat of force and to take such action as may be necessary in the interest of peace, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent any violation of the frontiers of any armistice lines.
The Democratic Party will act to redress the dangerous imbalance of arms in the area resulting from the shipment of Communist arms to Egypt, by selling or supplying defensive weapons to Israel, and will take such steps, including security guarantees, as may be required to deter aggression and war in the area.
We oppose, as contrary to American principles, the practice of any government which discriminates against American citizens on grounds of race or religion. We will not countenance any arrangement or treaty with any government which by its terms or in its practical application would sanction such practices.
Support for Free Asia.
The people of Asia seek a new and freer life and they are in a commendable hurry to get it. They struggle against poverty, ill health and illiteracy. In the aftermath of war, China became a victim of Communist tyranny. But many new free nations have arisen in South and Southeast Asia. South Korea remains free, and the new Japan has abandoned her former imperial and aggressive ways. America's task and interest in Asia is to help the governments of free peoples demonstrate that they have improved living standards without yielding to Communist tyranny or domination by anyone. That task will be carried out under Democratic leadership.
Support of Our Good Neighbors to the South.
In the Western Hemisphere the Democratic Party will restore the policy of the "good neighbor" which has been alternately neglected and abused by the Republican Administration. We pledge ourselves to fortify the defenses of the Americas. In this respect, we will intensify our cooperation with our neighboring republics to help them strengthen their economies, improve educational opportunities, and combat disease. We will strive to make the Western Hemisphere an inspiring example of what free peoples working together can accomplish.
Progressive Immigration Policies.
America's long tradition of hospitality and asylum for those seeking freedom, opportunity, and escape from oppression, has been besmirched by the delays, failures and broken promises of the Republican Administration. The Democratic Party favors prompt revision of the immigration and nationality laws to eliminate unfair provisions under which admissions to this country depend upon quotas based upon the accident of national origin. Proper safeguards against subversive elements should be provided. Our immigration procedures must reflect the principles of our Bill of Rights.
We favor eliminating the provisions of law which charge displaced persons admitted to our shores against quotas for future years. Through such "mortgages" of future quotas, thousands of qualified persons are being forced to wait long years before they can hope for admission.
We also favor more liberal admission of relatives to eliminate the unnecessary tragedies of broken families.
We favor elimination of unnecessary distinctions between native-born and naturalized citizens. There should be no "second class" citizenship in the United States.
The administration of the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 has been a disgrace to our country. Rescue has been denied to innocent, defenseless and suffering people, the victims of war and the aftermath of wars. The purpose of the Act has been defeated by Republican mismanagement.
Victims of Communist Oppression.
We will continue to support programs providing succor for escapees from behind the Iron Curtain, and bringing help to the victims of war and Communist oppression.
The Challenge of the Next Four Years.
Today new challenges call for new ideas and new methods.
In the coming years, our great necessity will be to pull together as a people, with true non-partisanship in foreign affairs under leaders informed, courageous and responsible.
We shall need to work closely with each other as Americans. If we here indict the Republican record, we acknowledge gratefully the efforts of individual Republicans to achieve true bipartisan-ship. In this spirit an affirmative, cooperative policy can be developed. We shall need to work closely, also, with others all around the world. For there is much to do—to create once more the will and the power to transform the principles of the United Nations into a living reality; to awaken ourselves and others to the effort and sacrifice which alone can win justice and peace.
II. the Domestic Policy—the Republican Reaction to 20 Years of Progress
The Democratic Bequest.
Twenty years of vivid Democratic accomplishments revived and reinforced our economic system, and wrote humanity upon the statute books. All this, the current Republican Administration inherited.
The Republican Brand of Prosperity.
Substituting deceptive slogans and dismal deeds for the Democratic program, the Republicans have been telling the American people that "we are now more prosperous than ever before in peacetime." For the American farmer, the small businessman and the low-income worker, the old people living on a pittance, the young people seeking an American standard of education, and the minority groups seeking full employment opportunity at adequate wages, this tall tale of Republican prosperity has been an illusion.
The evil is slowly but surely infiltrating the entire economic system. Its fever signs are evidenced by soaring monopoly profits, while wages lag, farm income collapses, and small-business failures multiply at an alarming rate.
The first time-bomb of the Republican crusade against full prosperity for all was the hard-money policy. This has increased the debt burden on depressed farms, saddled heavier costs on small business, foisted higher interest charges on millions of homeowners (including veterans), pushed up unnecessarily the cost of consumer credit, and swelled the inordinate profits of a few lenders of money. It has wrought havoc with the bond market, with resulting financial loss to the ordinary owners of Government bonds.
The Republican tax policy has joined hands in an unholy alliance with the hard-money policy. Fantastic misrepresentation of the Government's budgetary position has been used to deny tax relief to low- and middle-income families, while tax concessions and handouts have been generously sprinkled among potential campaign contributors to Republican coffers. The disastrously reactionary farm program, the hardhearted resistance to adequate expansion of Social Security and other programs for human well-being, and favoritism in the award of Government contracts, all have watered the economic tree at the top and neglected its roots.
The Stunting of Our Economic Progress.
The Republicans say that employment and production are "higher" than ever before. The fact is that our over-all rate of growth has been crippled and stunted in contrast to its faster increase during the Democratic years from 1947 to 1953, after World War II.
With production lagging behind full capacity, unemployment has grown.
The Republican claim that this stunted prosperity is the price of peace is a distortion. National-security outlays have averaged a higher part of our total production during these Republican years than during 1947-53, and yet the annual growth in total production during these Republican years has been only about 60 percent as fast as in the preceding Democratic years. The progress of low-income families toward an American standard of living, rapid during the Democratic years, has ground to a stop under the Republicans.
Federal budgetary outlays for education and health, old-age assistance and child care, slum clearance and resource development, and all the other great needs of our people have been mercilessly slashed from an annual rate of more than $57 per capita under the Democrats to $33 per capita under the Republicans, a cut of 42 percent.
The Failure of the Republican Budget-Balancers.
During the Republican fiscal years 1954-1957 as a whole, the deficits have averaged larger, and the surpluses smaller, than during the Democratic fiscal years 1947-1953, financial manipulation to the contrary notwithstanding.
Democratic Principles for Full Prosperity for All:
(1) We repudiate the Republican stunting of our economic growth, and we reassert the principles of the Full Employment Act of 1946;
(2) We pledge ourselves to achieve an honest and realistic balance of the Federal Budget in a just and fully prosperous American economy;
(3) We pledge ourselves to equitable tax revisions and monetary policies designed to combine economic progress with economic justice. We condemn the Republican use of our revenue and money systems to benefit the few at the expense of the vast majority of our people;
(4) We pledge ourselves to work toward the reduction and elimination of poverty in America;
(5) We pledge ourselves to full parity of income and living standards for agriculture; to strike off the shackles which the Taft-Hartley law has unjustly imposed on labor; and to foster the more rapid growth of legitimate business enterprise by rounding this growth upon the expanding consuming power of the people; and
(6) We pledge ourselves to expand world trade and to enlarge international economic cooperation, all toward the end of a more prosperous and more peaceful world.
Democratic Goals To Be Achieved During Four Years of Progress.
By adhering to these principles, we shall strive to attain by 1960 the following full prosperity objectives for all American families:
(1) A 500 billion dollar national economy in real terms;
(2) An increase of 20 percent or better in the average standard of living;
(3) An increase in the annual income of American families, with special emphasis on those whose incomes are below $2000;
(4) A determined drive toward parity of incomes and living standards for those engaged in the vital pursuit of agriculture;
(5) The addition of all necessary classrooms for our primary and secondary schools; the construction of needed new homes, with a proper proportion devoted to the rehousing of low- and middle-income families in urban and rural areas; the increase of benefits under the Old Age Assistance and Old Age Survivors Insurance Programs; a substantial expansion in hospital facilities and medical research; and a doubling of our programs for resource development and conservation; and
(6) National defense outlays based upon our national needs, not permitting false economy to jeopardize our very survival.
This country of ours, in the factory, in business and on the farm, is blessed with ever-increasing productive power. The Republicans have not permitted this potential abundance to be released for the mutual benefit of all. We reject this stunted Republican concept of America. We pledge ourselves to release the springs of abundance, to bring this abundance to all, and thus to fulfill the full promise of America.
These are our Democratic goals for the next four years. We set them forth in vivid contrast to Republican lip-service protestations that they, too, are for these goals. Their little deeds belie their large and hollow slogans. Our performance in the past gives validity to our goals for the future.
Our victory in 1956 will make way for the commencement of these four years of progress.
III. Free Enterprise
"Equal rights for all and special privileges for none," the tested Jeffersonian principle, remains today the only philosophy by which human rights can be preserved by government.
It is a sad fact in the history of the Republican Party that, under its control, our Government has always become an instrument of special privilege; not a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We have had, instead, under Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, and now under Eisenhower, government of the many, by the few, and for the few.
We recognize monopolies and monopolistic practices as the real barriers between the people and their economic and political freedom. Monopolies act to stifle equality of opportunity and prevent the infusion of fresh blood into the life-stream of our economy. The Republican Administration has allowed giant corporate entities to dominate our economy. For example, forty thousand automobile dealers now know they were incapable of coping with these giants. They were, as the Democratic 84th Congress found, subjected to abuse and threatened with extinction. The result was passage of the O'Mahoney-Celler bill giving the automobile dealers of America economic freedom. We enacted this law, and we pledge that it shall be retained upon the statute books as a monument to the Democratic Party's concern for small business.
We pledge ourselves to the restoration of truly competitive conditions in American industry. Affirmative action within the framework of
American tradition will be taken to curb corporate mergers that would contribute to the growth of economic concentration.
Small and Independent Business.
In contrast to the maladministration by the Republican Party of the Federal program to assist small and independent business, we pledge ourselves—
(1) To the strict and impartial enforcement of the laws originally fostered and strengthened by the Democratic Party and designed to prevent monopolies and other concentrations of economic and financial power; and to enact legislation to close loopholes in the laws prohibiting price discrimination;
(2) To tax relief for all small and independent businesses by fair and equitable adjustments in Federal taxation which will encourage business expansion, and to the realistic application of the principle of graduated taxation to such corporate income. An option should be provided to spread Federal estate taxes over a period of years when an estate consists principally of the equity capital of a closely held small business;
(3) To adoption of all practical means of making long- and short-term credit available to small and independent businessmen at reasonable rates;
(4) To the award of a substantially higher proportion of Government contracts to independent small businesses, and to the award of a far larger percentage of military procurement, by value, after competitive bids rather than by negotiation behind closed doors. We severely condemn Republican discrimination against small and independent business;
(5) To replacement of the weak and ineffective Republican conduct of the Small Business Administration, and its reconstitution as a vigorous, independent agency which will advocate the cause of small and independent businessmen, and render genuine assistance in fulfilling their needs and solving their problems. We condemn the Republican Administration for its failure to serve this important segment of our economy.
We pledge ourselves to the fair and impartial administration of justice. The Republican Administration has degraded the great powers of law enforcement. It has not used them in the service of equal justice under law, but for concealment, coercion, persecution, political advantage and special interests.
In the interest of our national security, and of the maintenance of American standards of wages and living, and in order that our waterborne overseas commerce shall not be unfairly discriminated against by low-cost foreign competition, we pledge our continued encouragement and support of a strong and adequate American Merchant Marine.
The public and national defense interests require the development and maintenance, under the competitive free enterprise system, of a strong, efficient and financially sound system of common-carrier transportation by water, highway, rail, and air, with each mode enabled, through sound and intelligent exercise of regulatory powers, to realize its inherent economic advantages and to reflect its full competitive capabilities. Public interest also requires, under reasonable standards, the admission of new licensees, where public convenience may be served, into the transport fields. We deplore the lack of enforcement of safety regulations for protection of life and property under the present Republican Administration, and pledge strict enforcement of such regulations.
We commend the foresight of the Democratic 84th Congress for its enactment of the greatest program in history for expansion of our highway network, and we congratulate it upon its rejection of the unsound, unworkable, inadequate and unfair roads bill proposed by the present Republican Administration. In cooperation with state and local governments, we will continue the programs developed and fostered under prior Democratic Administrations for planning, coordinating, financing and encouraging the expansion of our national road and highway network so vital to defense and transportation in the motor age. We support expansion of farm-to-market roads.
Rivers and Harbors.
We pledge continued development of harbors and waterways as a vital segment of our transportation system. We denounce as capricious and arbitrary the Eisenhower pocket veto of the 1956 Rivers and Harbors bill, which heartlessly deprived the people in many sections of our country of vitally needed public works projects.
IV. A Magna Charta for Labor
Harmonious labor-management relations are productive of good incomes for wage earners and conducive to rising output from our factories. We believe that, to the widest possible extent consistent with the public interest, management and labor should determine wage rates and conditions of employment through free collective bargaining.
The Taft-Hartley Act passed by the Republican-dominated 80th Congress seriously impaired this relationship as established in the Wagner National Labor Relations Act, enacted under the Roosevelt Administration. The Wagner Act protected, encouraged and guaranteed the rights of workers to organize, to join unions of their own choice, and to bargain collectively through these unions without coercion.
The vicious anti-union character of the Taft-Hartley Act was expressly recognized by Candidate Eisenhower during the 1952 election campaign.
At that time, he made a solemn promise to eliminate its unjust provisions and to enact a fair law. President Eisenhower and his Administration have failed utterly, however, to display any executive initiative or forcefulness toward keeping this pledge to the workers. He was further responsible for administratively amending Taft-Hartley into a more intensely anti-labor weapon by stacking the National Labor Relations Board with biased pro-management personnel who, by administrative decision, transformed the Act into a management weapon. One such decision removed millions of workers from the jurisdiction of the NLRB, which in many cases left them without protection of either State or Federal legislation.
We unequivocally advocate repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. The Act must be repealed because State "right-to-work" laws have their genesis in its discriminatory anti-labor provisions.
It must be repealed because its restrictive provisions deny the principle that national legislation based on the commerce clause of the Constitution normally overrides conflicting State laws.
The Taft-Hartley Act has been proven to be inadequate, unworkable and unfair. It interferes in an arbitrary manner with collective bargaining, causing imbalance in the relationship between management and labor.
Upon return of our National Government to the Democratic Party, a new legislative approach toward the entire labor-management problem will be adopted, based on past experience and the principles of the Wagner National Labor Relations Act and the Norris-La Guardia Anti-Injunction Law.
Fair Labor Standards.
We commend the action of the Democratic 84th Congress which raised the minimum wage from 75 cents to $1.00 an hour despite the strenuous objection of President Eisenhower and the Republicans in Congress. However, the inadequacies of the minimum wage become apparent as the cost of living increases, and we feel it imperative to raise the minimum wage to at least $1.25 an hour, in order to approximate present-day needs more closely.
We further pledge as a matter of priority to extend full protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act to all workers in industry engaged in, or affecting, interstate commerce.
Walsh-Healey Contracts Act.
We pledge revision and honest administration of the Walsh-Healey Act, to restore its effectiveness and usefulness as an instrument for maintaining fair standards of wages and hours for American workers.
Equal Pay for Equal Work.
We advocate legislation to provide equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.
The Physically Handicapped.
The Democratic Party has always supported legislation to benefit the disabled worker. The physically handicapped have proved their value to Government and industry. We pledge our continued support of legislation to improve employment opportunities of physically handicapped persons.
We shall support legislation providing for the protection and improvement of the general welfare of migratory workers.
Jobs for Depressed Areas.
We pledge our Party to support legislation providing for an effective program to promote industry and create jobs in depressed industrial and rural areas so that such areas may be restored to economic stability.
Sustained national prosperity is dependent upon a vigorous agricultural economy.
We condemn the defeatist attitude of the Eisenhower Administration in refusing to take effective action to assure the well-being of farm families. We condemn its fear of abundance, its lack of initiative in developing domestic markets, and its dismal failure to obtain for the American farmer his traditional and deserved share of the world market. Its extravagant expenditure of money intended for agricultural benefit, without either direction or results, is a national calamity.
The Eisenhower Administration has failed utterly to develop any programs to meet the desperate needs of farmers in the face of fantastic promises, and it has sabotaged the progressive programs inherited from prior Democratic Administrations by failing to administer them properly in the interest either of farmers or of the Nation as a whole.
Specifically, we denounce President Eisenhower's veto of the constructive legislation proposed and passed by the Democratic 84th Congress to reverse the alarming fall of farm prices and restore farmers to a position of first-class economic citizenship in the sharing of benefits from American productive ability.
We also condemn the Republican Administration for its abandonment of the true principles of soil conservation and for its destruction of the Soil Conservation Service. We pledge to support continued improvements in the soil bank program passed by the Democratic 84th Congress and originally opposed by President Eisenhower and Secretary Ezra Taft Benson. We deplore the diversion of this conservation program into a direct vote-buying scheme.
Farmers have had to struggle for three and one-half years while their net farm income has fallen more than one billion dollars a year. Their parity ratio, which under Democratic Administrations had been 100 percent or more during the eleven years prior to 1953, dropped to as low as 80 percent during the Eisenhower Administration, and the farmers' share of the consumers' food dollar shrank from 47 cents in 1952 to as low as only 38 cents. One stark fact stands out clearly for all to see—disastrously low farm prices and record high consumer prices vie with each other for the attention of responsible government. In a reduction of this incongruous spread lies the answer to some of the most vexing problems of agricultural economics.
In their courageous fight to save their homes and land, American farmers have gone deeper and deeper into debt. Last year farmers' mortgage indebtedness increased more than in any year in history with the exception of the year 1923.
The Democratic Party met similar situations forthrightly in the past with concrete remedial action. It takes legitimate pride in its consistent record of initiating and developing every constructive program designed to protect and conserve the human and natural resources so vital to our rural economy. These programs enabled consumers to obtain more abundant supplies of high-quality food and fiber at reasonable prices while maintaining adequate income for farmers and improving the level of family living in rural areas.
In order to regain the ground lost during the Eisenhower Administration, and in order better to serve both consumers and producers, the Democratic Party pledges continuous and vigorous support to the following policies:
Sponsor a positive and comprehensive program to conserve our soil, water and forest resources for future generations;
Promote programs which will protect and preserve the family-type farm as a bulwark of American life, and encourage farm-home ownership, including additional assistance to family farmers and young farmers in the form of specially designed credit and price-support programs, technical aid, and enlarged soil conservation allowances.
Maintain adequate reserves of agricultural commodities strategically situated, for national security purposes. Such stockpiles should be handled as necessary strategic reserves, so that farmers will not be penalized by depressed prices for their efficiency and diligence in producing abundance;
Promote international exchange of commodities by creating an International Food Reserve, fostering commodity agreements, and vigorously administering the Foreign Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act;
Undertake immediately by appropriate action to endeavor to regain the full 100 percent of parity the farmers received under the Democratic Administrations. We will achieve this by means of supports on basic commodities at 90 percent of parity and by means of commodity loans, direct purchases, direct payments to producers, marketing agreements and orders, production adjustments, or a combination of these, including legislation, to bring order and stability into the relationship between the producer, the processor and the consumer;
Develop practical measures for extending price supports to feed grains and other nonbasic storables and to the producers of perishable commodities such as meat, poultry, dairy products and the like;
Inaugurate a food-stamp or other supplemental food program administered by appropriate State or local agencies to insure that no needy family shall be denied an adequate and wholesome diet because of low income;
Continue and expand school lunch and special milk programs to meet the dietary needs of all school children;
Increase the distribution of food to public institutions and organizations and qualified private charitable agencies, and increase the distribution of food and fiber to needy people in other nations through recognized charitable and religious channels;
Devise and employ effective means to reduce the spread between producers' prices and consumers' costs, and improve market facilities and marketing practices;
Expand the program of agricultural research and education for better distribution, preservation and marketing of farm products to serve both producers and consumers, and promote increased industrial use of farm surpluses;
Provide for an increased reservoir of farm credit at lower rates, designed particularly to accommodate operators of small family-type farms, and extend crop insurance to maximum coverage and protection;
Return the administration of farm programs to farmer-elected committeemen, eliminate the deplorable political abuses in Federal employment in many agricultural counties as practiced by the Eisenhower Administration, and restore leadership to the administration of soil conservation districts;
Insure reliable and low-cost rural electric and telephone service;
Exercise authority in existing law relating to imports of price-supported agricultural commodities in raw, manufactured or processed form as part of our national policy to minimize damage to our domestic economy;
Encourage bona fide farm cooperatives which help farmers reduce the cost-price squeeze, and protect such cooperatives against punitive taxation;
Expand farm forestry marketing research and price reporting on timber products, and provide adequate credit designed to meet the needs of timber farmers; and
Enact a comprehensive farm program which, under intelligent and sympathetic Democratic administration, will make the rural homes of America better and healthier places in which to live.
VI. General Welfare
The Democratic Party believes that America can and must adopt measures to assure every citizen an opportunity for a full, healthy and happy life. To this end, we pledge ourselves to the expansion and improvement of the great social welfare programs inaugurated under Democratic Administrations.
By lowering the retirement age for women and for disabled persons, the Democratic 84th Congress pioneered two great advances in Social Security, over the bitter opposition of the Eisenhower Administration. We shall continue our efforts to broaden and strengthen this program by increasing benefits to keep pace with improving standards of living; by raising the wage base upon which benefits depend; and by increasing benefits for each year of covered employment.
We shall continue to work for a stronger unemployment insurance system, with broader coverage and increased benefits consistent with rising earnings. We shall also work for the establishment of a floor to assure minimum level and duration of benefits, and fair eligibility rules.
Wage Losses Due to Illness.
In 1946, a Democratic Congress enacted an insurance program to protect railroad workers against temporary wage losses due to short-term illnesses. Because this program has worked so effectively, we favor extending similar protection to other workers.
We pledge improvements in the public assistance program even beyond those enacted by the Democratic 84th Congress, through increased aid for the aged, the blind, dependent children, the disabled and other needy persons who are not adequately protected by our contributory insurance programs.
Additional Needs of Our Senior Citizens.
To meet the needs of the 14 million Americans aged 65 or over, we pledge ourselves to seek means of assuring these citizens greater income through expanded opportunities for employment, vocational retraining and adult education; better housing and health services for the aged; rehabilitation of the physically and mentally disabled to restore them to independent, productive lives; and intensified medical and other research aimed both at lengthening life and making the longer life more truly livable.
Health and Medical Care.
The strength of our Nation depends on the health of our people. The shortage of trained medical and health personnel and facilities has impaired American health standards and has increased the cost of hospital care beyond the financial capacities of most American families.
We pledge ourselves to initiate programs of Federal financial aid, without Federal controls, for medical education.
We pledge continuing and increased support for hospital construction programs, as well as increased Federal aid to public health services, particularly in rural areas.
Mindful of the dramatic progress made by medical research in recent years, we shall continue to support vigorously all efforts, both public and private, to wage relentless war on diseases which afflict the bodies and minds of men. We commend the Democratic Party for its leadership in obtaining greater Congressional authorizations in this field.
We pledge our Party to immediate revival of the basic housing program enacted by the Democratic Congress in 1949, to expansion of this program as our population and resources grow, and to additional legislation to provide housing for middle-income families and aged persons. Aware of the financial burdens which press upon most American communities and prevent them from taking full advantage of Federal urban redevelopment and renewal programs, we favor increasing the Federal share of the cost of these programs.
We reaffirm the goal expressed by a Democratic Congress in 1949 that every American family is entitled to a "decent home and a suitable living environment." The Republican Administration has sabotaged that goal by reducing the public housing program to a fraction of the Nation's need.
We pledge that the housing insurance and mortgage guarantee programs will be redirected in the interest of the home owner, and that the availability of low-interest housing credit will be kept consistent with the expanding housing needs of the Nation.
We favor providing aid to urban and suburban communities in better planning for their future development and redevelopment.
Every American child, irrespective of race or national origin, economic status or place of residence, has full right under the law and the Constitution, without discrimination, to every educational opportunity for developing his potentialities.
We are now faced with shortages of educational facilities that threaten national security, economic prosperity and human well-being. The resources of our States and localities are already strained to the limit. Federal aid and action should be provided, within the traditional framework of State and local control.
We pledge the Democratic Party to the following:
(1) Legislation providing Federal financing to assist States and local communities to build schools, and to provide essential health and safety services for all school children;
(2) Better educational, health and welfare opportunities for children of migratory workers;
(3) Assistance to programs for training teachers of exceptional children;
(4) Programs providing for the training of teachers to meet the critical shortage in technical and scientific fields; and
(5) Expansion of the program of student, teacher and cultural exchange with other nations.
We commend the 84th Congress for voting the maximum authorized funds for vocational education under the Smith-Hughes Act for the first time in the history of the Act. We pledge continuing and increased support of vocational training for youth and adults, including aid to the States and localities for area technical-vocational schools.
To keep pace with the growing need for child care and welfare, we pledge an expanded program of grants to the States. We pledge continued support of adequate day care centers to care for the children of the millions of American mothers who work to help support their families.
Aid to the Physically Handicapped.
There are today several million physically handicapped citizens, many of whom could become self-supporting if given the opportunity and training for rehabilitation. We pledge support to a vastly expanded rehabilitation program for these physically handicapped, including increased aid to the States, in contrast to the grossly inadequate action of the Republican Administration.
VII. Financial Policy
A fully expanding economy can yield enough tax revenues to meet the inescapable obligations of government, balance the Federal Budget, and lighten the tax burden. The immediate need is to correct the inequities in the tax structure which reflect the Republican determination to favor the few at the expense of the many. We favor realistic tax adjustments, giving first consideration to small independent business and the small individual taxpayer. Lower-income families need tax relief; only a Democratic victory will assure this. We favor an increase in the present personal tax exemption of $600 to a minimum of at least $800.
The Republican debt management policy of higher interest rates serves only to benefit a few to the detriment of the general taxpayer, the small borrower, and the small and middle-class investor in Government bonds. We pledge ourselves to a vigilant review of our debt management policy in order to reduce interest rates in the service of our common welfare.
Protection of Investors.
Effective administration of the Federal securities laws has been undermined by Republican appointees with conflicting interests. Millions of investors who have bought securities with their savings are today without adequate protection. We favor vigorous administration and revision of the laws to provide investor safeguards for securities extensively traded in the over-the-counter market, for foreign securities distributed in the United States, and against proxy contest abuses.
VIII. Government Operations
The Democratic Party pledges that it will return the administration of our National Government to a sound, efficient, and honest basis.
Civil Service and Federal Employee Relations.
The Eisenhower Administration has failed either to understand or trust the Federal employee. Its record in personnel management constitutes a grave indictment of policies reflecting prejudices and excessive partisanship to the detriment of employee morale.
Intelligent and sympathetic programs must be immediately undertaken to insure the re-establishment of the high morale and efficiency which were characteristic of the Federal worker during 20 years of Democratic Administrations.
To accomplish these objectives, we propose:
(1) Protection and extension of the merit system through the enactment of laws to specify the rights and responsibilities of workers;
(2) A more independent Civil Service Commission in order that it may provide the intelligent leadership essential in perfecting a proper Civil Service System;
(3) Promotion within the Federal Service under laws assuring advancement on merit and proven ability;
(4) Salary increases of a nature that will insure a truly competitive scale at all levels of employment;
(5) Recognition by law of the right of employee organizations to represent their members and to participate in the formulation and improvement of personnel policies and practices; and
(6) A fair and non-political loyalty program, by law, which will protect the Nation against subversion and the employee against unjust and un-American treatment.
Restoring the Efficiency of the Postal Service.
The bungling policies of the Republican Administration have crippled and impaired the morale, efficiency and reputation of the U. S. Postal Service. Mail carriers and clerks and other Postal employees are compelled to work under intolerable conditions. Communication by mail and service by parcel post have been delayed and retarded with resulting hardships, business losses and inconveniences. A false concept of economy has impaired seriously the efficiency of the best communication system in the world.
We pledge ourselves to programs which will:
(1) Restore the principle that the Postal Service is a public service to be operated in the interest of improved business economy and better communication, as well as an aid to the dissemination of information and intelligence;
(2) Restore Postal employee morale through the strengthening of the merit system, with promotions by law rather than caprice or partisan politics, and payment of realistic salaries reflecting the benefits of an expanded economy;
(3) Establish a program of research and development on a scale adequate to insure the most modern and efficient handling of the mails; and
(4) Undertake modernization and construction of desperately needed Postal facilities designed to insure the finest Postal system in the world.
Conflict of Interests.
Maladministration and selfish manipulation have characterized Federal Administration during the Eisenhower years, Taxpayers, paying billions of dollars each year to their Government, demand and must have the highest standards of honesty, integrity and efficiency as a minimum requirement of Federal Executive conduct. We pledge a strong merit system as a substitute for cynical policies of spoils and special favor which are now the rule of the day. We seek the constant improvement of the Federal Government apparatus to accomplish these ends.
Under certain conditions, we recognize the need for the employment of personnel without compensation in the Executive Branch of the Government. But the privileges extended these dollar-a-year men have resulted in grave abuses of power. Some of these representatives of large corporations have assumed a dual loyalty to the Government and to the corporations that pay them. These abuses under the Republican Administration have been scandalous. The Democratic Party proposes that any necessary use of non-compensated employees shall be made only after the most careful scrutiny and under the most rigidly prescribed safeguards to prevent any conflict of interests.
Freedom of Information.
During recent years there has developed a practice on the part of Federal agencies to delay and withhold information which is needed by Congress and the general public to make important decisions affecting their lives and destinies. We believe that this trend toward secrecy in Government should be reversed and that the Federal Government should return to its basic tradition of exchanging and promoting the freest flow of information possible in those unclassified areas where secrets involving weapons development and bona fide national security are not involved. We condemn the Eisenhower Administration for the excesses practiced in this vital area, and pledge the Democratic Party to reverse this tendency, substituting a rule of law for that of broad claims of executive privilege.
We reaffirm our position of 1952 "to press strongly for world-wide freedom in the gathering and dissemination of news." We shall press for free access to information throughout the world for our journalists and scholars.
The shocking disclosures in the last Congress of attempts by selfish interests to exert improper influence on members of Congress have resulted in a Congressional investigation now under way. The Democratic Party pledges itself to provide effective regulation and full disclosure of campaign expenditures and contributions in elections to Federal offices.
Equal Rights Amendment.
We of the Democratic Party recommend and indorse for submission to the Congress a Constitutional amendment providing equal rights for women.
We are spending approximately 4 3/4 billion dollars per year on veterans' benefits. There are more than 22 million veterans in civil life today and approximately 4 million veterans or dependents of deceased veterans drawing direct cash benefits from the Veterans Administration. It is clear that a matter of such magnitude demands more prominence in the affairs of Government. We pledge that we will elevate the Veterans Administration to a place of dignity commensurate with its importance in national affairs.
We charge the present Administration with open hostility toward the veterans' hospital program as disclosed by its efforts to restrict severely that program in fiscal year 1954. We further charge the Administration with incompetence and gross neglect in the handling of veterans' benefits in the following particulars:
(1) The refusal to allow service connection for disabilities incurred in or aggravated by military service, and the unwarranted reduction of disability evaluations in cases where service connection has been allowed; and
(2) The failure to give proper protection to veterans purchasing homes under the VA home loan program both by inadequate supervision of the program and, in some instances, by active cooperation with unscrupulous builders, lenders and real estate brokers.
In recognition of the valiant efforts of those who served their Nation in its gravest hours, we pledge:
(1) Continuance of the Veterans Administration as an independent Federal agency handling veterans programs;
(2) Continued recognition of war veterans, with adequate compensation for the service-connected disabled and for the survivors of those who have passed away in service or from service-incurred disabilities; and with pensions for disabled and distressed veterans, and for the dependents of those who have passed on, where they are in need or unable to provide for themselves;
(3) Maintenance of the Veterans Administration hospital system, with no impairment in the high quality of medical and hospital service;
(4) Priority of hospitalization for the service-connected disabled, and the privilege of hospital care when beds are available for the non-service-connected illness of veterans who are sick and without funds or unable to procure private hospitalization;
(5) Fair administration of veterans preference laws, and employment opportunities for handicapped and disabled veterans;
(6) Full hearings for war veterans filing valid applications with the review, corrective and settlement boards of the Federal Government; and
(7) Support for legislation to obtain an extension of the current law to enable veterans to obtain homes and farms through the continuance of the GI Loan Program.
Statehood for Alaska and Hawaii.
We condemn the Republican Administration for its utter disregard of the rights to statehood of both Alaska and Hawaii. These territories have contributed greatly to our national economic and cultural life and are vital to our defense. They are part of America and should be recognized as such. We of the Democratic Party, therefore, pledge immediate Statehood for these two territories. We commend these territories for the action their people have taken in the adoption of constitutions which will become effective forthwith when they are admitted into the Union.
The Democratic Party views with satisfaction the progress and growth achieved by Puerto Rico since its political organization as a Commonwealth under Democratic Party leadership. We pledge, once again, our continued support of the Commonwealth and its development and growth along lines of increasing responsibility and authority, keeping as functions of the Federal Government only such as are essential to the existence of the compact of association adopted by the Congress of the United States and the people of Puerto Rico.
The progress of Puerto Rico under Commonwealth status has been notable proof of the great benefits which flow from self-government and the good neighbor policy which under Democratic leadership this country has always followed.
We favor increased self-government for the Virgin Islands to provide for an elected Governor and a Resident Commissioner in the Congress of the United States. We denounce the scandalous administration of the first Eisenhower-appointed Governor of the Virgin Islands.
Other Territories and Possessions.
We favor increased self-government for Guam, other outlying territories and the Trust Territory of the Pacific.
District of Columbia.
We favor immediate home rule and ultimate national representation for the District of Columbia.
Recognizing that all American Indians are citizens of the United States and of the States in which they reside, and acknowledging that the Federal Government has a unique legal and moral responsibility for Indians which is imposed by the Constitution and spelled out in treaties, statutes and court decisions, we pledge:
Prompt adoption of a Federal program to assist Indian tribes in the full development of their human and natural resources, and to advance the health, education and economic well-being of Indian citizens, preserving their traditions without impairing their cultural heritage;
No alteration of any treaty or other Federal-Indian contractual relationships without the free consent of the Indian tribes concerned; reversal of the present policies which are tending toward erosion of Indian rights, reduction of their economic base through alienation of their lands, and repudiation of Federal responsibility;
Prompt and expeditious settlement of Indian claims against the United States, with full recognition of the rights of both parties; and
Elimination of all impediments to full citizenship for American Indians.
The Democratic Party has upheld its belief in the Constitution as a charter of individual rights, an effective instrument for human progress. Democratic Administrations placed upon the statute books during their last 20 years a multitude of measures which testify to our belief in the Jeffersonian principle of local control even in general legislation involving Nation-wide programs. Selective Service, Social Security, agricultural adjustment, low-rent housing, hospital, and many other legislative programs have placed major responsibilities in States and counties, and provide fine examples of how benefits can be extended through Federal-State cooperation.
While we recognize the existence of honest differences of opinion as to the true location of the Constitutional line of demarcation between the Federal Government and the States, the Democratic Party expressly recognizes the vital importance of the respective States in our Federal Union. The Party of Jefferson and Jackson pledges itself to continued support of those sound principles of local government which will best serve the welfare of our people and the safety of our democratic rights.
Improving Congressional Procedures.
In order that the will of the American people may be expressed upon all legislative proposals, we urge that action he taken at the beginning of the 85th Congress to improve Congressional procedures so that majority rule prevails and decisions can be made after reasonable debate without being blocked by a minority in either House.
IX. Natural Resources
Our national economic strength and welfare depend primarily upon the development of our land, water, mineral and energy resources, with which this Nation has been abundantly blessed.
We pledge unstinting support to a full and integrated program of development, protection, management and conservation of all of our natural resources for all of the people.
The framework of time-tested conservation and mining policy is fixed in laws under which America has developed its natural resources for the general welfare.
The Democratic 84th Congress has remained steadfast to this traditional policy. It has built upon the tremendous conservation and development achievements of the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations by undertaking the greatest program of natural resources development ever assumed by any Congress in our Nation's history.
This constructive Democratic record, embracing all resources of land, water, energy and minerals, is in sharp contrast to the faithless performance of the Eisenhower Administration which has despoiled future generations of their heritage by utter failure to safeguard natural resources. Our people will long remember this betrayal of their heritage as symbolized by the infamous Dixon-Yates contract; the A1 Sarena timber scheme; the low-level Hells Canyon Dams; and for its unreasonable resistance to authorizing the Niagara Project which would benefit so many millions in the State of New York and adjacent areas.
We condemn, and will continue to decry, this pillaging of our dwindling natural resource wealth through political manipulation and administrative subversion by the Eisenhower Administration. We pledge ourselves to halt this betrayal of the people's trust.
We shall devise for the American people a dynamic, far-reaching and progressive conservation program.
The Democratic Party proposes, and will strive to secure, this comprehensive resources program for America's future.
Our land will be preserved and improved for the present and future needs of our people, and not wastefully exploited to benefit special-interest groups.
In contrast to the wasteful neglect of the present Administration, soil conservation practices will be stimulated and intensified to reduce land deterioration under the vital Soil Conservation Service assistance program conceived and fostered by the Democratic Party.
National Parks, Recreation and Wildlife.
We pledge adoption of an immediate and broad policy to mobilize the efforts of private and public agencies for protection of existing recreational areas, provision of new ones, and improvement of inadequate facilities. Slum conditions fostered by Republican neglect are intolerable to the tens of millions of Americans using our national parks and forests. Democratic Administration will end this shocking situation.
Fish and game habitats will be guarded against encroachment for commercial purposes. All river basin development plans will take into full consideration their effect upon fish, wildlife, national park and wilderness areas. The Fish and Wildlife Service must and will be returned to the career status from which it was removed by the political patronage policy of the present Administration.
Recreational facilities for the millions of field and stream sportsmen of America will be conserved and expanded.
Forest and Grazing Lands.
Timber on Federal commercial forest lands will be harvested and managed on a sustained-yield basis.
We propose to increase forest access roads in order to improve cutting practices on both public and private lands.
Private owners of farm, forest and range lands need and must have financial and technical assistance so that all lands will be utilized to contribute more fully to the national welfare by production of food and fiber and protection of our watersheds. Any effort to transform grazing permits from a revocable license to a vested right will be rejected.
We will vigorously advocate Federally-financed forestation, upstream erosion control and flood control programs on our public range, timber lands and small drainage basins to protect our watersheds and double the rate of forage and commercial timber growth. We will promote cooperative programs with Government assistance to reduce timber losses from fire, insects, and disease.
Prospecting and mining on unreserved Federal lands will be encouraged, but surface areas not needed in mining will be safeguarded by appropriate legislation.
We pledge the resumption of rapid and orderly multiple-purpose river basin development throughout the country. This program will bring into reality the full potential benefits of flood control, irrigation and our domestic and municipal water supply from surface and underground waters. It will also materially aid low-cost power, navigation, recreation, fish and wild-life propagation and mineral development. We pledge our aid to the growing requirements of the semiarid Western States for an adequate water supply to meet the vital domestic, irrigation and industrial needs of the rapidly growing urban centers. Enhanced regional economies will strengthen the economy of the Nation as a whole.
We will take appropriate and vigorous steps to prevent comprehensive drainage basin development plans from being fragmented by single-purpose projects. The conservation of water is essential to the life of the Nation. The Democratic Party pledges itself to conservation of water in the public interest.
The Democratic 84th Congress has taken a long step toward reducing the pollution of our rivers and streams. We pledge continuation and expansion of this program, vital to every citizen.
The program of obtaining a large new source of fresh water supply from salt water was begun by the Democratic Party, but has been allowed to lapse by the Eisenhower Republican Administration. It will be resumed and accelerated.
We pledge ourselves to carry forward, under national policy, aggressive programs to provide abundant supplies of low-cost energy, including continued research for the development of synthetic liquid fuel from coal, shale and agricultural products. These we must have to feed our insatiable industrial economy, to enable our workers to develop their skills and increase their productivity, to provide more jobs at higher wages, to meet the ever-mounting demands for domestic and farm uses, including the production of lower-cost farm fertilizers and lower-cost power to consumers.
We will carry forward increased and full production of hydroelectric power on our rivers and of steam generation for the Tennessee Valley Authority to meet its peacetime and defense requirements. Such self-liquidating projects must go forward in a rapid and orderly manner, with appropriate financing plans. Integrated regional transmission systems will enhance exchange of power and encourage diversified industrial development.
We shall once more rigorously enforce the anti-monopoly and public body preference clauses, including the Holding Company Act, administratively circumvented by the Eisenhower Republican Administration. We shall preserve and strengthen the public power competitive yardstick in power developments under TVA, REA, Bureau of Reclamation, Bonneville, Southeast and Southwest Power Administrations and other future projects, including atomic power plants, under a policy of the widest possible use of electric energy at the lowest possible cost.
The Republican Administration has seriously neglected and ignored one of the Nation's basic industries, metal mining. We recognize that a healthy mining industry is essential to the economy of the Nation, and therefore pledge immediate efforts toward the establishment of a realistic, long-range minerals policy. The Nation's minerals and fuels are essential to the safety, security and development of our country. We pledge the adoption of policies which will further encourage the exploration and development of additional reserves of our mineral resources.
We will undertake comprehensive scientific and economic research programs for the conservation and better utilization of, and new markets for, fishery products. We favor and will encourage reciprocal world trade in fish products.
We pledge ourselves to a public works and water policy providing adequate protection for domestic fishery resources.
We favor treaties with other nations for conservation and better utilization of international fisheries.
To the end that the scenic beauty of our land may be preserved and maintained for this and future generations to enjoy, we pledge accelerated support of educational programs to stimulate individual responsibility and pride in clean, attractive surroundings—from big cities to rural areas.
X. Atomic Energy
The atomic era came into being and was developed under Democratic Administrations.
The genius of American scientists, engineers and workmen, supported by the vision and courage of Franklin D. Roosevelt, made possible the splitting of the atom and the development of the first atomic bomb in time to end World War II.
With the ending of the war, the supremacy of America in atomic weapons was maintained under the leadership of President Truman, and the United States pushed ahead vigorously toward utilizing this new form of energy in peaceful pursuits, particularly in the fields of medicine, agriculture and industry. By the end of the Truman Administration, the pre-eminence of the United States in the nuclear field was clearly established, and we were on the threshold of large-scale development of industrial nuclear energy at home and as an instrument of world peace.
The Eisenhower Administration promptly reversed the field and plunged the previously independent and nonpartisan Atomic Energy Commission into partisan politics. For example, President Eisenhower ordered the Commission to sign the scandalous Dixon-Yates contract. He was later forced to repudiate the same contract, after the exposure of the illegal activities of one of his own consultants with a secret office in the Bureau of the Budget.
The Republican Administration has followed the same pattern in the field of atomic energy that it has pursued in its treatment of other natural resources—lofty words, little action, but steady service to selfish interests. While the AEC and the special private interests consult and confer, the United States is lagging instead of leading in the world race for nuclear power, international prestige and world markets.
The Democrats in Congress believed that the national interest thus became imperiled, and they moved to meet the challenge both at home and abroad. They established a nonpartisan panel of eminent Americans to study the impact of the peaceful atom.
Following the comprehensive report of this panel, the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy held extensive hearings on bills to accelerate the atomic reactor demonstration program. Though the bills were reported unanimously from committee, the Republican members of Congress, under heavy pressure from the White House, insured the final defeat of this legislation in the Congress.
But the fight to bring nuclear power to the people has only begun. As the United States was first in the development of the atom as a weapon, so the United States must lead in bringing the blessings of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy to mankind.
Hence, the Democratic Party pledges itself:
(1) To restore nonpartisan administration of the vital atomic energy program and to expand and accelerate nuclear development by vigorous action:
(2) To accelerate the domestic civilian atomic power program by the construction of a variety of demonstration prototype reactors;
(3) To give reality—life and meaning—to the "Atoms for Peace" program. We will substitute deeds for words;
(4) To increase the production of fissionable material for use in a stockpile for peacetime commitments at home and abroad, and for an ever-present reserve for weapons to guarantee freedom in the world;
(5) To conduct a comprehensive survey of radiation hazards from bomb tests and reactor operations, in order to determine what additional measures are required to protect existing and future generations from these invisible dangers; and
(6) To make the maximum contribution to the defense of our Nation and the free world through the development of a balanced and flexible stockpile of nuclear weapons, containing a sufficient number and variety to support our armed services in any contingency.
XI. Civil Rights
The Democratic Party is committed to support and advance the individual rights and liberties of all Americans. Our country is founded on the proposition that all men are created equal. This means that all citizens are equal before the law and should enjoy all political rights. They should have equal opportunities for education, for economic advancement, and for decent living conditions.
We will continue our efforts to eradicate discrimination based on race, religion or national origin. We know this task requires action, not just in one section of the Nation, but in all sections. It requires the cooperative efforts of individual citizens, and action by State and local governments. It also requires Federal action. The Federal Government must live up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and must exercise the powers vested in it by the Constitution.
We are proud of the record of the Democratic Party in securing equality of treatment and opportunity in the nation's armed forces, the Civil Service, and in all areas under Federal jurisdiction. The Democratic Party pledges itself to continue its efforts to eliminate illegal discriminations of all kinds, in relation to (1) full rights to vote, (2) full rights to engage in gainful occupations, (3) full rights to enjoy security of the person, and (4) full fights to education in all publicly supported institutions.
Recent decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States relating to segregation in publicly supported schools and elsewhere have brought consequences of vast importance to our Nation as a whole and especially to communities directly affected. We reject all proposals for the use of force to interfere with the orderly determination of these matters by the courts.
The Democratic Party emphatically reaffirms its support of the historic principle that ours is a government of laws and not of men; it recognizes the Supreme Court of the United States as one of the three Constitutional and coordinate branches of the Federal Government, superior to and separate from any political party, the decisions of which are part of the law of the land. We condemn the efforts of the Republican Party to make it appear that this tribunal is a part of the Republican Party.
We condemn the Republican Administration's violation of the rights of Government employees by a heartless and unjustified confusing of "security" and "loyalty" for the sole purpose of political gain and regardless of consequences to individual victims and to the good name of the United States. We condemn the Republican Administration's misrepresentation of facts and violation of individual rights in a wicked and unprincipled attempt to degrade and destroy the Democratic Party, and to make political capital for the Republican Party.
|Citation: Democratic Party Platforms: "1956 Democratic Party Platform", August 13, 1956. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29601.|
© 1999-2011 - Gerhard Peters - The American Presidency Project