Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at Eisenhower Day Dinner Given by the Citizens for Eisenhower Congressional Committee for the District of Columbia

October 28, 1954

My good friends:

For both Mamie and myself, let me first say that it is wonderful to be with you again. It is wonderful to see the bandwagon and the Ike balloon, even if only in the moon. Everything about this meeting is one to give me a lift. In fact, I came here this evening with the mission of seeing whether I could help you go out through the land to stir up the sense of duty and the enthusiasm among the voters of this country that they need.

I must tell you, I can add nothing to what you people can do. If I could only shift to this country, to each corner, some of your fervor, some of your enthusiasm, some of your great faith and readiness to work, some of your youth, not merely youth in years but youth in outlook, how happy I would be.

In 1952, I met so often and so happily with the "Citizens" groups, that to renew the experience here this evening gives me a heart-warming feeling just of coming home.

You and I, and thousands of others were the partners in a political campaign. Together we built our platform of convictions and pledges.

Two busy years have passed since we crowded to the polls in the cities and towns and villages of our country to establish the kind of government in which you and I believe. By the tens of millions, Americans of all parties, all callings, all races emphatically made their wishes known.

You remember what we worked so hard for 2 years ago.

We worked to get honest and efficient government--the kind of government pledged by the Republican Party and its great allies, the citizens groups of Independents and of Democrats.

You and I worked for the kind of government that stays close to the homes of America.

Especially we fought for government that would concern itself with all the people--and that would make America strong abroad and strengthen prosperity and freedom at home.

And above all, we wanted progress toward peace.

To this kind of government we have dedicated ourselves. For it, for 21 months, my associates and I in the Congress and the Executive Branch have been working incessantly. With your support, we have made real progress.
The question now is: "Are we to continue that advance?" To forge ahead requires us to keep in positions of legislative responsibility the team of leaders who have been guiding this program through our Congress. This requires another Republican-led Congress.

Now, how far have we come in these 21 months?

First--where do we stand today in the world as compared to January 1953?

Two years ago there was a costly and apparently endless war in Korea which daily and weekly was taking the lives of America's youth. All the world was restless and irritable. Hot spots glowed threateningly in Iran, Trieste, Suez. In Europe, disunity and dissension hindered progress toward world security. Even here in the Western Hemisphere, in Guatemala, international communism was raising a menacing head. Each of these trouble spots threatened to flame, without warning, into disaster.

But gradually crisis was forced to give way to promise.

In Korea, 14 months ago, the futile waste of American life and treasure was stopped.

In Europe, only a few days ago, we saw an historic step toward unity and strength. It may well prove to be the greatest stabilizing accomplishment of this century in world affairs.

Meanwhile, two of our friends, Yugoslavia and Italy, cleared up years of trouble over Trieste.

Two other friends, England and Egypt, solved long-standing differences over Suez.

Strategic Iran, with its vast oil riches, threw off a threat of Communist domination and came strongly to our side.

The Communist foothold in our hemisphere was eliminated.

In southeast Asia, threatened by the Communist advance, a security coalition has at last been developed.

In all these heartening events, America was privileged to participate as an understanding and helpful friend.

The brightened prospects for free world security and eventual peace must be classed as one of the most important facts of recent years. I deeply believe that the foreign policy of America is a bipartisan matter. More than any previous Administration, this one has observed the requirements of this truth. Consultations with leaders of the other party in this delicate, vital area of government have been candid and open, and more frequent than ever before.

Nevertheless, my friends, in this field, as in all others, America needs a close-working Executive-Legislative team. It needs undivided leadership which all of us can hold responsible for results; we cannot pursue peace so effectively when divided leadership can provide evasion of responsibility, and can afford to both parties alibis for failure.

At home, we have redeemed our pledge of 1952 to give America clean and efficient government.

We have moved decisively to root out subversion in this land.

We have removed from the government employ, people who failed to meet the high standards of public trust.

Along the way, we dropped 211 thousand excess positions from the Federal payroll.

Then, with the cooperation of the Congress, we redeemed another pledge by making possible the biggest tax cut in America's history, and I remind you, the only tax reform in many years.

Government spending was slashed by billions.

Social security benefits were accorded to 10 million more citizens.

Unemployment insurance was extended to 4 million more citizens.

A new housing program was started so that every American can have a decent home.

A new farm program was passed designed to stop the many years of decline in farm income.

Two years ago we also demanded peace and prosperity. Thanks to a good Congress, thanks to hard work by many people in Washington and throughout the land, we have made the most significant domestic accomplishment of recent decades.

We have proved at last that America can go from war to peace without a terrifying depression.

By every measure of a nation's increase in wealth and productivity, 1954 is by far our most prosperous year of peace in all our history. Sensible handling of money supply and money rates, expansion of social security, tax reductions and reform, hard work, public and private building of confidence all across the broad economic front--these have at last eliminated from American life the dreaded specter of economic collapse.

But we know that still today, as an aftermath of the war and the inflation it brought, some unemployment persists amidst our general prosperity. So long as any citizen wants work and cannot find it, we have a pressing problem to solve. This Administration is working vigorously to bring about a lasting solution. Indeed, only this month unemployment dropped by hundreds of thousands. Unemployment today stands much below the levels of 1950. It is not even one-third of the 1940 level. In both those years, millions of people had been without jobs for long periods. And they did not get jobs until the nation went to war. Then workers got jobs in uniform or in war plants.

No wonder--no wonder many had come to believe that America could prosper only when American blood was flowing on the field of battle. Happily, faith in our system, confidence in the future, cooperation between industry and government, and wise decisions have dispelled that defeatist attitude. In twenty months, we have eliminated fears rooted in 20 years of economic discouragement and war.

And so, my good friends, this is how far we have come since January 1953.

We have an America at peace.

We have a prosperous America.

We have an America whose government is honest and efficient.

We have an America confident of the future.

And now I repeat: the question before our people tonight is, shall we continue this program? Shall we carry it on to full completion?

I believe that the overwhelming majority of the American people want this kind of progress to continue.

Of course, the Presidency is not at stake, but this election will have a heavy impact upon the future of all our people.

To explain why this is so requires some frank talk about how our Congress works.

The Congress in Washington is made up of over half a thousand men and women, Republicans and Democrats. Under our system, when there are more Republicans than Democrats, the Republicans run the Congress. When there are more Democrats, they run the Congress. And the party that runs the Congress also runs the Committees of the Congress. And it is mainly in these 30-odd Committees that the laws for our country are written.

When pressures of party loyalty and obligations influence legislative leaders and Committee Chairmen to oppose the Executive, there are many things they can do. History shows that both Parties have indulged in these obstructionist practices, sometimes at grave risk to our country's good.

Legislative leaders can stop essential bills in the Legislative Committees, in the Rules Committee, or kill them in the Senate or House of Representatives.

They can refuse to approve appointments to public offices.

They can put political amendments on good laws to force the President to veto the whole, or to accept the amendment in order to get the good law.

For political reasons, they can bottle up program after program to keep the President from doing something no matter how much the people may want it.

Now, my friends, this is no exaggeration. Neither is it accusation. It is simply the way politics has often been played in Washington. One Republican and two Democratic Presidents have, in this generation, testified to the stagnation, frustrations, and political feuds that result when one Party controls the Congress, the other the Executive Branch.

Now, in our system, of course, normally the two Parties, day by day, normally work well together. But they can't both serve efficiently--and at the same time--as the Captains of the Ship of State. When divided control between the Executive and Legislative Branches inspires each party to try to be Captain, which one can then be held responsible by the American people, either for putting the Ship on the rocks or for a successful voyage? For the next 2 years, the Executive Branch will be Republican. Confusion can be avoided and steady progress assured only by electing a Republican majority to the Congress.

I am not talking theory. I am talking hard facts. Here are just a few examples of what we could expect.

If the Democrats should take over the Congress, the Committee which handles your tax laws would be in charge of a man who supported the Administration on only 8 percent of the issues on which the leaders of the two Parties disagreed.

In the Senate and House Committees which handle laws respecting all judicial matters and our courts, the Chairmen would be men who supported the Administration on only 5 percent of those same issues.

The Senate and House Committees handling laws affecting American business would be headed up by men who supported the Administration on only 4 percent of these same issues.

These are just examples. But they illustrate the innumerable obstacles to steady progress if your government team is made up of a Congress controlled by one party and the Executive Branch by the other.

For the good of America, our governmental traffic must be efficiently handled. We won't get anywhere with red lights at all the governmental crossroads. Add to this, two drivers at every governmental steering wheel, each trying to go in a different direction, and we shall certainly end up in a hopeless traffic jam.

You and your friends and I--all of us--made solemn pledges to our country. We have come a long way toward fulfilling them. To go ahead, we must prevent a split government. The job is clear. The progressive program which the vast majority supported in 1952 needs now the reinforcement of their 1954 votes. So the job is to get the voters to the polls. Thus we will keep our government from political fiddling while the world bums. Thus we can go ahead, in this age of peril, building a stronger, better America, and a lasting peace in the world.

Now, my friends, all Americans sincerely long for peace. Neither party needs yield to the other in this regard. But do we want to interrupt the work of proved leaders and impede the progress they have helped so much to bring about in the past 2 years? Do we want uncertainty and confusion to replace certainty and confidence? Do we want divided responsibility or single responsibility? To ask these questions is to answer them. America needs another Republican-led Congress.

This calls upon us for the same enthusiasm and fervor with which we burned 2 years ago. And if this meeting--if this meeting is anything at all like the rest of the Citizens for Eisenhower groups throughout this United States, there is no question--you would wonder why I am talking. I am talking because I believe this so much. I believe, with you, we must go ahead.

Now, if we are to do this, it means, of course, talking to your neighbors, using the telephone, ringing doorbells, getting out the vote as you did then.

And I ask you these questions:

Is steady and sure progress toward world peace worth this kind of hard work?

Is prosperity worth it?

Is efficient, honest government worth it?

Are tax cuts, good homes, loyal employees, alertness against subversion and preventing inflation worth this hard work?

Of course they are. You have proved it by your acts.

Well, then, let's all of us--you and I--no matter how much we put forth before, let's roll up our sleeves and go harder to work--for a stronger America, good government, and a world at peace.

Let's have another Republican-led Congress.

Note: The President spoke at the Statler Hotel in Washington at 9:30 p.m.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at Eisenhower Day Dinner Given by the Citizens for Eisenhower Congressional Committee for the District of Columbia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233107

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