Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on the California Political Campaign

October 31, 1938

Dear George:

I should have written you sooner had I not been expecting you here. Since our last conversation I have been keeping in close touch with the political situation in your State. Doubtless you have seen my letter to Jerry Voorhis.

What I have learned from many sources checks with what you told me. Apparently an impression is being carefully propagandized through California that since I do not agree with the "$30.00 every Thursday" plan I am indifferent to the nominees of the Democratic Party on both the State and National tickets.

That is a fiat misrepresentation of my position. It is not true. I wish you would make clear to every Democrat, Progressive and Liberal you can reach that it is not true.

It is of national importance, in my opinion, that a liberal like Olsen rather than a reactionary be in the State House at Sacramento and that a liberal like Downey rather than a reactionary speak the voice of California in the Senate of the United States.

California is one of the great States of the Union. Its courage in solving its own problems and the way in which the power of its government is employed are of great concern to the whole Union. Like three or four other localities in the United States it is facing our most complicated social problems years ahead of the rest of the country.

Working out those problems demands the closest cooperation of the State Government with the United States Government. It requires leadership with vision, patience and tolerance in meeting local conditions—the attributes of a liberal in the fullest sense of the word.

As for the "$30.00 every Thursday" plan I have never concealed the fact that I am against it. I hope it will not be tried because on the one hand I feel quite sure it will not work and because on the other hand I feel quite sure that we can evolve from the present Social Security statute methods of obtaining security for old age which will work better and better each year. But the plan is wholly a State issue with a separate place on the California State ballot for November eighth.

However important "$30.00 every Thursday" may seem in the heat of the local campaign it is actually only a small item compared with other fundamental trends which will be determined by the results of that campaign.

Sheridan Downey should be judged not by his position on this exclusively State issue but on the temper of mind with which he will meet the really national issues of a totally different kind on which a Senator of the United States has to vote on an average of once a day. And what is important for the people of California, in choosing a Senator, is that the people of California be represented by a man whose fundamental principles lie along progressive and liberal lines rather than by a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary of the vintage of Mark Hanna.

I hope, too, that Culbert Olsen and the other liberal candidates will be elected. As between Olsen and Merriam there can be no doubt as to who is the liberal.

As Woodrow Wilson liked to point out, the reactionaries can always present a front because their program is wholly negative. They want to obstruct all action: they are not concerned with a constructive program of any sort.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable George Creel,
Commissioner, U. S. Golden Gate International Exposition,
San Francisco, California.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on the California Political Campaign Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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