Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Radio and Television Remarks on Election Eve.

November 01, 1954

GOOD EVENING. And now we come again to the end of a political campaign. The candidates have presented their arguments. The shouting dies away. And now it is up to you, the American citizens. Tomorrow you sit as judges on all this, and make your decisions. The farmers, the lawyers, the teachers, the preachers, the taxicab drivers, the miners-- all of us--all of us march to the polls tomorrow, where every single American is the equal of every other American, and there register those decisions that will affect our national life and our personal lives for the next 2 years--and even on far beyond that.

Now the decision is not an easy one. Issues are often intricate, not easily understood, and of course they are normally presented from a partisan standpoint. And so each citizen has to decide for himself just where the truth does lie.

The fact that these decisions are difficult was brought emphatically to my attention the other day. You know that most of the prayer books in our churches have special prayers for the welfare, the prosperity, the safety, the peace, of the United States of America. I ran onto one that addressed itself particularly to election day. It sought divine guidance for each citizen in making the decisions that you have to make. And we, knowing how difficult those decisions are, can understand the reasonableness of such a prayer.

Now the first point I should like to make with you is this you inescapably must participate in this decision. You may do this in two ways. You may do it in a positive way. By that I mean you may vote for the program in which you believe, and for the personalities that you believe will carry out that program. In this way you do your best to see that those things in which you believe for America come into effect as a policy and a governmental program, in the State, in the municipality, or in the Federal Government.

Now, you may not vote. Suppose you don't. Then the effect of that is that you double the value of the vote of anyone who does not believe in the things that you believe in. By staying away from the polls, you have, then, participated in the decision; and this means there is no such thing as sitting out an election. There is no such thing as escaping responsibility for your own decisions in this matter, and you cannot escape the consequences of that decision. Either negatively or positively, you are voting for what you believe in.

Well, some may say, "But of course, there is no one that I believe in implicitly." Maybe so. There is nothing perfect in humanity. And all humans make mistakes and certainly all political parties do. But you can make your decision as to what you believe to be more in line, what program, to be more in line with your own thinking; and certainly you can make up your mind as to whether you will get the greatest prudence, the greatest honesty, the greatest integrity, the greatest businesslike methods and economy in Government.

So for now, and for the future, you are tomorrow participating either positively or negatively in this great decision. Now this is very important to you--to all of us--for this reason. From the time we are born and the date of our birth is registered in the governmental registry office, until we are interested in old-age pensions, somewhere along the line we are forever touching Government, or Government is touching our lives. Now just think of such things as schools and hospitals and roads--all provided by the Government in some form or other. The regulation of our utilities-the levying of our taxes--and the value of our money--keeping our money solid, so that people of modest income--like most of us--can be sure that our pensions are going to be worth what we put into them, that our savings accounts are not going to be ruined, our insurance policies will be worth just as much when we finally draw them as when we pay the premiums.

So, such other things as social security, and the economic programs that affect the farmer--labor-management--all are intended to prevent depression and the loss of employment. Our unemployment insurance. Measures against subversion. Civil rights programs. And the national security--and all the money we must pour into these military establishments, and economy and efficiency in doing so. Think what all these things mean to you. And then, of course, always, matters of foreign policy and our quest for peace.

Now, my friends, if you don't vote for what you believe in, then it is easily possible that minorities--either minorities or pressure groups--can take over and establish the policies for our Government for the next 2 years, and indeed possibly on long beyond that, for you and for your children. But if all America votes, then America will get the kind of Government in Washington, and in your State, that America wants.

Now 2 years ago there were 61½ million people went to the polls. That was a Presidential year, and so it is possible we won't have that many tomorrow. But here is a very important point we must all remember: no matter how few people might go to the polls, the rest of us are compelled to observe and honor their decision for the next 2 years. If we did not honor that decision, no matter how few turned out to make it, we would be disloyal to our country, to the ideals for which she stands. We are not going to do that.

So, my friends, you owe it to yourself, you owe it to your country, you owe it to your children, to turn out and vote tomorrow. Now, in that way you not only do your duty, you also do this: you exercise the greatest right and privilege of the American citizen.

And let me give you one more little suggestion: the other day, in answer to letters from some friends of mine, I called them up and said, "Why don't you call up 10 of your friends and ask them to call their friends to vote. Not how to vote. Just vote." Now, why don't you check up tomorrow and call up 10 of your friends and say "Just vote." If you do that, that will be a voluntary act on your part, just over and beyond your own duty of voting.

And now, for both Mamie and me, good night.

Note: The President spoke at 9:20 p.m. at a studio of the Columbia Broadcasting System in Washington.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Remarks on Election Eve. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233206

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