"DEMOCRACY AND THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS"
An Address By WAYNE MORSE United States Senator for Oregon
Thursday, January 11, 1951
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. Sydney Hermant.
MR. HERMANT: Members and Guests of The Empire Club of Canada: We are to hear an address today by United States Senator Wayne Morse, of Oregon. Born on a Wisconsin farm, of New England Yankee ancestry, Senator Morse graduated in Arts, from the University of Wisconsin and obtained his Law Degree from the University of Minnesota. He has since received honorary degrees from Cornell College, Iowa; Drake University; and Columbia University.
In 1945 after twenty years of teaching, Senator Morse left the University of Oregan where he was Dean of the School of Law to win election to the Senate of the United States, representing the Republican Party. Since that time every poll of the Washington newspaper correspondents has rated him in the first ten among influential members of the Senate. In 1948 and again in 1949 Collier's Magazine named Senator Morse among the five outstanding Senators. Described as dynamic, hard-hitting, completely frank, and outspoken in everything he does, Senator Morse has gained national stature by always having the courage of his convictions in the face of political expediency. His political philosophy has been described as sane liberalist, with a small "l" of course. A Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services he led the fight against those who urged that Alaska and the North West be sacrificed as expendable. He urged economic and military aid to Korea, and the preparedness of a seventy group Air Force. Senator Morse is also a Member of the Senate Committee on Labour and Public Welfare, and has opposed the TaftHartly Act as unfair to Labour; but he has been equally opposed to the Wagner Act as unfair to employers. He has denounced socialized Medicine as a tool of National Socialism, at the same time urging reforms and better medical services to more people at less cost. It is now my pleasure to introduce Senator Wayne Morse who will speak on the subject: "Democracy and the Legislative Process".
SENATOR MORSE: Mr. Chairman, Members of The Empire Club, and Guests: It is a signal honor to address this distinguished group. I am more than flattered by the invitation and by the kind remarks of your Chairman.
I want to say, on the basis of the great issues that appeared in the Senate at the last Session--I feel I am among friends so I can speak to you--even from the standpoint of some of the great issues--I refer, of course, to the great St. Lawrence Waterway, which I intend again at this next session of Congress to see what we can do in bringing about the completion of the St. Lawrence Waterway, which I consider a great link in national defence.
Since I am a United States Senator from the State of Oregon and since my subject is "Democracy and the Legislative Process," it occurred to me to give you at the beginning of my remarks a brief outline of my conception of the role of a United States Senator.
I am in part induced to make these introductory observations by some words which appear on the card announcing this meeting, a copy of which your club officials were kind enough to send me the other day. Aside from the very flattering remarks contained on that card concerning myself, I notice that I am billed as "United States Senator for Oregon." While I, of course, do represent my State in the Congress, nevertheless I like to regard myself as a Senator of the United States from the State of Oregon, sent by the people of my state primarily to represent the Nation and not only to represent the people of the state of Oregon. That, I think, is the proper constitutional interpretation of the status of a United States Senator.
Although in the Congress of the United States we frequently have a resurgence of the view which probably reached its height shortly before the war between the states--namely, that a member of the United States Senate sits there as an ambassador from his state and for his state--that conception of the role of a United States Senator was never intended by the founding fathers who wrote the United States Constitution.
Occasionally, Senators from certain sections of the United States revert to the concept of ambassadorship, particularly when issues in the field of civil rights are being debated or matters of special concern to their state are being considered.
Not so long ago, a very distinguished Senator from the southern part of the United States took the position that he was in the Senate as an ambassador from his state, and that he therefore considered it his duty to take advantage of every procedural device and parliamentary strategy at his command in order to prevent the Senate from voting on an issue which he very sincerely thought was not in the interests of his own state.
In this regard, as I have said so many times to the people of my state, I find myself in agreement with Edmund Burke's conception of the role of a legislator, when, I think it was in 1774, he said to his constituents in Bristol; "Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion . . . Government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination, and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion . . . when those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments? To deliver an opinion is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience,--these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our Constitution."
It is, of course, axiomatic that in democracies such as the United States and Canada, the legislative process is the principal means for achieving the aspirations of the people, and that the action taken by the legislature has far-reaching effects upon their standard of living and their way of life. In a democracy we have the opportunity through the legislative process to debate the issues and resolve our differences in point of view to the end that the action taken will be for the greatest good of the greatest number. It is that basic principle of the democratic form of government that has persuaded me to the view that a Senator of the United States serves in his Nation's Legislature primarily for the Nation. Although we periodically have to fight out in the United States Senate this question of the proper concept of the role of a legislator, I firmly believe that the soundest theory is that what is best for the Nation as a whole must necessarily and in the long run be best for each state within the Nation.
In recent years the Congress of the United States has debated many questions in the field of social legislation. In the past two decades or so my Government has launched upon far-reaching legislative programmes in the field of social security, wage and hour controls, the relations between labour and management, fair trade practices, and aid to the states in the fields of health and education. During the past several sessions of Congress there has been a great deal of discussion of expanding aid to the states in the field of elementary and secondary education and also of inaugurating a Federal policy regulating discriminatory employment practices. It is in this field of so-called civil rights legislation that the Congress of the United States has been most sharply divided, and thus far those opposed to the further extension of Federal authority into the relationships between employer and employee--particularly in regard to the establishment of a policy that would outlaw job discrimination on the basis of race, colour or creed--have successfully prevented legislative action.
It would, of course, be presumptuous of me to make any suggestions to this or any other audience in Canada that you here adopt or alter any policy of this country in the field of social or other legislation, but while I am on the subject of social legislation in the United States I do want to mention the fact that as experience has grown under the various programmes in the field of social legislation in my country, the opposition of many of those who originally felt that the Federal Government should not concern itself with these matters has in a large part disappeared. For example, much of the opposition to assistance to the states in regard to the health and education needs of their citizens has disappeared and it is more and more becoming to be recognized that the Federal Government has a proper role to play in building up the health and educational opportunities of its citizens that cannot fully be discharged by relying solely upon the resources of the individual state.
We in the United States are committed to a policy of non-discrimination in job opportunities, not only by the pronouncements of the two major political parties but also by the clear language of the San Francisco Charter. In that charter, the United States and other signatories undertook to promote "universal respect for and observance of human rights and freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion."
In my State we have an F.E.P.C. law which is working very satisfactorily and which has not become the burden upon and interference with employers that so many of the original opponents feared. It is modelled very largely after the New York law which was promulgated and passed under the urgings and statesmanship of the titular head of my party, the distinguished Governor of New York--Tom Dewey.
In my country the passage of Civil Rights legislation. I consider to be one of the great tests of Democracy facing our people on the basis of which they will be judged by millions of people throughout the world who are engaged presently in the social and political revolutions of our century.
In the struggle for survival that we and other freedom-loving peoples now face, it seems perfectly obvious that our major governmental and individual efforts must be directed toward making our respective countries and their, allied efforts as strong as possible.
The emphasis will be upon economic and military mobilization for an indefinite period, in my judgment, and it necessarily follows that to a substantial extent governmental efforts in the field of domestic social legislation will play a secondary role. I do not mean to suggest, however, that in the United States--and I do not refer to the situation in your country because I am not sufficiently informed; and it would in any case be inappropriate for me to do so--all efforts should or will be abandoned in the field of civil rights and social legislation at the Federal level.
We must recognize in my country that Communist propaganda is making effective use in various parts of the globe of our deficiencies in the matter of civil rights. This propaganda seeks to persuade the people of the so-called backward areas of the world, the millions upon millions of people striving for some semblance of economic security and individual rights, that the United States and other democracies are wholly insincere in their international relationships by reason of the fact that within their own borders some demonstrable injustices exist.
We in the United States therefore need to press forward insofar as we can during this indefinite period of high economic and military mobilization with our efforts to bring to fuller realization the basic tenets of the Constitution of my country. This is so, in my opinion, not only because the full enjoyment of individual rights needs to be made available to every citizen but also because I think it very important as a counter move to Communist propaganda and as a concrete demonstration to the millions who are subjected to that propaganda, of the fact that we as a freedom-loving nation practice at home what we preach abroad.
One of the foremost educators, statesmen and humanitarians of my country--ex-Senator Frank Graham of North Carolina, and former President of the University of North Carolina--has on many occasions expressed his abiding belief in the democratic ideal and important role which civic, business and educational institutions can play in attaining that ideal, not only for the people of the United States but for the peoples of the world. His faith in freedom has been a great source of inspiration to me. The closing words of the remarkable statement he made last November on the day he ceased to be a Senator of the United States, give added evidence of the fact that he thoroughly understands, brilliantly articulates and faithfully practices the basic tenets of democracy. Those words, directed primarily to his colleagues in the Senate and the people of the United States, are, I think, worth repeating here because they have universal applicability to any peoples that are not willing followers of imperialistic totalitarianism. He said this:
"We need always to emphasize that the international economic framework which girdles the globe with its dynamic power for weal or woe, and the international political structure of the United Nations organized to include all the nations of the earth for co-operation and peace, need the international spiritual communism, humane good will and love of people in the minds and hearts of the people who will, in spite of dictators, imperialists and militarists, yet find effective ways to make come true their hopes for freedom and peace. The idea and teaching of Jesus that we are all children of one God and brothers of all men, long rejected as unrealistic, has become, in the atomic age, the most practical and necessary idea of them all."
The struggle for peace, which is the major crisis of our generation, is a struggle for men's minds rather than for their emotions. It is a struggle for human decency rather than for human debauchery. It involves an appeal to reason. Peace can be won and maintained only if we can convince freedom-loving people elsewhere in the world that rules of reason, procedures of international justice, relinquishment of many selfish interests must be substituted in the thinking of people everywhere for the emotional nationalism that still dominates the world in spite of all our laudatory efforts to set up a system of international justice through law by way of the United Nations.
Every institution of enlightenment in North America, including the church, lodge, press, radio--every group where free men gather--should join forces in the struggle for peace. We cannot win the peace by wishing for it, nor by blaming the politicians because we do not have it, nor by adopting the fatalistic attitude that war is inevitable, nor by placing all the blame on our enemies in the war now gripping the world.
But while we must not abandon the struggle for peace nor go to the other extreme of adopting a fatalistic attitude that all-out war is inevitable, the freedom-loving nations must nevertheless build up their strength to the end that the dictators in the Kremlin may be persuaded to the view, before all-out war engulfs us, that Communist aggression must stop. I should therefore like to discuss the foreign policy issues that confront the members of the North Atlantic treaty organization, of which your country is such an outstanding member.
As you know, we are now engaged in the United States in the first round of an historic debate on foreign policy, the outcome of which will have tremendous and far-reaching consequences not only for us in the Western Hemisphere but for the entire world. Some two weeks ago the distinguished ex-President of the United States, Mr. Herbert Hoover, made a major speech in which he suggested that this continent should be made a "Gibralter of Western civilization" and that we in the United States should refrain from committing ground forces in the continent of Europe, but instead should rely upon the Air Force and the Navy and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for our defence against Communism.
Speaking only for myself, I would point out that comforting as such a head-in-the-sand attitude might be, and emotionally satisfying as that type of wishful thinking is, I would urge that the people of the United States carefully evaluate the clear import of such a policy. It seems to me that it is premised upon the idea that this continent can survive if we withdraw unto ourselves alone and let our Allies in Europe go down if necessary, if they do not do exactly what we wish them to do in the matter of implementing the North Atlantic Pact.
While there are same people in my country who would welcome a psychological escape, we nevertheless cannot escape psychologically or otherwise from the realities of the situation which confronts us. During two great crises in the United States, we rallied around the principle "United we stand, divided we fall" and I wish to plead with freedom-loving peoples everywhere to rally around that same principle, because if Europe goes down to Russia and Russia obtains the industrial war-making power of the Ruhr and the slave labor that her police-state methods will make available, Russia then will be in a position gradually to whittle us down here on the North American Continent, and, I think, finally subdue us. Because I think if Europe goes down to Russia, we would then be in for a 25-year-war and I can think of no military expert that can give us any assurance today that in that kind of war with Russia it is certain we would win.
We in the North Atlantic Pact must not overlook the fact that a great revolution is going on in the world. It is a revolution which probably will last for the next 100 years before the point of social and political equality will be reached which will permit of the successful operation of a system of international justice through law. It is a revolution of the coloured masses as well as the suppressed and exploited peoples of all colours in the world who are seeking a better way of life.
At the present time it is not a revolution primarily involving the competition of political ideologies. For the most part, the suppressed and exploited peoples are illiterate and uninformed, with little understanding of the distinctions between a system of political democracy and a system of Communist totalitarianism. These peoples are millions of human beings, for the most part motivated by their feelings and their instincts and desire to survive, and their recognition that they have a right as human beings to a better way of life. Inevitably, therefore, they will struggle and fight if necessary for food, shelter and clothing and security for their offspring.
That is one of the great realities of the time in which we live, and it is my fear that ex-President Hoover failed to give it sufficient consideration in his speech.
The revolution cannot be stopped because I think it is an inevitable part of the evolution of mankind itself. The peoples of all nations in the North Atlantic Pact who have attained substantial though not complete recognition of the rights of individuals in a democratic society have a tremendous stake in that revolution.
It is a stake so tremendous that I think the outcome of that revolution in the coming century will determine the destiny of the way of life you and I have enjoyed and still enjoy. If in the midst of that revolution we of the North Atlantic Pact nations indulge in a shortsighted policy and permit the totalitarian states to capitalize, by their adroit propaganda, upon any policy which supports the extension of colonialism or totalitarianism in the so-called backward areas of the world, I fear that at the end of that revolution we may find ourselves with the coloured races of the world aligned against us, rather than with us, and again the question of survival will be before us.
As they improve their standards of living and industrial power, it behooves us to be on the side of the coloured masses of the world and not arrayed against them. We must therefore take freedom to them and manifest it in the first place in the form of economic freedom.
An essential preliminary, in my mind, to bringing them to any understanding of the ways of democracy, is that some considerable attention must be paid to their empty stomachs. As I have said so often, that if my country had paid greater attention to, in the Chinese policy, the importance of bringing economic reform along with military aid to the Chinese people, we would find ourselves not in the predicament that we find ourselves in in China today, because I am not one who believes we can not lose a war against China: we can have great military successes, but in the long run we would lose a war because winning it would mean occupying China, and if we had paid greater attention to empty stomachs instead of storing thousands of tons of food in empty government bins, knowing that that food, 80% of it would spoil for human consumption before it was taken out, I say my government should have been emptying that food into empty stomachs in Asia. I say that, as a great Christian democracy, we have to bring into practice the principles of great Christian tenets if we are going to demonstrate to the world that we are a democracy in fact as well as in words. I think some of the problems that confront us in the emergency that confronts us now will go on for years to come, and I would have my government take greater cognizance of the economic needs of Asia. The next century the people of the United States will have to have a Point Four programme, no matter who sits in the White House: that is, we are going to have to have it if we are going to end up the century with coloured masses of the world on the side of freedom rather than on the side of totalitarianism.
That is the reason I have felt that the Point Four programme of my Government is important. It emphasizes the importance of bringing to the backward peoples of the world an improved economic status, a better way of life--It emphasizes, if you please, the importance of putting into practice the great Christian principle that we are our brother's keeper and that political democracy itself is bottomed upon and rests upon great religious tenets, all of which flow from the basic principle that a society of free men believes in protecting the dignity of the individual. To my way of thinking the very essence of democracy is this principle of protecting the dignity of the individual. The theory that the people are the masters and not the servants of the State is not a political platitude, but it is the great principle that will save democracy when it is actually put to practice.
What I am trying to say is that the people of the United States and freedom-loving peoples elsewhere must demonstrate to the other peoples of the world that we intend to practice our democratic principles, that we intend to translate into action our faith in the dignity of the individual, and that we intend to establish in the century of struggle ahead a system of international justice through law under which conflicts between nations can be settled through the process of adjudication rather than through a resort to arms.
VOTE OF THANKS, moved by Dean Cecil A. Wright, School of Law, University of Toronto.