By: The Commentator Editorial Board  | 

Green Light (Vol. 6, Issue 3)

Franklin D. Roosevelt has been re-elected. The cheering and the whistling have by now already abated. The jubilant crowds have long since ceased their raucous enthusiasm for the momentous bulletin that spelled victory for the Democratic party. They have already dispersed and had the benefit of several hours’ sleep. Now, then, let us see precisely what we have. The die is cast — let us see what it yields. 

Firstly, the closeness of the race and the comparatively equal division of the voting population between the two major candidates show quite conclusively the strength of the tradition against the third term in the mind of the masses of Americans. Had this not been a third term candidacy, the difference in popular backing would doubtless have been much more decisive. 

By the same token, however, the very critical emergency of the times must have prompted many temporarily to dismiss such a prejudice from their minds in favor of an expertly trained hand at the helm of the state. 

Thus the general approval of the foreign and domestic program of the incumbent administration should actually far exceed what the actual ballots indicate. 

The verdict of the people, then, and the approval implied in the circumstance of the election have given the New Deal what the President has termed “the vindication of the principles and policies on which we have fought this campaign.”

The voters have given the Administration the green light — the signal to go ahead. But, the road is strictly a one-way road. The preference is based mainly on past performance and it is the expectation of the continuance of this record that decided who should win.

The newly-constituted Congress will remember that the social and economic progress made during the last eight years has won the favor of the majority of the voters. The majority has expressed itself in favor of the farm program initiated under the New Deal; it has applauded the regulation of business by the people’s government and chiefly it has asked for the continued raising of the living standards of labor. And it is this particularly which will require most careful treatment.

… For, the temptation to undo some of the historic gains in behalf of labor in the interest of the seemingly greater enterprise of national defense will be great. Retreat from the advancements gained by maximum hour and minimum wage standards may to some appear expedient and necessary under the stress of the times and some might find an opportune moment to rescind these gains. 

But, the people have dictated the policy, and they have given their government but one mandate — that of going ahead on the road to a still better standard of living. 

The people have sanctioned the policy of helping the needy as it is incorporated in the institutions of social security, relief, unemployment insurance, NYA, CCC and their like. This, then, is to be the cue for the newly elected government. This is its mandate. This is its signal to proceed — its green light.