Commentary Magazine


Liberals and Others

To the Editor:

Of the several inaccuracies in “New York Politics and the Liberal Party” by Bernard Rosenberg [February], the following warrant correction:

  1. The implication that the Liberal party took no stand on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom last August until the President did so is unfounded and actually contrary to fact. Ben Davidson, executive director of the Liberal party, attended one of the original planning meetings for this event. The leaders of the march laid down the policy of not having political parties participate as such and of not publicizing participation by their members. Nevertheless, the Liberal party organized a train-load of its members, including the undersigned, bearing no identification and, unlike other delegations noted, claiming no credit for their participation. And this was in addition to the thousands of Liberals who marched with their trade union delegations.
  2. It is absurd to state that was “rapped on the knuckles” in the Reverend Donald Harrington the party’s official publication for his views on disarmament. His views were presented as one part of a “Dialogue on Disarmament,” both parts of which carried equal weight. The purpose of the dialogue section of Liberal News is to present varying views on major issues being discussed by Liberals.
  3. The Reverend Harrington is but one of many “notable additions to the Liberal ranks” in the last ten years from the intellectual world, such as Dr. John C. Bennett, president of the Union Theological Seminary; Professor Henry David, former president of the New School; Rabbi Edward Klein of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue; Professor Clarence Senior of Brooklyn College, a member of the New York City Board of Education; and scores of faculty members of the city universities as well as the great academies throughout the city and state. Adolf Berle and Reinhold Niebuhr remain, of course, Liberals. How many men of such stature appear in a lifetime, let alone in the twenty-year history of a political party?
  4. While the needle trades continue as a major Liberal base, the author fails to note the affiliation with the Liberal Party Trade Union Council of such major progressive industrial unions as the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (I.U.E.); the Shoe Workers Union; locals of the United Automobile Workers and the Seafarers; along with District 65, Retail, Wholesale Department Store Workers and many smaller groups currently engaged in a drive to win over one-half million (500,000) votes on the Liberal line in 1964. This may well be the “acid test” for the Liberal party, rather than the hypothetical 1965 mayoralty race envisioned by the author.

Philip Finkelstein Editor
Liberal News
New York City

_____________

 

To the Editor:

I found the article by Bernard Rosenberg most informative. Mr. Rosenberg’s recognition of the status the Conservative party of New York State has achieved as a result of “a surprisingly big vote for its gubernatorial candidate in the 1962 election,” resulting in a permanent place on the New York ballot, lent balance and depth to his comments. As your readers may be aware, the total Conservative party vote in the fifty-seven counties outside New York City exceeded the Liberal party vote in that area on both the gubernatorial and senatorial lines . . .

If I may be permitted a quibble, Professor Rosenberg dealt for several paragraphs with supposed efforts by the Liberal party to enlist Wendell Willkie as a Fusion mayoralty candidate in New York City in 1945 as a springboard for a national political movement, efforts which continued “even after Roosevelt died.” Wendell Willkie died October 8, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945. It is doubtful that Mr. Willkie played an important role in the political plans formulated by the Liberal party in the first half of 1945.

J. Daniel Mahoney State Chairman
Conservative Party of New York State
New York City

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