Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
September 14, 1960
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
But first, I would like to say what I understand the word “Liberal” to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a “Liberal,” and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.
In short, having set forth my view — I hope for all time — two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:
I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.
I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.
Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.
Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world’s history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.
Tonight we salute Governor and Senator Herbert Lehman as a symbol of that spirit, and as a reminder that the fight for full constitutional rights for all Americans is a fight that must be carried on in 1961.
Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by longing for education for their children and for the children’s development. They went to night schools; they built their own future, their union’s future, and their country’s future, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their children’s time, suburb by suburb.
Tonight we salute George Meany as a symbol of that struggle and as a reminder that the fight to eliminate poverty and human exploitation is a fight that goes on in our day. But in 1960 the cause of liberalism cannot content itself with carrying on the fight for human justice and economic liberalism here at home. For here and around the world the fear of war hangs over us every morning and every night. It lies, expressed or silent, in the minds of every American. We cannot banish it by repeating that we are economically first or that we are militarily first, for saying so doesn’t make it so. More will be needed than goodwill missions or talking back to Soviet politicians or increasing the tempo of the arms race. More will be needed than good intentions, for we know where that paving leads.
In Winston Churchill’s words, “We cannot escape our dangers by recoiling from them. We dare not pretend such dangers do not exist.”
And tonight we salute Adlai Stevenson as an eloquent spokesman for the effort to achieve an intelligent foreign policy. Our opponents would like the people to believe that in a time of danger it would be hazardous to change the administration that has brought us to this time of danger. I think it would be hazardous not to change. I think it would be hazardous to continue four more years of stagnation and indifference here at home and abroad, of starving the underpinnings of our national power, including not only our defense but our image abroad as a friend.
This is an important election — in many ways as important as any this century — and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope.
I think it is our task to re-create the same atmosphere in our own time. Our national elections have often proved to be the turning point in the course of our country. I am proposing that 1960 be another turning point in the history of the great Republic.
Some pundits are saying it’s 1928 all over again. I say it’s 1932 all over again. I say this is the great opportunity that we will have in our time to move our people and this country and the people of the free world beyond the new frontiers of the 1960s.
Britain’s Independent reported on June 21 that the London version of the International Policy Network closed its doors. The group was known for its anti-environmental protection, anti-science, pro-rapacious development stands.
Alas, the U.S. version clings on.
The International Policy Network, once the most persuasive and active think tanks campaigning against climate change science, has disbanded in the UK after what appears to be a spilt between its leading members.
A document released following a Freedom of Information request shows that the charity’ s chairwoman Linda Whetstone and her brother Michael Fisher held a private meeting in which they agreed to abandon the name of IPN UK after more than a decade. The meeting, held by telephone in November 2010, was perfectly within the charity’s rules.
The minutes of the meeting, which cover a single side of an A4 sheet of paper, were obtained by The Independent this week and reveal that Whetstone also resigned from the board of the International Policy Network in the United States, despite being a leading member of the organisation.
This newspaper has also confirmed that Professor Julian Morris, the founding director of the IPN in the UK and then president, is no longer working for the sister organisation in the US where he was earning $137,000. He is now vice president for research at a rival think tank, the Reason Foundation.
Professor Morris, after speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, June 15 being held by a new think tank called the Legatum Institute, said: “The IPN is scaling down. There were two organisations, the IPN US Inc and IPN UK and now the two organisations are pursuing independent paths.”
Asked whether the IPN had split over climate change, he added: “It is a long and complex story. It is what it is. I can see where you’re going with this.”
I wish I were so omniscient. I wonder where Morris thought that line of questioning was going?
The Independent summarized some of the less savory parts of the funding issues for the organization (John Mashey surely knows all this):
The closure of the free market IPN follows years of controversy about Exxon funding, alleged links to the tobacco industry and contested claims about AIDs and the pesticide DDT.
It is possible, however, that the closure may be linked to family connections involving David Cameron that meant IPN could no longer exist as a major force of climate denial.
Whetstone is the mother-in-law of Steve Hilton, who is the director of strategy for the prime minister and was godfather to his son Ivan. Hilton is the man who persuaded the Conservative leader to adopt a robust stance on climate change and hug Huskies on the Norwegian glacier to illustrate his commitment.
Hilton’s wife, Rachel Whetstone, is a vice president at Google for communications, which has donated millions to climate change causes, including creating 21 Google Science Communication Fellows.
Linda Whetstone and her brother Michael, the trustees present at the private meeting, are the children of Sir Anthony Fisher who was an ideological disciple and former student of the father of neoliberalism, Friedrich Hayek. Fisher senior masterminded the global network of neoliberal think tanks, including setting up more than 150 organisations himself.
IPN was home to unlikely and highly-questionable science claims, and a refuge for cranks like Roger Bate, whom readers of this blog will recognize from the DDT and Rachel Carson hoax propaganda.
The launch of the International Policy Network’s first publication Adapt or Die was reported in November 2004. The charity claimed climate change was a myth, that sea levels were not rising and that global warming would benefit humans by increasing fish stocks.
At that time Dr Roger Bate was also a director of the IPN. Morris and Bate were both named in a letter asking the tobacco company RJ Reynolds for £50,000 in funding for a book about the “myth of scientific risk assessment” which would deny the effects of passive smoking.
Morris denied involvement, but a book titled What Risk? edited by Bate was later produced in which Bate acknowledged Morris for his support.
The IPN name soon became associated with ExxonMobil after the American oil giant revealed in its own publications that it granted almost £250,000 ($400,000) to the IPN in the US between 2003 and 2006. An examination of IPN UK accounts registered at Companies House revealed that from 2003 to 2005 the US think tank in turn granted £204,379 to the IPN in London.
Exxon stopped funding the IPN following a letter in 2006 from Bob Ward who was then at the Royal Society calling on the world’ s largest seller of fossil fuel to stop funding organisations that were actively spreading misinformation about the science of human forced climate change. Ward is now at the Grantham Institute at the LSE in London.
An IPN statement at the time said: “The implication that IPN is somehow being funded by Exxon to promote ‘climate change denial’ (per the Guardian’s salacious headline) is preposterous nonsense. IPN’s founder and executive director, Julian Morris, has personally been involved in the climate change debate since writing his undergraduate thesis on the subject in 1992 and neither his views nor those of IPN have ever been influenced by any financial contributor.”
It is nothing but good news when such a cloud over the bright sunshine of good science, good information, and good policy, goes out of business. One may wish there were more good news in store, or that more of the denialist groups would follow the example.
The good a non-profit may do oft dies with its disincorporation papers and is buried in some musty, dusty archive. The evil such groups do lives on long after — sometimes propogated, zombie-like, in other organizations.
Until its dissolution the IPN has been central to the climate change denial machine. While receiving funding from Exxon, the organisation launched Adapt or Die in Washington in 2004 and published two further climate change books in time for the COP-10 meeting held that year in Argentina.
The IPN also attended the inquiry into the economics of climate change held by the House of Lords economic affairs committee, which was attended by Lord Lawson. Lawson claims in his book, Memoirs of a Tory Radical, that he began to question the science of climate change during the hearings. He would then go on to form the sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation.
The think tank also established and launched the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change which, it claims, included 40 other organisations around the world. The IPN then “ coordinated participation of CSCCC members” at the UN climate meeting in Bali in 2008, distributing hundreds of copies of its report to delegates, participants and journalists for free.
The IPN was launched when the UK charity Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which was founded in July 1971, became part of the international network. During its existence the London office of the think tank raised more than £2.5million from donors. The organisation will continue in some form under the name Network for a Free Society.
Despite repeated attempts to contact her Linda Whetstone was unavailable for comment.
Against damaging climate change, we needed to start major pollution clean-up efforts two or three years ago. IPN’s legacy may yet lie in the destruction yet to be done to to the human race by the harmful effects of uncontrolled, and perhaps, now uncontrollable climate change. IPN shares some of the blame for the lack of anti-pollution action at the Copenhagen conference at the end of 2009, and for the lack of other coordinated international work to control pollution since then.
One of our very good art teachers at Moises Molina High School, William Adkins, works with a group called Big Thoughts. Big Thoughts interviews teachers who work with the program about how arts education boosts student achievement in core areas, and how to leverage arts to improve the boost. Adkins had some thoughts about how art really is a core part of education , and on the role of administrators in helping teachers:
Adkins’ students regularly win awards, often outperforming the many more students at our district’s arts magnets. One of his students, Moses Ochieng, too the top prize at the state art meet this year for a brilliant sculpture he did. Moses was my student in U.S. history, too — a great adventure, since he emigrated from Kenya just a few years ago, and he lacks the familiarity with so many American things that we, and the textbooks, and the state tests, take for granted that students know. Ochieng’s art helped focus him on history. It supplemented his studies so that he picked up two years of history work in just one year.
Delightful little feature at Arizona Central (azcentral.com), “AZ Fact Check ’11, Keeping Arizona honest” — Arizona Central is a feature of the Arizona Republic, as I recall (somebody correct me if I err).
I’ve noted before that Abraham Lincoln gets credit for a lot of things he didn’t say. AZ Fact Check ’11 corrected an Arizona State Senator on attributing to Lincoln a quote against helping people do things they should be doing for themselves. It’s another case of Twitter getting an elected official in trouble (not a lot of trouble, though, really).
The issue: Whether senator correctly quoted Lincoln
by Alia Beard Rau – June 22, 2011, 11:23 am
What we’re looking at
Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, tweeted a quote that he credited to President Abraham Lincoln.
“Abe Lincoln: ‘You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.’ We need to learn from this.”
Posted on Melvin’s Twitter account June 21.
Melvin on June 21 posted several quotes to his Twitter account relating to encouraging individuals to help themselves rather than giving them handouts. He attributed the quotes to Abraham Lincoln.
And Melvin isn’t alone. Others, including President Ronald Reagan, attributed these same quotes to Lincoln.
But according to several books, articles and the website Snopes that deals with debunking urban legends, Lincoln never said the quote.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger addressed the issue in a Washington Post column that ran Sept. 6, 1992.
“. . . in his Houston speech to the Republican National Convention, Ronald Reagan fell for one of the great hoaxes of American history, surpassed in taking people in only by H.L. Mencken`s enchanting fable about Millard Fillmore’s installing the first bathtub in the White House,” Schlesinger wrote. “The author of the less than immortal words Lincoln never said was an ex-clergyman from Erie, Pa., named William J.H. Boetcker.”
Boetcker in 1916 and 1917 produced two booklets based on lectures he gave. The quotes, including the one Melvin cites, are in those booklets.
According to Schlesinger, a conservative group in 1942 put out a leaflet titled “Lincoln on Limitation.” It listed legitimate Lincoln quotes on one side and legitimate Boetcker quotes on the other. Some versions attributed Boetcker’s quotes to Boetcker while others did not, leaving some readers to assume all were from Lincoln.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the quotes were mentioned or printed by increasingly legitimate sources and credited to Lincoln.
“Ever since, Lincoln scholars have been busy swatting the fake quotes down,” Schlesinger wrote. “In the 1960s, the Republican National Committee even warned its speakers, ‘Do not use them as Lincoln’s words!’ but to no avail.”
Bottom line: Historians appear to agree that Lincoln never said the quote that Melvin attributed to Lincoln. The quote was from William J.H. Boetcker.
- “Great Hoax Of History: Words Lincoln Never Said,” Washington Post, Sept. 6, 1992
- “Prosperity Disparity,” Snopes.com
- “REPUBLICANS IN HOUSTON: For the Record; Reagan Put Words in Lincoln’s Mouth,” New York Times, Aug. 19, 1992
- “The Right’s Library of Fake Quotes: Putting words in dead people’s mouths,” FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
- Melvin’s tweet about Abraham Lincoln
They got me at that part where they listed sources with links. What a great little feature!
Nota bene: I failed to see this notice at that site: “Fact Check is a service of The Arizona Republic, 12 News and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. It is not affiliated with www.FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.”