Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Courageous Senator Robert Taft

Son of a President and great Chief Justice, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio exuded the value of humble justice in his life. Of self-made noble blood, living childhood partly in the Phillipines, Japan, and other Asian outposts, Taft was a level headed gentleman who lived the common life. His fight for Liberty in his congressional work as well as his 1948 and 1952 Presidential campaigns crystallized his place in history. As one of the old school, a left-over Patriot exalting the U.S. Constitution's guidelines for accountable government and public well-being.

Here are a series of quotations from Bob Taft, in an anticipatory 1950 biography by Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, A Man of Courage.

"Liberty is freedom of speech and of the press ... but it is much more. It is the freedom of the individual to choose his own work and his life occupation, to spend his earnings as he desires to spend them, to choose the place where he desires to live, to take the job that fits him whether some union official is willing that he gets it or not. It is the freedom of the local community to work out its own salvation when it has the power to do so." (134)

"In the tendency to rely on Government to cure every ill, we stand in danger of depriving People of initiative, of thinking power, and ultimately of happiness." (137)

"The whole trouble with the New Dealers is that they believe that whatever they desire the Court should hold to be constitutional. They do not care what happens to the fundamental principles on which this nation was founded. Most of them would be willing to abolish the States and turn over all local government to Federal control. All of them favor the delegation of legislative power to the President and seem to forget that this was the first step in the growth of autocracy in Germany and Italy." (135)

"I am not willing to vote for a measure which provides that the President may be a dictator. It offends not only the Constitution, but every basic principle for which the American Republic was established." (328)

-on President Truman's proposal to draft laborers into a nationalized steel industry

"The policy of meddling is one which is rapidly changing the whole nature of our Government. It is one which will destroy the independence of the States, the independence of the Courts, and the independence of Congress. It is one which will destroy local government adn the rights of individuals to live their own life." (148)

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