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Jack Ranger

Big Business Makes Sound Investment in Stassen

Fact and Fancy in the Stassen Myth

(10 May 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 19, 10 May 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Several months ago, I ended an article in Labor Action on Harold Stassen by mentioning that, although James Farley had failed to mention Stassen among the top Republican contenders for the GOP nomination, Stassen just couldn’t be counted out.

“Throughout his career he has established the record of always making a much better race than advance notices indicated,” I wrote. “He has a faculty of tapping those hidden points of support among Big Business circles which carry a candidate to the top.”

I believe that the Stassen showing in the Wisconsin and Nebraska primaries bears this out. His total vote soared beyond the expected Stassen support. His Republican opponents charged that heavy money poured into those states turned the tide for Stassen.

There is not the shadow of a doubt but that a very large number of wealthy business men are making substantial contributions to Stassen’s campaign, because; they firmly believe that he – more than any other Presidential candidate – can best serve their class and personal interests.

Writing in the April 22 Chicago Journal of Commerce, Holmes Alexander said he had had “a quick peek at the list of his (Stassen’s) financial backers. Some of the names are secret and some are not. Suffice it to say that there are Vanderbilts, Whitneys, Cookes, steel men, automotive men, flour millers and heavy industrial equippers on the list.

“People with vast wealth and booming business,” wrote Alexander, “do not put their money on ‘soak the rich’ and ‘share the wealth’ politicians. They are even chary about putting their money on progressives – as the word is understood these days. Stassen has convinced these men – plus thousands of small businessmen – that his economic theories are sound.”

The Chicago Tribune, supporting Taft for the Republican nomination,has exposed the fact that a committee of nine of the biggest businessmen in Minnesota is sending letters throughout the business and political community of the nation, soliciting campaign funds up to $1,000 for Stassen. Among the nine are the chairmen of the boards of General Mills and Pillsbury Mills; the presidents of the Minnesota Valley Canning Co., the Minnesota & Ontario Paper Co., the Josten Manufacturing Co., the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., and the chairman of the board of Geo. A. Hormel & Co.

This group of industrialists has raised more than $250,000 of the more than $700,000 spent thus far by Stassen on his pre-convention campaigns,according to the Tribune.

A number of Minneapolis businessmen are touring the country, asking other businessmen to kick in to the Stassen fund. Unquestionably, the ex-Minnesota governor has made commitments to big business which satisfy them. But should such commitments satisfy those who are not millionaire bankers and industrialists?

The Stassen Myth

The myth that Stassen is a “liberal” continues on, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is carefully nurtured by the press monopoly – by the Luce, Cowles and Knight papers and others.

The record shows that he accepted support of the Silver Shirts in his Minnesota campaigns for governor. The record shows that his accomplishments in office were of an unmitigated reactionary nature; That he shoveled money to U.S. Steel by cutting the state tax on iron ore mined from the Mesabi Range; that he raised the legal interest on small loans from 8 per cent to 36 per cent; that he put through a vicious old-age pension plan that forced old people accepting relief to turn over all real property, including homesteads, to the state; that he put through the Stassen Slave Labor Law, forerunner of the Taft-Hartley law; that he broke up the liberal state department of education by forcing the resignation of John Rockwell; that he resisted all appeals for public housing, etc.

Currently, Stassen has come outwith an outrageous piece of fakery. Speaking recently in Toledo, where he is challenging Taft for some of Ohio’s votes, he told a Lions Club luncheon that “secret ballots for union men voting to strike, accept a contract, or name officers would be the best method of ending arbitrary control by some labor leaders.”

Some Stassen Fakery

Anyone might believe from this that Stassen thinks democracy is a good thing for the union movement. But when he was governor of Minnesota, he didn’t think so. In the fight between the Minneapolis General Drivers Union Local 544 and Dan Tobin, international president of the Teamsters Union, back in 1941, Local 544 sought time after time for an election so that the drivers could choose which union they wished to represent them. The Stassen Slave Labor Law made such an election mandatory if a majority among the workers signed cards specifying a union of their choice. Local 544-CIO several times presented such cards and petitions, signed by a majority of the Minneapolis drivers. Yet Stassen’s labor conciliator, acting on orders from the governor, certified Tobin’s union as bargaining agent for the entire Minneapolis trucking industry without an election.

Stassen in his current campaign is double-dealing, as he always has – talking one line and following another. Slippery as ever, he is a butter man in the dairy states, an oleo man in the vegetable oil states. He is critical of the Taft-Hartley law in the industrial states, and a crush-labor man before industrialists and bankers.

In return for his aid in breaking the power of the Trotskyists in the Minneapolis labor movement, the officials of the Minnesota State Federation of Labor and the Stalinists supported Stassen in the 1942 state elections. I see that the AFL state labor officials in Minnesota have finally turned on Stassen, and are denouncing him weekly, in the St. Paul Union Advocate. A politician too far to the right for those birds is really “right.”

Yet, who do these labor bureaucrats have to nominate for President? They haven’t dared come out for Truman. They denounced Wallace for the wrong reasons. And they won’t permit the formation of a labor party to take the place of the Farmer-Labor Party which they helped so much to scuttle. That is the tragedy of the 1948 campaign.

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