Not since Abraham Lincoln has the need for effective leadership and prompt, vigorous action been more imperative.
With the adjournment of Congress we may pause for a moment to review the remarkable record of Mr. Roosevelt, who in less than four months in office has to his credit a larger and better-rounded program of legislation than any other President in this century has obtained in four years. Not only has he obtained all the major legislation which he sought, including much which is experimental and drastic, but— with the exception of a slight compromise in regard to benefits to veterans —he has been able to get his measures enacted practically as he presented them. In doing this Mr. Roosevelt has been vastly assisted by circumstance. After four years of disastrous drift under Herbert Hoover, the nation realized itself to be desperately in need of action, and Mr. Roosevelt correctly interpreted his overwhelming electoral majority as a mandate from the people to inaugurate almost any policy which he thought fit within the framework of existing government and without scrapping the profit system in industry. But though greatly aided by circumstance, Mr. Roosevelt must receive full credit for the prompt, adroit, vigorous way in which he used and dominated popular psychology. Immense power was granted to him by the people almost on a non-partisan basis— provided he used it at once. He showed great ability in capitalizing the moment. But so far the President has won only the first heat in the race. The real contest lies ahead. Except for emergency action in regard to the banks and a start toward organizing the forestry corps, Mr. Roosevelt’s program is still almost entirely on paper. Will he be able to vitalize it so as substantially to revive industry, and if so, will the revival have the elements of permanence or be only a wan smile before industry sinks again into coma? Rather than try to answer directly either of those questions, perhaps it is more profitable to consider what the program as a whole aims at and by what means President Roosevelt hopes to realize it.
Elsewhere in this issue we present a summary of the more important legislation passed at the recent session of Congress and a special editorial discussion of the National Industrial Recovery Act, which is the keystone of the structure. Of the program as a whole, it may be said here that it abandons openly what in fact we have, without admitting it, been bit by bit abandoning for years—the theoretical policy of keeping government out of business. Federal control of business has now frankly been assumed in many new directions, but it is only temporary in character and does not envisage socialization of industry or elimination of the profit system. The emphasis is all on reviving industry, which manifestly cannot function without some assistance. Any benefit to the worker must trickle down from the top, which is no profound change from what we have had.