Title: Speech on Behalf of President Hoover for Re-election
Date: November 7, 1932
Location: Northampton, MA
Context: Coolidge delivers a radio address on behalf of Hoover explaining why the then-President was the best candidate for re-election in 1932.
My fellow citizens:
The campaign for the election of all the members of the House and one-third of the members of the Senate, exclusive of vacancies, of the National Congress and of the President of the United States is drawing to a close. For months now you have listened to appeals of various candidates and their supporters, you have read campaign literature and newspaper articles setting forth the claims and expounding the platforms of the political parties asking for your votes.
Such a nation-wide campaign requires the expenditure of a great deal of effort and money which the importance of the event fully justifies. It is a course of education which we all need to take to qualify ourselves to cast an intelligent ballot. We not only need such a public review of the record of our officeholders and their conduct of our government once in four years, but it is highly desirable that we give careful consideration to the proposals that are made by all candidates for the preservation of our liberties, the promotion of our general welfare and the conscientious discharge of our individual duties as citizens of this great Republic.
Our institutions are founded upon the deepest faith in the common sense and integrity of the great body of our citizens. You have been given the high privilege of self-government, not only that we might protect ourselves, but that we might support and protect our country and do justice to our fellow-citizens. Persons with ballots in their hands are endowed with arbitrary and unlimited power. Unless that power is exercised wisely and intelligently, it will result not only in their own destruction but in the destruction of their fellow-countrymen, and in a country so vast and important as the United States the evil effects would be world-wide.
Since the franchise confers upon us all the responsibility of a public trusteeship for the promotion of the general welfare of all the people, it is evident that we have before us two duties to perform.
Our first duty is to determine by investigation and self-education what the public welfare requires. That process has been going on for many weeks. It needs careful thought and study.
The business of the United States Government is very intricate and involved. It cannot be brought within the comprehension of a single address, or begin to be understood without long contemplation. Very few could claim to understand it in its entirety and many of us have time only to consider its broader outlines. We have to entrust ourselves somewhat to expert leaders. It is the same common-sense process that we employ in our everyday lives.
If we want something done which we have neither the time nor the skill to do ourselves, we pick out the best informed persons that we can find in that particular line, and employ them to do it for us. It is because of this method which characterizes an advanced civilization that we have professional men and women who by their studies and experience have qualified themselves to solve certain problems for us, whether they involve our health, our business or our legal rights.
We may know little about medicine, or banking, or law, but fortunately all of us have a highly accurate judgment concerning the ability and character of our fellow citizens. We know whom we can trust to serve us faithfully in meeting any difficulty in which we are involved. That is why representative government can be a success.
Now, the administration of high public office is just as much a profession, needing just as much training, skill and experience, as any of the learned professions of law, medicine or theology. The public cannot be deceived for long in their estimate of candidates. They can tell very quickly who are candid, sincere and conscientious in the discharge of public office and in the appeal which they make to the voters in support.
But all the effort and expense involved in a campaign of education and all the thought and study of the voter would be of little avail unless it is put into practical operation by casting a ballot on election day. That is the second great duty of citizens.
They can be sure that every person with a selfish interest and every person filled with prejudice or misconceived resentment will not fail to vote, but if self-government is to be a success it will be solely because the people of judgment and discretion, who put the welfare of their country first, who want to see it well conducted, register their mature second thought at the polls. In no other way is it possible to secure the benefit of sound common sense of the nation. Without the support of the people of that type there would be no such thing as public integrity.
In this campaign we have heard a great deal of discussion about our material welfare. That is natural and proper because the prosperity of the people is always important, but there are other things which are even more important.
Those that signed the Declaration of Independence pledged their fortunes, their lives and their sacred honor to the defense of certain principles of human relationship. Those who saved our Federal Union from destruction did so because they believed that freedom and justice were of more value than money. Those who offered all our man power and wealth on the altar of our country for the preservation and advancement of world liberty were seeking for something higher than material gains.
No great question has ever been decided by the people of this nation on the sole basis of dollars and cents. When the American people make a major decision like the election of a President they do not offer themselves to the highest bidder but seek to determine conscientiously what justice and true patriotism require them to do.
In all our history we have never deserted our President because we were not making money. We have always stood by him in a crisis, with little regard for party preference.
It seems to be time for us to apply these simple common-sense principles of everyday life so easily understood, which, after all, are adequate to show us our duties, protect our liberties and provide us with sound government.
Most of us believe thoroughly in our long-established and unusually successful American institutions. We want them preserved and we want to do what is best for our country. We must choose some one to lead us and stand at the head of our national government.
The world has been going through the greatest economic crisis in all history. We may be somewhat confused by the discussion of the tariff, reconstruction, farm relief, care of the unemployed, deflation, the gold standard and many other issues that have come into the campaign. Who is the man we can most safely trust to solve these problems for us?
Our situation is too serious for us to consider employing a personal favorite or any one because he smiles at us and entertains us. We must have some one who can work for us, some one who knows how. We know we cannot have perfection in this world, but we want the best we can get. Promises and good intentions are not enough. We cannot afford rash experiments.
When the times have called for a man some one has stood forth. Such is the case now.
For nearly twenty years our President; Herbert Hoover, has been serving our country and the world. Measured by accomplishments, he holds commanding rank. If five Americans were to be selected today to devise remedies for the present condition of the nation, Herbert Hoover would head the list. The name of no other Presidential candidate would be considered. If ten international figures were to be selected today to devise remedies for the present condition of the world, Herbert Hoover would be one of them. The name of no other Presidential candidate would be considered.
Can there be any doubt where our interests and our duties lie? We need to continue President Hoover in office because at all times he will safeguard our institutions. No other candidate proposes to do that.
We need President Hoover because he has demonstrated by his acts and public statements that he has a clear understanding of the present economic conditions and has put into operation a program and made explicit proposals for relief which are already in successful operation. No other candidate has done that.
We need President Hoover because, as the great exponent of public integrity, he has the faith and courage to meet every question squarely without evasion. No other candidate does that.
All the teachings of common sense require us to re-elect President Hoover.
It was natural at the outset of this campaign for some people who had not studied the situation to hope that some critic of President Hoover might show them a short and easy way out of the present world difficulties. They now know that no one has and no one can show any such way.
We shall recover by the long, slow process of working, saving and paying our debts. Meantime we shall do what we can to relieve want, protect public and private credit, encourage industry and agriculture and cooperate in the re-establishment of the normal flow of trade. That is the policy of President Hoover.
As the campaign has progressed, people have become more and more convinced that he is right. The vagueness and weakness of the proposals and claims of the opposition have become more and more apparent as the strength and soundness of what President Hoover has done and proposed have been revealed. The more we have learned of his record in office, the more we have realized his grasp of affairs, the stronger has become our determination to support him for re-election.
I have taken this opportunity to speak because I want my countrymen to know what I think ought to be done. From what I know of the requirements of the Presidential office, I have no hesitation in saying President Hoover should be retained for the good of our country and the world.
It is not the spirit of the American people when the captain of their ship has guided them through a storm and is approaching a safe harbor to discharge him and then claim that he created the storm. Nor are they accustomed to disregard their duties and repudiate their obligations.
Their courage is too great, their moral fiber is too strong to follow those who seek to tempt them with any such suggestions. From my knowledge of President Hoover, after sitting at the Cabinet table with him for eight years, after considering the difficulties he has encountered and the policies he has proposed, I believe that he is the best man for us to entrust with the Presidency in this great emergency.
Citation: The New York Times, November 7, 1932.