The Reorganisation Bill was rejected by Congress this week, more than a hundred Democrats (the President's party) turning against him. The chief purpose of the Bill was to rationalise the administration and to lessen the " spoils " system. That system allows a large number of smaller government positions to be given to party men, thus giving party leaders and therefore Congress considerable power to help their friends and supporters and keeping the administrative machinery in a constant state of disorder and uncertainty. In Britain the spoils system was given up long ago.
Roosevelt Trying to be Dictator
The thought of President Roosevelt battling against human and political venality was too much, apparently, for Fr. Cough lin. Silent since his great defeat at the Presidential Elections and the frowns of ecclesiastical authorities, he saw his chance of defeating the enemy again. His cry is " Roosevelt is trying to be a dictator."
" The spoils will now go to the President. Already there are well over a million tackles depending upon the New Deal government for their positions. If Mr. Roosevelt's bill should be accepted by Congress it would mean that the President of the United States could perpetuate himself, his son James and his New Deal party in power."
From the pages of that sumptuously produced paper of his Social Justice and from the Shrine of the Little Flower he has written and spoken and planned Roosevelt's defeat. He has succeeded.
Like George VI
What does Father Coughlin want? No less than a major constitutional revolution in which the President will have the power of the King in England! America must have an English Constitution.
It is our belief that the powers of the President should be shorn; that he should stand aloof from all political parties; that he should be elected for a term of four years and hold an office similar to that enjoyed by the King of England, or the President of France, or the GovernorGeneral of Canada; that a new office similar to that filled by the Premier of England, the Premier of Canada, the Premier of France should be instituted in America and that this office be held by the head of a political party; that a political party and its head should remain in office no longer than they are supported by a majority of Congressmen."
One shudders to think of the American political machines with their long history of graft and enslaving of public opinion controlling the executive as well as the legislative. French democracy would not be in it. But Fr. Coughlin prefers to take this risk rather than put any further possible power in the hands of President Roosevelt.
While Catholic opinion in Europe is rapidly veering away from the party systern with its irresponsibility and turning to the idea of responsible and personal leadership, the most powerful Catholic cleric in the political field defends the favoured system of theliberal 19th century.