Appendix Q. Speeches For Study And Practise. Part 6
We progressives mean that America shall answer them. The Progressive party is the helping hand to those whom a vicious industrialism has maimed and crippled. We are for the conservation of our natural resources; but even more we are for the conservation of human life. Our forests, water power and minerals are valuable and must be saved from the spoilers; but men, women and children are more valuable and they, too, must be saved from the spoilers.
Because women, as much as men, are a part of our economic and social life, women, as much as men, should have the voting power to solve all economic and social problems. Votes for women are theirs as a matter of natural right alone; votes for women should be theirs as a matter of political wisdom also. As wage-earners, they should help to solve the labor problem; as property owners they should help to solve the tax problem; as wives and mothers they should help to solve all the problems that concern the home. And that means all national problems; for the Nation abides at the fireside.
If it is said that women cannot help defend the Nation in time of war and therefore that they should not help to determine the Nation's destinies in time of peace, the answer is that women suffer and serve in time of conflict as much as men who carry muskets. And the deeper answer is that those who bear the Nation's soldiers are as much the Nation's defenders as their sons.
Public spokesmen for the invisible government say that many of our reforms are unconstitutional. The same kind of men said the same thing of every effort the Nation has made to end national abuses. But in every case, whether in the courts, at the ballot box, or on the battlefield, the vitality of the Constitution was vindicated.
The Progressive party believes that the Constitution is a living thing, growing with the people's growth, strengthening with the people's strength, aiding the people in their struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, permitting the people to meet all their needs as conditions change. The opposition believes that the Constitution is a dead form, holding back the people's growth, shackling the people's strength but giving a free hand to malign powers that prey upon the people. The first words of the Constitution are "We the people," and they declare that the Constitution's purpose is "to form a perfect Union and to promote the general welfare." To do just that is the very heart of the progressive cause.
The Progressive party asserts anew the vitality of the Constitution. We believe in the true doctrine of states' rights, which forbids the Nation from interfering with states' affairs, and also forbids the states from interfering with national affairs. The combined intelligence and composite conscience of the American people is as irresistible as it is righteous; and the Constitution does not prevent that force from working out the general welfare.
From certain sources we hear preachments about the danger of our reforms to American institutions. What is the purpose of American institutions? Why was this Republic established? What does the flag stand for? What do these things mean?
They mean that the people shall be free to correct human abuses.
They mean that men, women and children shall not be denied the opportunity to grow stronger and nobler.
They mean that the people shall have the power to make our land each day a better place to live in.
They mean the realities of liberty and not the academics of theory.
They mean the actual progress of the race in tangible items of daily living and not the theoretics of barren disputation.
If they do not mean these things they are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
A Nation of strong, upright men and women; a Nation of wholesome homes, realizing the best ideals; a Nation whose power is glorified by its justice and whose justice is the conscience of scores of millions of God-fearing people - that is the Nation the people need and want. And that is the Nation they shall have.
For never doubt that we Americans will make good the real meaning of our institutions. Never doubt that we will solve, in righteousness and wisdom, every vexing problem. Never doubt that in the end, the hand from above that leads us upward will prevail over the hand from below that drags us downward. Never doubt that we are indeed a Nation whose God is the Lord.
And, so, never doubt that a braver, fairer, cleaner America 6urelv will come; that a better and brighter life for all beneath the flag surely will be achieved. Those who now scoff soon will pray. Those who now doubt soon will believe.
Soon the night will pass; and when, to the Sentinel on the ramparts of Liberty the anxious ask: "Watchman, what of the night?" his answer will be "Lo, the morn appeareth."
Knowing the price we must pay, the sacrifice we must make, the burdens we must carry, the assaults we must endure - knowing full well the cost - yet we enlist, and we enlist for the war. For we know the justice of our cause, and we know, too, its certain triumph.
Not reluctantly then, but eagerly, not with faint hearts but strong, do we now advance upon the enemies of the people. For the call that comes to us is the call that came to our fathers. As they responded so shall we.
"He hath sounded forth a trumpet that shall never call retreat, He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. Oh, be swift our souls to answer Him, be jubilant our feet,
Our God is marching on."