January 2, 1939
“Harold E. Stassen takes office as the state’s 25th governor. At the age of 31, Stassen was the youngest governor in the state’s history. He goes on to be re-elected governor in 1940 and again in 1942. Four months into his third term Stassen resigns and enlists in the Navy (April 27, 1943).” *
Governor Stassen was raised as a Republican in Saint Paul, Minnesota in the early 20th century. This city had a bifurcated population of laborers from predominantly Catholic regions of Europe, and business owners often with a Protestant work ethic. Perhaps this dichotomy helps explain why he had empathy for laborers, and had awareness of crime and civic corruption? He gained his law degree at the University of Minnesota graduating in 1929, and was ready to battle injustice. **
Soon thereafter, he found a home in the Progressive political platform of Theodore Roosevelt founded ca. 1912. For clarity’s sake, the Progressive Party was founded:
“To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.” ***
To that end, the platform called for:
Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions
Registration of lobbyists
Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
In the social sphere, the platform called for:
A national health service to include all existing government medical agencies.
Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
Limited the ability of judges to order injunctions to limit labor strikes.
A minimum wage law for women
An eight-hour workday
A federal securities commission
Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries
An inheritance tax
The political reforms proposed included:
Direct election of Senators
Primary elections for state and federal nominations
Easier amending of the United States Constitution
The platform also urged states to adopt measures for “direct democracy”, including:
The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote)’**** Ibid.
Stassen adapted and simplified this platform to suit the specific needs of Minnesota. Again, his overarching goal was to rid the Minnesota’s government of corruption and cronyism. His secondary goals were to: reform all positions of civil service, create better relationships with labor, provide for the public’s welfare, and restructure the government to make it work more efficiently.
Shall we pray? G-d of All Justice, we remember gratefully that You are perfect in authority, unchangeable, and incorruptible! What comfort to know that You offer wisdom and discernment so freely to those who humbly bow and ask! We remember today that our Messiah laid down his life, spilling His blood to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant, and rising again to conclusively prove that He is “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”!
We recognize, along with Governor Stassen, that we have broken faith with You in the acceptance of corruption and cronyism of his era. We have bent the laws of Minnesota for our gain, and have inwardly failed to love You or Your Laws. Will You forgive us our enticement to bow to the idols of nepotism, parti pris, and partisanship? We have seen evils, and have agreed with our enemy to “look the other way” and “just play ball”! Have mercy.
Will You bless and keep the heritage of Harold Stassen? Will You give us civic leaders who are immune to the diseases of lobbyists? Will You give us lobbyists who love Your laws? Will You give grace to our leaders of government, finance, business, and industries? Though they have the power to force the changes of laws they desire, may they foster changes in law within the framework of persuasive wisdom and humility. May we progress towards chesed!
*** Patricia OToole (June 25, 2006). “”The War of 1912,” Time in partnership with CNN, Jun. 25, 2006″. Time.com. Retrieved January 6, 2012.