by Dick Williamson
Isn’t it astonishing how political views have evolved over the years. I’m reminded of a politician, a very liberal politician, who was a popular New York attorney in the 1930s,40s and 50s. I was just a lad but I remember him well.
Dean Alphange (1897-1989) was a WW I veteran, and graduated from Hamilton College in 1922 and Columbia Law School in 1925. A member of the American Labor Party, he lost the New York Governor’s race to Thomas E. Dewey in 1940. 1n 1944, he left the American Labor Party because of communist influences and helped found the Liberal Party of New York.
Alphange was appointed to various governmental posts by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He was a classic American Liberal in the best sense of the word.
In 1951, Alphange wrote a short piece in which he shared his ideas on what it meant to be an American. (He was born in Greece.) The piece was published by This Week Magazine and later reprinted in The Reader’s Digest. It is the most powerful illustration I have ever seen demonstrating how political views have gotten bent all out of shape - actually changed about 180 degrees.
The piece is simply called “My Creed,” and it goes like this:
I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon - if I can.
I seek opportunity, not security.
I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole.
I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence;
the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout.
I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid;
to think and act for myself,
to enjoy the benefit of my creation and to face the world boldly saying,
“This I have done.”
All this is what it means to be an American.
Alphange was a proud American Liberal and yet his philosophy today would be rejected by most Liberals while striking a familiar chord in the heart of most American Conservatives.
My, how times have changed!
Tags: American, American Labor Party, American Liberal, benefit, Columbia Law School, Dick Williamson, Greece, incentive, life, man, New York, New York Governor, Party, politician, President Franklin, Reader, right, security, Week Magazine, WW