Carrying on our tradition of remembering Grandmother Laquedem, whose lifelong democratic socialist (sometimes lower case, sometimes with capitals) support of the working classes ended only with her death on Labor Day itself many years ago, we commemorate the day with a suitable reading. Today's reading comes from the Labor Day speech of Woodrow Wilson, then the Governor of New Jersey and a candidate for the presidency, on September 2, 1912.
Our usual jovial support of management and the capitalist classes will return tomorrow.
Very well then, when I speak to you today, I want you to regard me as a man who is talking business. I want in the first place to say that I shall be scrupulous to be fair to those with whom I am in opposition. Because there is a great deal to be said for the programs of hopeful men who intend to do things even if they haven’t struck upon the right way to do them. And we ought not to divorce ourselves in sympathy with men who want the right thing because we do not think they have found the way to do them.
I want to speak upon this occasion, of course, on the interests of the workingman, of the wage earner, not because I regard the wage earners of this country as a special class, for they are not. After you have made a catalogue of the wage earners of this country, how many of us are left? The wage earners of this country, in the broad sense, constitute the country. And the most fatal thing that we can do in politics is to imagine that we belong to a special class, and that we have an interest which isn’t the interest of the whole community. Half of the difficulties, half of the injustices of our politics have been due to the fact that men regarded themselves as having separate interests which they must serve even though other men were done a great disservice by their promoting them.
We are not afraid of those who pursue legitimate pursuits provided they link those pursuits in at every turn with the interest of the community as a whole; and no man can conduct a legitimate business, if he conducts it in the interest of a single class.