Democratic Party Platform of 1956


VIII. Government Operations

The Democratic Party pledges that it will return the administration of our National Government to a sound, efficient, and honest basis.

Civil Service and Federal Employee Relations.

The Eisenhower Administration has failed eitherto understand or trust the Federal employee. Its record in personnel management constitutes a grave indictment of policies reflecting prejudices and excessive partisanship to the detriment of employee morale.

Intelligent and sympathetic programs must be immediately undertaken to insure the re-establishment of the high morale and efficiency which were characteristic of the Federal worker during 20 years of Democratic Administrations.

To accomplish these objectives, we propose:

(1) Protection and extension of the merit system through the enactment of laws to specify the rights and responsibilities of workers;

(2) A more independent Civil Service Commission in order that it may provide the intelligent leadership essential in perfecting a proper Civil Service System;

(3) Promotion within the Federal Service under laws assuring advancement on merit and proven ability;

(4) Salary increases of a nature that will insure a truly competitive scale at all levels of employment;

(5) Recognition by law of the right of employee organizations to represent their members and to participate in the formulation and improvement of personnel policies and practices; and

(6) A fair and non-political loyalty program, by law, which will protect the Nation against subversion and the employee against unjust and un-American treatment.

Restoring the Efficiency of the Postal Service.

The bungling policies of the Republican Administration have crippled and impaired the morale, efficiency and reputation of the U. S. Postal Service. Mail carriers and clerks and other Postal employees are compelled to work under intolerable conditions. Communication by mail and service by parcel post have been delayed and retarded with resulting hardships, business losses and inconveniences. A false concept of economy has impaired seriously the efficiency of the best communication system in the world.

We pledge ourselves to programs which will:

(1) Restore the principle that the Postal Service is a public service to be operated in the interest of improved business economy and better communication, as well as an aid to the dissemination of information and intelligence;

(2) Restore Postal employee morale through the strengthening of the merit system, with promotions by law rather than caprice or partisan politics, and payment of realistic salaries reflecting the benefits of an expanded economy;

(3) Establish a program of research and development on a scale adequate to insure the most modern and efficient handling of the mails; and

(4) Undertake modernization and construction of desperately needed Postal facilities designed to insure the finest Postal system in the world.

Conflict of Interests.

Maladministration and selfish manipulation have characterized Federal Administration during the Eisenhower years, Taxpayers, paying billions of dollars each year to their Government, demand and must have the highest standards of honesty, integrity and efficiency as a minimum requirement of Federal Executive conduct. We pledge a strong merit system as a substitute for cynical policies of spoils and special favor which are now the rule of the day. We seek the constant improvement of the Federal Government apparatus to accomplish these ends.

Under certain conditions, we recognize the need for the employment of personnel without compensation in the Executive Branch of the Government. But the privileges extended these dollar-a-year men have resulted in grave abuses of power. Some of these representatives of large corporations have assumed a dual loyalty to the Government and to the corporations that pay them. These abuses under the Republican Administration have been scandalous. The Democratic Party proposes that any necessary use of non-compensated employees shall be made only after the most careful scrutiny and under the most rigidly prescribed safeguards to prevent any conflict of interests.

Freedom of Information.

During recent years there has developed a practice on the part of Federal agencies to delay and withhold information which is needed by Congress and the general public to make important decisions affecting their lives and destinies. We believe that this trend toward secrecy in Government should be reversed and that the Federal Government should return to its basic tradition of exchanging and promoting the freest flow of information possible in those unclassified areas where secrets involving weapons development and bona fide nationalsecurity are not involved. We condemn the Eisenhower Administration for the excesses practiced in this vital area, and pledge the Democratic Party to reverse this tendency, substituting a rule of law for that of broad claims of executive privilege.

We reaffirm our position of 1952 "to press strongly for world-wide freedom in the gathering and dissemination of news." We shall press for free access to information throughout the world for our journalists and scholars.

Clean Elections.

The shocking disclosures in the last Congress of attempts by selfish interests to exert improper influence on members of Congress have resulted in a Congressional investigation now under way. The Democratic Party pledges itself to provide effective regulation and full disclosure of campaign expenditures and contributions in elections to Federal offices.

Equal Rights Amendment.

We of the Democratic Party recommend and indorse for submission to the Congress a Constitutional amendment providing equal rights for women.

Veterans Administration.

We are spending approximately 4 3/4 billion dollars per year on veterans’ benefits. There are more than 22 million veterans in civil life today and approximately 4 million veterans or dependents of deceased veterans drawing direct cash benefits from the Veterans Administration. It is clear that a matter of such magnitude demands more prominence in the affairs of Government. We pledge that we will elevate the Veterans Administration to a place of dignity commensurate with its importance in national affairs.

We charge the present Administration with open hostility toward the veterans’ hospital program as disclosed by its efforts to restrict severely that program in fiscal year 1954. We further charge the Administration with incompetence and gross neglect in the handling of veterans’ benefits in the following particulars:

(1) The refusal to allow service connection for disabilities incurred in or aggravated by military service, and the unwarranted reduction of disability evaluations in cases where service connection has been allowed; and

(2) The failure to give proper protection to veterans purchasing homes under the VA home loan program both by inadequate supervision of the program and, in some instances, by active cooperation with unscrupulous builders, lenders and real estate brokers.

In recognition of the valiant efforts of those who served their Nation in its gravest hours, we pledge:

(1) Continuance of the Veterans Administration as an independent Federal agency handling veterans programs;

(2) Continued recognition of war veterans, with adequate compensation for the service-connected disabled and for the survivors of those who have passed away in service or from service-incurred disabilities; and with pensions for disabled and distressed veterans, and for the dependents of those who have passed on, where they are in need or unable to provide for themselves;

(3) Maintenance of the Veterans Administration hospital system, with no impairment in the high quality of medical and hospital service;

(4) Priority of hospitalization for the service-connected disabled, and the privilege of hospital care when beds are available for the non-service-connected illness of veterans who are sick and without funds or unable to procure private hospitalization;

(5) Fair administration of veterans preference laws, and employment opportunities for handicapped and disabled veterans;

(6) Full hearings for war veterans filing valid applications with the review, corrective and settlement boards of the Federal Government; and

(7) Support for legislation to obtain an extension of the current law to enable veterans to obtain homes and farms through the continuance of the GI Loan Program.

Statehood for Alaska and Hawaii.

We condemn the Republican Administration for its utter disregard of the rights to statehood of both Alaska and Hawaii. These territories have contributed greatly to our national economic and cultural life and are vital to our defense. They are part of America and should be recognized as such. We of the Democratic Party, therefore, pledge immediate Statehood for these two territories. We commend these territories for the action their people have taken in the adoption of constitutions which will become effective forthwith when they are admitted into the Union.

Puerto Rico.

The Democratic Party views with satisfaction the progress and growth achieved byPuerto Rico since its political organization as a Commonwealth under Democratic Party leadership. We pledge, once again, our continued support of the Commonwealth and its development and growth along lines of increasing responsibility and authority, keeping as functions of the Federal Government only such as are essential to the existence of the compact of association adopted by the Congress of the United States and the people of Puerto Rico.

The progress of Puerto Rico under Commonwealth status has been notable proof of the great benefits which flow from self-government and the good neighbor policy which under Democratic leadership this country has always followed.

Virgin Islands.

We favor increased self-government for the Virgin Islands to provide for an elected Governor and a Resident Commissioner in the Congress of the United States. We denounce the scandalous administration of the first Eisenhower-appointed Governor of the Virgin Islands.

Other Territories and Possessions.

We favor increased self-government for Guam, other outlying territories and the Trust Territory of the Pacific.

District of Columbia.

We favor immediate home rule and ultimate national representation for the District of Columbia.

American Indians.

Recognizing that all American Indians are citizens of the United States and of the States in which they reside, and acknowledging that the Federal Government has a unique legal and moral responsibility for Indians which is imposed by the Constitution and spelled out in treaties, statutes and court decisions, we pledge:

Prompt adoption of a Federal program to assist Indian tribes in the full development of their human and natural resources, and to advance the health, education and economic well-being of Indian citizens, preserving their traditions without impairing their cultural heritage;

No alteration of any treaty or other Federal-Indian contractual relationships without the free consent of the Indian tribes concerned; reversal of the present policies which are tending toward erosion of Indian rights, reduction of their economic base through alienation of their lands, and repudiation of Federal responsibility;

Prompt and expeditious settlement of Indian claims against the United States, with full recognition of the rights of both parties; and

Elimination of all impediments to full citizenship for American Indians.

Governmental Balance.

The Democratic Party has upheld its belief in the Constitution as a charter of individual rights, an effective instrument for human progress. Democratic Administrations placed upon the statute books during their last 20 years a multitude of measures which testify to our belief in the Jeffersonian principle of local control even in general legislation involving Nation-wide programs. Selective Service, Social Security, agricultural adjustment, low-rent housing, hospital, and many other legislative programs have placed major responsibilities in States and counties, and provide fine examples of how benefits can be extended through Federal-State cooperation.

While we recognize the existence of honest differences of opinion as to the true location of the Constitutional line of demarcation between the Federal Government and the States, the Democratic Party expressly recognizes the vital importance of the respective States in our Federal Union. The Party of Jefferson and Jackson pledges itself to continued support of those sound principles of local government which will best serve the welfare of our people and the safety of our democratic rights.

Improving Congressional Procedures.

In order that the will of the American people may be expressed upon all legislative proposals, we urge that action he taken at the beginning of the 85th Congress to improve Congressional procedures so that majority rule prevails and decisions can be made after reasonable debate without being blocked by a minority in either House.


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Chicago: "VIII. Government Operations," Democratic Party Platform of 1956 in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.535-538 536–538. Original Sources, accessed August 8, 2022,

MLA: . "VIII. Government Operations." Democratic Party Platform of 1956, in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.535-538, pp. 536–538. Original Sources. 8 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: , 'VIII. Government Operations' in Democratic Party Platform of 1956. cited in , Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.535-538, pp.536–538. Original Sources, retrieved 8 August 2022, from