The Mason Doctrine
Mason first came to prominence in the immediate aftermath of the Global War, when as a member of the Grand Council he successfully proposed a massive program of aid and reconstruction, without distinction among the combatants, that came to be known as the Mason Doctrine. The Mason Doctrine quickly gained national approval, and supporters formed the Reconciliation Committee of One Hundred Million to help speed passage through the Grand Council.
With the dissolution of the wartime unity cabinet under Governor-General Bruce Hogg, Mason became the leader of the Liberal Party both in the Council and nationally, and began his campaign for the 1953 election three years in advance. Helped by division in the People's Coalition between adherents of Governor-General James Billington and convention challenger Perry Jay, Mason won an 82-68 victory. His platform included acknowledgement of the C.N.A.'s war guilt, continuation and expansion of the aid program, and greater central control of the government and economy. According to analyst Frank Rusk, the fact that Billington was a Negro played almost no role in the contest.
Mason's first term saw a major social revolution in the C.N.A., called the New Day. The phrase originated in a 1953 vitavised speech by Mason, where he broke down in tears after describing the devastation he had witnessed on a world tour and concluded, "We must lead the world to a new day." Mason inspired a movement of poets and artists with what Sobel describes as "emotional and erratic" speeches, urging his followers to lead a simple, anti-materialist life, while at the same time increasing economic production to aid their fellows abroad. A German visitor in 1956 described a bifurcated society identifiable by dress -- brightly-colored followers of Mason and sombre opponents. Mason left much of the operation of the government to Minister for Home Affairs Grover Speigal, who reversed many of the decentralization measures of the Dewey administration.
Eventually emerging as Mason's most prominent critic was journalist Jeffrey Martin, editor of the New York Herald, who ridiculed his inconsistencies and his Christian religiosity. Martin rode an emotional tide of resentment at New Day programs, and the ingratitude of the foreign recipients, to win a three-cornered fight for the People's Coalition nomination against Jay and Councilman Roswell James of the S.C. Mason won a narrow 77-73 victory in the 1958 Grand Council elections, winning the support of "professionals, those educated in humanistic studies, and white-collar workers" uniformly across all regions of the nation and among both whites and Negroes.
Early in Mason's second term, an increase in international tensions threatened confidence in his leadership. Mexican leader Vincent Mercator denounced a perceived alliance of the C.N.A. and Kramer Associates, and made threatening moves in the Pacific and Caribbean. Speigal urged Mason to increase military readiness and make a strong diplomatic response, in order to keep the fragile Liberal majority together, but Mason refused on principle. Kramer president Carl Salazar actually sought an alliance with the C.N.A. to keep the peace, but lacking confidence in Mason he instead ordered the Taichung Project, leading to a demonstration of an atomic bomb in June of 1962.
People's Coalition leader Jay met with Mason and asked for a crash project to develop the CNA's own bomb, offering in return to support that year's budget for the Mason Doctrine, but Mason refused to compromise. Speigal and Jay considered and rejected the idea of a Council vote of no confidence, opting to wait seven months for the national election. At the Liberal convention in early January 1963, Mason expected easy renomination but was challenged by several rivals, including Speigal, who he defeated and then dismissed from his Cabinet. In the election, Mason ran as the Liberal candidate but also endorsed independent candidates of a movement called the Justice Brigades. He was defeated by Jay by a margin of 80-70, and no Justice Brigades were elected to the Council. Mason vowed to continue the fight for his causes as a private citizen.
Peace and Justice Party
In 1967 Mason endorsed James Volk's theory that the existence of the atomic bomb made war obsolete. Viewed as too old to compete for the 1968 Liberal nomination, he supported both Volk and Councilman Fred Tryon against Speigal. About half of his supporters walked out after the divided convention nominated compromise candidate Jason Winters of Manitoba, and he and Tryon then formed the new Peace and Justice Party and nominated Volk for Governor-General. The P.J.P. earned 22 percent of the popular vote and 17 seats in the Council, and as of 1971 remains a significant though minority force in C.N.A. politics.
Mason's mental stability was questioned throughout his career on the national stage, though Sobel concludes that "talk of Mason's having lost his mind" even in 1962 was "clearly... exaggerated". He gave a speech with chorale accompaniment during his first term, but this might be put down to a difference of aesthetic taste rather than insanity. He maintained an extreme pacifist position against what eventually became nearly the entire C.N.A political establishment, which was characterized as heroic idealism by his supporters and as madness by his opponents. Overall, he surely justified Sobel's characterization as "one of the most unusual governors-general the nation had ever had".
Sobel erroneously gives 1950 as the year of Mason's election, world tour, and New Day speech.
Sobel's sources for Mason's career include Jerome Lass' Richard Mason: The Nation's Conscience (New York, 1955), Herbert Losee's The Magnificent Anachronism: Mason of the Southern Confederation (New York, 1969), and a 1957 work The New Day, edited by Mason himself.
This was the Featured Article for the week of 10 February 2013.
|Governors-General of the C.N.A.|
|Winfield Scott • Henry Gilpin • William Johnson • Whitney Hawkins • Kenneth Parkes • Herbert Clemens • John McDowell • Ezra Gallivan • Clifton Burgen • Christopher Hemingway • Albert Merriman • Calvin Wagner • Henderson Dewey • Douglas Watson • Bruce Hogg • James Billington • Richard Mason • Perry Jay • Carter Monaghan|