Of course, when workers get prosperous, the GOP starts looking more appealing to them with their promise of tax cuts so, in some ways, the Democrats later became victims of their own success.
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Having relied on defense spending to pull itself out of the Depression, the U. There were a couple of difficult years with housing shortages and strained labor relations as the country transitioned from WWII.
At stake was the question of whether the gains labor made during the Depression, including minimum wage and the right to collective bargaining, were temporary or permanent. While there were several strikes during WWII, labor and management were mostly willing to shelve the argument during the war. Once the war ended, it was game on. Management wanted the Wagner Act repealed now that the Depression was over, especially the all-important collective bargaining law that compelled management to negotiate with unions.
Both sides, labor and management, lost faith in him.
15 Postwar America
Labor responded by voting Republican in the midterm elections. After the lesson of , unions mostly voted straight-ticket Democrat up until the s. Like Elliot Ness in Chicago confronting Al Capone, Dewey made his mark as a prosecutor who courageously took on the New York Mafia in the s when they were at the height of their powers. Northern Democrats ranging from near-left liberals like Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota to progressives like Henry Wallace wanted progress on both fronts and Truman was caught in between. Some progressive Democrats branched off and formed their own Progressive Party The Democrats were conservative enough overall that Dewey was to their left on many issues — the last time in American history that a Republican candidate has been more liberal than a Democrat.
He also pressed the Justice Department to support Blacks in civil rights cases as a way to overcome the Dixiecrats. Truman took his cues from black union leader A. Still, everyone expected him to lose in , including his wife Bess who wanted to return to Missouri. But Truman crisscrossed the country in an old-fashioned Whistle-Stop campaign and pulled off a shocking upset Bess was especially shocked and upset. Since Dewey showed a commanding lead by early evening, most of the major newspapers went to press proclaiming him the victor. However, when all the electoral votes were counted by the next morning, Truman had inched ahead.
The disgruntled First Lady moved back to Missouri to wait out the term. The Fair Deal supported civil rights legislation, universal health insurance, expansion of Social Security benefits, and repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act that weakened labor the year before. A lot of the Fair Deal was similar to what Dewey proposed for his GOP platform in the election, but out of step with what more conservative congressional Republicans and Democrats supported.
The Old Guard blocked civil rights legislation supporting black voting rights and prohibiting lynching up until the mids the last confirmed black lynching in the U. Truman got legislation passed forcing the federal government to contract a small portion of its work with minority contractors in However, unlike today, segments of the left also opposed socialized health insurance in The AFL-CIO, the biggest union in the country, favored sticking with employer-funded insurance as a way to recruit workers.
The portions of the Fair Deal that made it through Congress were small increases in the minimum wage and expansion of social security benefits to include COLAs and disability insurance. Sometimes in politics, failing on offense is better than or similar to playing defense. Rather than being a temporary phenomenon, the New Deal left a lasting imprint on American politics long after the Depression, up to and including the present. With moderate Republican Dwight Eisenhower succeeding Truman from , core New Deal liberalism like Social Security, minimum wage, and housing loans locked in.
There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do such things. Among them are…Texas millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.
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Their number is negligible and they are stupid. But in his second term, the U. Worse, the first two were connected. Rather than stand up to the criticism, Truman pandered to the hysteria by instituting loyalty oaths and reviving the House Un-American Activities Committee HUAC , a committee started in the House of Representatives in the late s to ferret out right-wing influence Nazi and Klan in the government.
The new enemy within was on the left, and seemingly no one was above being accused of communism. The CIA and FBI were rightfully finding out what they could about real Soviet espionage and some branches of the government, including the Army, struggled to control espionage. In hoping to defuse his critics, Truman accidentally fanned the flames with bellows when he should have used an extinguisher on HUAC and just made sure the FBI and CIA were adequately staffed to hunt real spies.
After , he manipulated the spirit HUAC had whipped up from He was a tough, energetic, self-educated farm boy and boxer from Appleton, Wisconsin, who was a Democrat during the New Deal but switched to the right wing of the Republican Party. In Washington, though, he was more of a loner than a Republican team player.
In such a heated environment, the accusation alone sufficed, even without real evidence. If the victim fought back, that merely proved his guilt. Some Democrats flocked to McCarthy out of fear, including the Kennedys.
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Young Bobby Kennedy went to work for him as a legal aid while father Joseph, Sr. With their leftist leanings, former New Dealers were subject to attack, but McCarthy steered clear of attacking Franklin Roosevelt. Oftentimes when he saw his victims off camera, he would apologize and ask them to not take anything personally, suggesting that the whole thing was a kind of theater. Pearson, who unbeknownst to McCarthy was involved in covert ops fighting communism in Western Europe, wrote columns critical of the Wisconsin senator starting in Just as Democrats took advantage of Republican resistance to fighting Germany in the late s by associating them with fascism through brown-baiting , now Republicans and conservative Democrats smeared liberals with communism through red-baiting.
This was at odds with what the CIA was trying to accomplish in Western Europe, where their goal was to win over and buttress liberalism to fend off far left communism. Elizabeth Bentley, , Library of Congress, C. Stieglitz, World Telegram Staff Photographer. There was the aforementioned Fuchs and, as we saw in the Cold War chapter, David Greenglass passed critical information to his brother-in-law, Julius Rosenberg.
Political freedom is the very trait that most distinguishes free societies from unfree. If anything, his unsubstantiated claims gave cover to real spies who could claim that they were being unfairly targeted like other McCarthy victims. The Catholic senator also targeted a disproportionate number of Jews and homosexuals. If McCarthy had been discovering and fingering actual spies outside the top-secret Venona Project, then not only would a revisionist upgrade be in order, we should build a memorial in D. His legacy was manipulating and exposing the paranoid tendencies of an anxious society.
The Cincinnati Reds baseball team changed their name to the Redlegs just to counter any suspicions as to their political leanings. Demille led a blacklisting of leftist actors, writers, and directors, trying to push them out of the industry. Both communism and fascism seemed like real threats in the late s, justifiably enough considering recent history.
We believe in, and like, the American way of life: the liberty and freedom which generations before us have fought to create and preserve; the freedom to speak, to think, to live, to worship, to work, and to govern ourselves as individuals, as free men; the right to succeed or fail as free men, according to the measure of our ability and our strength.
Believing in these things, we find ourselves in sharp revolt against a rising tide of communism, fascism, and kindred beliefs, that seek by subversive means to undermine and change this way of life; groups that have forfeited their right to exist in this country of ours, because they seek to achieve their change by means other than the vested procedure of the ballot and to deny the right of the majority opinion of the people to rule.
In our special field of motion pictures, we resent the growing impression that this industry is made of, and dominated by, Communists, radicals, and crackpots. We believe that we represent the vast majority of the people who serve this great medium of expression. But unfortunately it has been an unorganized majority.
This has been almost inevitable. The very love of freedom, of the rights of the individual, make this great majority reluctant to organize. There were many reasonable people in Hollywood who genuinely felt the democratic system itself was at risk and wanted to defend their industry from anyone who threatened it, regardless of who they were. While historians locate them on the right side of the political spectrum, they likely envisioned themselves surrounded by concentric circles of radicalism. Likewise, the FBI under J. While not technically a violation of free speech rights — only the government itself could be guilty of that — it hypocritically violated the spirit of free speech they mention in the opening paragraph above as worth defending.
Really, few actors or directors had any intention of abolishing voting or dismantling the system. Free speech was a legally relevant issue once the MPA began testifying before Congress in Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Included among the Hollywood Ten was the director of Crossfire , a noirish social drama that condemned anti-Semitism and racism in general but had nothing to do with communism or economics.
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Many people were just too warped to understand how someone could be a patriotic American while still opposing racism, unwittingly providing excellent fodder for enemy propagandists. One victim of the Hollywood Blacklist , Arthur Miller, wrote a metaphoric attack on this culture of suspicion called The Crucible While it surely traumatized Miller being interrogated and charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to rat out other leftists, it no doubt comforted him to have his future wife Marilyn Monroe at his side during the hearings. In , the Democrats took the unusual action of not nominating Truman for another term even though he was eligible.
Politicians like Truman, that actually have a spine, are bound to alienate nearly everyone given enough time.
Related An American Stand: Senator Margaret Chase Smith and the Communist Menace, 1948–1972
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