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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Election 2012: Echoes of Truman’s 1948 Campaign

Bob Morrison and Ken Blackwell
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, Contributing Authors: Many of our friends continue to register shock at the election returns of last month. How can it be?, they ask. It’s not so hard to figure out, we reply. The first Romney bumper sticker that appeared last year bore a startling resemblance to another famous corporate logo. What were they thinking?

The first bumper sticker for the President’s re-election said simply: “ObamaCares.” Brilliant. We are not saying that President Obama does actually care about “people like me.” But voters polled on that question chose Mr. Obama over Mitt Romney by a whopping 81-18 margin. That’s fatal in politics.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Henry Olsen identifies that voters want a President who cares about them. This certainly helped the GOP when Ike swamped the cold and cerebral Adlai Stevenson, when Reagan trounced Carter and Mondale, and when George W. Bush beat sighin’ Al Gore and windsurfing John Kerry.

The 2012 election resembled Harry Truman’s come-from-behind “Give `em Hell” campaign of 1948. That year, too, Republicans could almost taste victory. They had taken over Congress for the first time in a generation on a TEA party-like slogan: “Had enough?” The Republican 80th Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act—which organized labor hated—over Truman’s veto. Labor unions then were a much greater slice of the workforce.

Truman had few enthusiastic partisans. The late President Franklin Roosevelt’s son, Jimmy, a California Congressman, even tried to dump Truman at the party’s Philadelphia convention and run Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in his place. Ike nixed all such efforts. “I’m just mild about Harry,” was a slogan of the Democratic Left. It played off the popular hit: “I’m just wild about Harry.” The Republicans told the rest of the country: “To err is Truman.”

But Truman was a scrapper. He didn’t mind winning ugly. Braving the opposition of his universally admired Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, Truman recognized the State of Israel just minutes after it declared its independence. He issued an Executive Order de-segregating the armed forces. He increased farm subsidies.

And he pushed class warfare at every opportunity. Sen. Robert Taft—the hero of Republican conservatives—dismissed Truman’s incessant campaigning “at every whistle stop” in the Midwest. Tens of millions of Americans still lived in whistle stops and took the frosty Ohioan’s words as reflecting a Big Business disdain for the little guys in those little towns.

That year, too, Republicans nominated a moderate Northeastern Governor, Thomas E. Dewey of New York. He had run once before, and been rejected, but now, with the economy in the tank, the GOP felt it could not lose. Dewey confined himself to innocuous bromides, rarely departing from his text. Stiff and formal, he was described by Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice as “the little man on the wedding cake.”

Once, though, when his campaign train suddenly lurched backward into a crowd of well-scrubbed Dewey backers, the Governor ad-libbed: “We’re going to take that engineer out and shoot him.”

Democrats seized on the quote as evidence that Dewey was out of touch with Joe Sixpack. “That’s what they do to workers in the USSR,” they howled, playing on the blue collars’ known suspicion of communism.

Throughout Election Night, famed radio commentator H.V. Kaltenborn assured his listeners that Dewey would pull ahead “when the rural counties are counted.” We saw a memorable repetition of this episode when Karl Rove challenged the Ohio count and pursued FOX News’s Megyn Kelly right down to the computer stations. It was as if the White Rabbit had chased Alice.

In the end, Truman’s win at any price strategy proved successful. Although there were a million and a half fewer votes cast in the 1948 two-party contest then there had been, amazingly, in the wartime election of 1944, Truman got 1.5 million fewer votes than an obviously stricken FDR had gained in his last campaign. Still, Truman edged Dewey by more than two million popular votes and more than 100 Electoral Votes.

One of our friends reported the day after the 2012 election that his lawyer daughter, who is personally pro-life but politically pro-choice, voted at 2:00 pm on Election Day. At 2:20, she got a text message on her iPhone from the Obama campaign thanking her for voting. Would she kindly contact six of her FaceBook friends and urge them to vote, too?

We should never forget: In government, liberals move and breathe and have their being.
Ken Blackwell is a conservative family values advocate. Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law.   Bob Morrison is a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. He has served at the U.S. Department of Education with Gary Bauer under then-Secretary William Bennett. Both are contributing authors to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: election 2012, echoes, Truman campaign, Ken Blackwell, Bob Morrison To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 8:05 AM - Post Link


Blogger Bobby said...

Great article, wish you guys said this a lot sooner.I have been a conservative for many years, not necessarily a Republican, but conservative in thought, action and voting. This election left me mad, disillusioned,confused,and just felt like not voting.I disliked Romney,establishment candidate, but disliked Obama even worse. No one was listening to the conservative American, no one. After the election results, I tore up my voting registration card(66 yrs old) and promised my children that it is their time to run the country. I will not vote again as long as I live on this green earth. The process stinks, it is rotten to the core and will never regain my trust again.

Blogger Bill Smith said...

Bobby, Thanks for your comments. I do not know which state you live in. But in Arkansas, people were listening as well as listening in several other states. It has taken a lot of work but in Arkansas for the first time since reconstruction, 138 yrs, we tossed the dems out of office and took control of both the State House and State Senate, we elected all Republican for US Congress and 63% of the voters voted AGAINST Barack Obama. That means democrats voted against him.

I too am 66. Please don't give up voting, we need every "right minded" voter and we need your continued involvement educating others. I lived through 22 yrs of military service and I am not giving up. I must represent my fellow vets who did not come home. Just ask for another copy of your voter card :)

Thank you for reading the ARRA News Service. If you have not done so, consider developing your list of 25, 50 or 100 contacts and copy and paste the articles you like -- easy if you subscribe to get the articles by email which is totally free and there are no ads. -- into an email and send them on to your list to help educate others.

Again, thank you!
Dr. Bill Smith
Editor, ARRA News Service


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