The Tumult & The Shouting

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Hoover states the GOP credo: Smith’s opponent (who did not raise the religious issue) hymned the praises of “rugged individualism”: During the war we necessarily turned to the government to solve every difficult economic problem. … When the war closed … we were challenged with a peacetime choice between the American system of rugged individualism and a European philosophy of diametrically opposed doctrines—doctrines of paternalism and state socialism. …

The Republican party from the beginning resolutely turned its face away from these ideas and these war practices. … By adherence to the principles of decentralized self-government, ordered liberty, equal opportunity, and freedom to the individual, our American experiment in human welfare has yielded a degree of well-being unparalleled in all the world. It has come nearer the abolition of poverty, the abolition of fear of want, than humanity has ever reached before.

Willkie challenges “one-man government”: In 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first President since Grant to seek a third term. His opponent, Wendell Willkie, seized upon the issue: Yes, we are sick of one-man government that calls an Ambassador of the United States “My Ambassador.” It used to be “My Friends.” Now it is “My Ambassador.” Pretty soon it may be “My Generals.” It certainly is “My Captains.” After awhile it will be “My People.” But there is one thing that is perfectly clear after November 5—it isn’t his White House.

F.D.R. defends his dog: Seeking still another term, in 1944, President Roosevelt brought down the house at a Teamsters convention on September 23: [The] Republican leaders have not been content with attacks upon me, my wife, or my sons—they now include my little dog, FaIa. Unlike the members of my family, he resents this. Being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers had concocted a story that I had left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him—at a cost to the taxpayers of two, or three, or twenty million dollars—his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since.

I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself—such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to object to libelous statements about my dog.

Harry gives ‘em hell: Whistle-stopping in Dexter, Iowa, on September 18, 1948, Harry S. Truman made a lowlevel attack on his opponents, the kind of black-and-white oratory that was to win him a surprise victory in November: The Democratic Party represents the people. It is pledged to work for agriculture. It is pledged to work for labor. It is pledged to work for the small business man and the white collar worker

But the attitude of the Republican gluttons of privilege is very different. … [They] are cold men. They are cunning men. And it is their constant aim to put the government of the United States under the control of men like themselves. They want a return of the Wall Street economic dictatorship. You have already had a sample of what a Republican administration would mean to you. Two years ago … a Republican Congress—the notorious “donothing” Republican Eightieth Congress [was elected] … This Republican Congress has already stuck a pitchfork in the farmer’s back.

Dewey anticipates victory: No one was more surprised by the voters’ verdict than Truman’s Republican opponent, Thomas E. Dewey. Winding up his campaign on October 31, he had said: This is the eve of victory. Let us use our victory, not for ourselves—but for an America that is greater than ourselves. Let us humbly pray that our children and their children will look back on this election of 1948 and say with thankful hearts: “That was good for our country.”

Stevenson talks sense to the people: Governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois was among the most literate and, to his supporters, most moving speakers in the long history of presidential campaigning. Accepting the Democratic nomination in July, 1952, he said: When the tumult and the shouting die, when the bands are gone and the lights are dimmed, there is the stark reality of responsibility in an hour of history haunted with those gaunt, grim specters of strife, dissension, and materialism at home, and ruthless, inscrutable, and hostile power abroad.

The ordeal of the twentieth century —the bloodiest, most turbulent age of the Christian era—is far from over. Sacrifice, patience, understanding, and implacable purpose may be our lot for years to come. … Let’s talk sense to the American people! Let’s tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions.