Communists versus Fascists

“The powerful reactionary forces which are undermining our democratic institutions… when a few men get control of the economy of a nation, they find a front man to run the country for them. In Germany, they put money and influence behind Adolf Hitler. We know the rest of the story.” — Harry Truman, 1948, on the Candidacy of his Republican opponent, Thomas Dewey.

Thomas Dewey didn’t barely responded, because he was so far ahead in the polls.

This is the old game of Fascists versus Communists. The Republican response would be — embittered by the following election loss– to sharpen up their red-attacks, under the leadership of renegade maverick Joseph McCarthy. I’m tempted to brandish the “front man for machinery behind the curtain” motif of Fascist-baiting as a catch-all. Such a premise continues on to today, with George W Bush — who in seemingly everybody’s hearts and minds is nothing but a puppet.

The line against the would-be Communists is a bit different. In the case of Truman, or Roosevelt, or better still Henry Wallace… they may be either the ruthless consolidator of power who turns the government into a personality cult… or they are fellow travellers, letting the International Communist Conspiracy take hold in the nation at large. For the former, consult Herbert Hoover’s speech on FDR found in a previous post entitled “Dictatorship, I Say!” For the latter, we have, at the 1944 Democratic Convention describing the convention’s Henry Wallace supporters:

“a strange mixture of actual Communists, would be Communists, do-gooders, and other hypertension personalities who had jumped on his bandwagon, ruthlessly shoving aside a small core of men and women who sincerely believed Henry Wallace was the only answer to a troubled world. With such a lunatic fringe — the Wallace forces were emotionally organized to commit anything up to and including hari-kari.” — Edwin Pauley

This was a commentary by a Democratic party hack on the Henry Wallace demonstration on the floor of the convention that would have brought him back into the vice presidency. The Wallace supporters had managed to take complete control of the convention floor. The Democratic Machine, which was all set to nominate Harry Truman for the vice presidency, quickly adjourned the day’s session before anything could happen, turned out the lights, and met the next day with the convention floor back to their liking. It appears that they did not call a fire hazard as everyone seems to think they did, though they were prepared to do so if necessary.

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