Source:The New Democrat
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Time: 1940s, 1940, June
Setting: Philadelphia Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA
People: Wendell Willkie, Charles McNary, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, Robert Taft, Thomas E. Dewey,
Objects: banners, podium, microphone, ballots,
Subjects: 1940 Presidential Election, 1940 Republican Primary, 1940 Us Politics, 1940 RNC, Wendell Willkie Speech, 1940 RNC Opening.”
People even if they’ve ever heard of Wendell Willkie ( and I would be impressed if they did ) might ask why blog about Wendell Willkie who was a Liberal Republican back in the 1940s who advocated for civil rights, civil liberties, the Constitution, limited government, and a strong but limited national defense, especially since his Republican politics no longer exists except for perhaps a few exceptions. People like former Governor Bill Weld, Senator Susan Collins and perhaps a few other Republican in Congress today. Well, for me that’s exactly why I at least who is a strong admirer of Wendell and consider him to be one of my political heroes blogs about Wendell Willkie.
I don’t want to make this a partisan post other than to say that the Republican Party today whether you want to define it as a Nationalist party or a Christian-Right party looked nothing like they did up until really the late 1980s, or early 1990s. Back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Conservative Republicans were people like Barry Goldwater, not Ann Coulter or Steve King or anyone else who is part of the New-Right today that are supposed to be the Conservatives.
Back in 1940, Wendell Willkie was to the left of President Franklin Roosevelt on civil rights, civil liberties, and even personal freedom. Imagine that for a moment: a Republican who is to the left of a Democrat on civil rights, civil liberties, and personal freedom. But Wendell was to the Right of FDR on economic policy. Wendell believed in the public safety net, but didn’t want a socialist welfare state where welfare benefits would be universal, which is what FDR was pushing for by 1944 with his so-called Economic Bill of Rights.
Wendell Willkie, represents the Grand Ole Party where you could have both Liberals and Conservatives in it. as well as Progressives but where they could all function together in this national grand party, because they shared similar values that at least Classical Liberals, Conservatives, and Progressives believe in. Like equal rights, equal justice, civil liberties, property rights, personal freedom.
The GOP was a party that could nominate Wendell Willkie, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Barry Goldwater, because back then Liberals, Conservatives, and Progressives weren’t like apples and oranges, they weren’t the complete opposites of each other and shared similar values and objectives, but had different approaches in how to defend those values and accomplish those objectives.
Back in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, liberal wasn’t another word for hippie or hipster. It had real meaning and instead being a Liberal meant you were someone who not only believed in liberal democracy, but that liberal democracy needed to be defended and you had to confront authoritarian states when they threaten you or your allies, or threatened your liberal values. Like Communist Russia, to use as an example.
Which is how someone like a Wendell Willkie, Tom Dewey, Ike Eisenhower, could not only do well in the Republican Party politically, but win the Republican nomination for President, because they believed in those liberal values because they were Republican values. That is how much the Republican Party has changed today, because that wing of the party is almost extinct with the Far-Right now looking so mainstream inside that party.