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America and the Democratic Party could use a man like Harry Truman again

By Daniel G. Jennings
web posted July 28, 2003

If the Democratic Party and the liberal movement in America want to start winning elections again, they could use a man like Harry S. Truman.

That is, a staunch patriot who believes in America and is unwavering in its defense; a man who cares about average Americans and will do everything in his power to make their lives better. Truman was a true patriot who believed in a free America that would never back down in the face of the enemy. Truman never wavered from the defense of America and freedom around the world. He launched the Marshall Plan to rebuild a devastated Europe and created NATO to defend Europe from Communism. He even committed American troops to the bloody and indecisive war in Korea to protect the poor people of South Korea from Communist thuggery. Truman's policies laid the groundwork for America's great victory in the Cold War, the bloodless defeat of Communism.

Harry TrumanAt home, Truman worked tirelessly to help average Americans. He was the first President to work for civil rights: He desegregated the military, opposed lynching and proposed some of the first civil rights legislation. He also proposed national health care and other social programs to complete the work of the New Deal.

More importantly, old Harry never backed down; he always did the right thing even when it cost him political support. When Truman decided to oppose Communist expansion, the left tried to stab him in the back. They went so far as to run Henry Wallace, FDR's simple-minded vice president for president on a "peace" platform in 1948 as a third party candidate. Truman refused to give in or compromise. He wouldn't abandon the people of Europe to Communist slavery even though it might have cost him the Presidency.

The right also tried to stab Truman in the back. Champions of the Southern status quo angry that Truman was championing equal rights for blacks and other non-whites and opposing Jim Crow ran Strom Thurmond on the Dixicrat ticket. Like the far left they wanted to cost Truman the election and help the Republican Thomas Dewey win.

The unholy alliance of Communist sympathizers and "States' Rights champions" almost achieved its goal. In 1948 the pollsters, pundits and experts predicted that Dewey would win. The Chicago Tribune even printed an edition verifying the victory. Yet, Truman won. The common people rallied to his cause. Average Americans stood by the president and the far left and far right both lost.

The far left scurried back under its rock and didn't come out again until the Vietnam War. The far right's power and Jim Crow were broken. History vindicated Truman's policies, America won the Cold War. The Civil Rights movement proved racial equality worked and eventually became the bedrock of a new American dream.

Today more than ever the Democrats need a man like Truman; someone who is willing to take a strong stand on national defense to prosecute America's war against terrorism vigorously and make sure the adventure in Iraq succeeds. They need someone to do what it takes to destroy the terrorists, dictators and warlords who are plotting to wipe our country off the map once and for all. Democrats should find someone to stand up to the self-proclaimed peace activists who demand that we bow down and let the fanatics destroy us. They need a person who will give the loony left the boot and start doing what's right for America and the world. It should be possible to find someone capable of doing the right thing for average Americans by championing the social programs that might make their lives better.

Unfortunately, it appears we're not going to get a Truman; we're going to get another George McGovern, (the 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee who campaigned for Henry Wallace in 1948) an unabashed leftist who will tell the far left what it wants to hear to win the nomination. The American people will sensibly vote against such a fool. Bush will win just as Richard Nixon did in 1972, not because people liked him but because they were scared of George McGovern. Until the Democrats are willing to run a man like Truman for President again, they'd better get used to a permanent role - as the minority party and the opposition.

An interesting aside here, while George McGovern campaigned for Henry Wallace in 1948, Ronald Reagan campaigned for Harry Truman. Reagan even organized rallies for Truman in Hollywood. When the Democrats started listening to the McGoverns and Wallaces, Reagan and many other average Americans couldn't change parties fast enough.

Daniel G. Jennings is a freelance writer and journalist who lives and works in Denver, CO. He has worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in five states.

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