Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

White, J. Patrick||Israel, Jerry

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Political parties--United States; Communism--United States; United States--Politics and government--1933-1945


This thesis is an effort to explain and describe one method by which the Republican party sought to overcome the handicaps under which it labored during World War II. First of all, as a wartime commander-in-chief Roosevelt enjoyed certain immunities, the most important of which was that his foreign policy could not safely be subjected to harsh criticism. Secondly, specific New Deal agencies and programs enjoyed enough popular support--and Hoover suffered enough popular censure--to make a call for a "return" to laissez-faire economic policies politically disfunctional. Thirdly, organized labor was beginning to vote as a bloc substantially within the Democrat fold, so returns to labor baiting were minimal. Fourthly, and most importantly, the Republican party was unable to come up with an alternative to the New Deal. One obvious result of this situation was "me-tooism,� or the "we-can-do-it-better" approach to campaigning. But at least one other significant phenomenon grew out of, or at least was fed by, these circumstances. That was the anti-Communist tone of Republican rhetoric-- the condemnation in vague terms of a radicalism which no Republican would ever publicly and explicitly define. The New Deal, after all, could not be attacked head on. One could only talk, in the most ambiguous words, of "red conspiracies," "communist infiltration," and the like. And when pressed for specifics one could always rely on reams of Dies Committee reports documenting the infiltration of the Federal bureaucracy by radicals and revolutionaries. In this way the Republican party could attract voters who hated the New Deal and still support all of the most popular New Deal agencies and reforms. Until 1944 the GOP attacked with caution and would not charge Roosevelt himself with subversion. But the lack of other usable issues forced the GOP, led by vice-Presidential nominee John Bricker, to make more direct attacks. By the conclusion of the 1944 presidential campaign Tom Dewey, the Republican candidate, had made a central campaign theme of the charge that Franklin Roosevelt was selling his party, his country, and organized labor to American Communists to satisfy his own political ambitions. After the war anti-Communist Republicans turned their fire on Democratic foreign policy, and what began as a method of attracting anti-New Deal voters and as an attempt to move labor out of the Democratic column became a semi-permanent part of American politics.


Includes bibliographical references.


81 pages




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