“Give that man a Dewey button!” A common saying in the 1950s, you never hear it anymore. Thomas Dewey was the Republican candidate for president in 1948. Most polls had him coasting to victory over incumbent President Harry Truman. The voters said different… Keep this bit of history in mind until all the votes are counted.
He was the Republican candidate in the 1948 presidential election in which, in almost unanimous predictions by pollsters and the press, was projected as the winner. Dewey had seemed unstoppable. Republicans figured that all they had to do to win was to avoid making any major mistakes, and as such Dewey did not take any risks. He spoke in platitudes, trying to transcend politics. Speech after speech was filled with empty statements of the obvious, such as the famous quote: “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
Dewey was convinced in 1948 to appear as non-partisan as possible, and to emphasize the positive aspects of his campaign while ignoring his opponent. This strategy proved to be a major mistake, as it allowed Truman to repeatedly criticize and ridicule Dewey, while Dewey never answered any of Truman’s criticisms. Dewey was not as conservative as the Republican-controlled 80th Congress, which also proved problematic for him. Truman tied Dewey to the “do-nothing” Congress. Indeed, Dewey had successfully battled Taft and his conservatives for the nomination at the Republican Convention. Dewey was repeatedly urged by the right wing of his party to engage, but he refused.
After the election results were in, an editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal summed it up:
No presidential candidate in the future will be so inept that four of his major speeches can be boiled down to these historic four sentences: Agriculture is important. Our rivers are full of fish. You cannot have freedom without liberty. Our future lies ahead.
Well 63 years later I question that editorial statement about ineptitude. It seems to me that kind of ineptitude in the Republican Party has blossomed and flourished instead of vanished. The Republican Party nominated Ike instead of Dewey who had been defeated in both 1944 and 1948, but the saneness of the 1950’s Republicans seems to have evaporated.
I am glad there is still time for sanity to prevail, and for the Republican Party to nominate a conservative like Herman Cain or Rick Perry. These conservatives have got to stop beating each other up so much. The Republican establishment wants Mitt Romney to win the nomination ASAP. They are telling the conservative Republicans to just shut up and set aside your ideology. I refuse to just shut up and set aside ideology.
I don’t believe any predictions about who is going to win in 2012; remember people were fooled by predictions in 1948. I want to work on electing constitutional conservatives, and I can’t make that happen by keeping my mouth shut and setting aside my ideology. History does not have to repeat itself. Passion and work are the keys to winning instead of never responding to attacks and empty statements of the obvious.