Americans for Democratic Action: Its Role in National Politics

Americans for Democratic Action: Its Role in National Politics

Americans for Democratic Action: Its Role in National Politics

Americans for Democratic Action: Its Role in National Politics

Excerpt

This book is more than the history of a liberal organization. It provides an angle of vision -- that of an idea-in-action -- from which to watch the unfolding of American liberalism in our era. It is written factually, without sentiment or adornment, which is one of its merits, for we feel in it the rough touch of authenticity: this is how it happened, these were the shaping men, and these the shaping events.

There can be no doubt that without the ADA American political thought and action would have become more extremist at both ends, Left and Right. The example of European nations, where Communism penetrated the intellectual and professional groups after the war, is an index of what might have happened in America. With this additional note: the extreme Right would have taken panic at the first signs of a strong trend toward the extreme Left, and America might have witnessed not a McCarthyism which made a bid for power and failed, but one which made its bid come through. I believe that McCarthyism was defeated in the end mainly by responsible American conservatism but such a conservatism could not have functioned in a political climate where the pull was away from the center toward the extremes.

By countering the post-war Communist drive in America to capture the liberal intellectuals, the ADA kept the centrifugal pull from taking over. But it did more. It also undertook to provide some affirmative direction to creative energies in both major parties, especially the Democratic. Although it was itself, in the political spectrum, to the Left of Center, it helped provide a dynamic center between totalitarian positions, to which men of diverse democratic beliefs could repair.

It was not wholly successful. Given the pluralism of American life and the inevitable fragmentation of thought, what movement could have been? But by supporting the Marshall plan at a critical moment in world history, it gave renewed strength to the drive toward a liberal internationalism which linked it with Woodrow Wilson's appeal for self-determination, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy, and also Roosevelt's willingness to use American power in the struggle against world chaos and world tyranny. By throwing its strength toward a welfare society and a bold program for economic growth, the ADA linked itself with the imaginative forces in American history from . . .

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