"Against Outside Interference"
— Reuther campaign slogan, 1946
It's not a question of right or left in this union. It's whether you are for or against Reuther.
— R. J. Thomas, 1946
Walter Reuther was elected president of the United Automobile Workers on March 27, 1946, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the union's tenth convention. After a roll call that took more than four suspenseful hours, the margin was paper-thin: just 124.388 votes out of a total ballot of some 8,765 delegate votes. 1 Reuther would spend the next twenty months of his life in a brutally fought campaign to transform this narrow victory into an anti-Communist mandate, but in early 1946 his margin accurately reflected both the balance of forces within the auto union and the fragile equilibrium that structured the politics of the CIO, the labor movement, and the liberal community. Across almost the entire spectrum of liberal and laborite opinion, the fear of a postwar depression at home remained far stronger than fear of Communist aggression abroad. Both Reuther and his adversaries wanted the U.S. government to reach an accommodation with the Soviets in Central Europe and to push France, Britain, and Holland to decolonize their empires. They expected American liberalism to help unionize the