The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party

By Michael Bowen | Go to book overview

FIVE
The Great Republican Mystery,
1951–1952

The 1950 election results did nothing to quell Republican factionalism as both Taft and Dewey saw the outcomes as further justification for their electoral strategies. As the GOP made preparations for the 1952, presidential campaign, the national political climate remained fairly static. The Korean conflict continued in stalemate, while McCarthy’s crusade grew more aggressive and maintained high levels of public support. The economic picture looked to be one of ever-increasing prosperity with inflation weighing lightly on the minds of the voters. Inside the Republican organization, however, the mood transformed dramatically with rumors that General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the architect of D-Day, would seek the nomination. “Ike” regularly voted as a Republican, but since military code prevented him from making public political statements while on active duty, his party affiliation was largely unknown. After his defeat in 1948, Dewey still believed in his moderate Republican program but saw Eisenhower, a highly desirable, extremely electable nominee, as the most viable person to end the nearly two decades of Democratic dominance. The Dewey faction courted Ike and, in 1951, organized a preconvention campaign for him based on his sterling reputation, past heroics, and enormous popularity. Taft, operating on the assumption that 1952, was his year to head the ticket, prepared to re-create his 1950 Ohio campaign methods and rally those loosely identified as conservatives against the Truman administration. Though Eisenhower’s presence finally broke the balance of power between Taft and Dewey, the 1952, campaign solidified the factional identities as liberal and conservative and further alienated the strong conservatives in the GOP.

In November 1950 the Republican Party remained an amalgamation of disgruntled personalities. Although most party elites were center-right

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The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms ix
  • Introduction 1
  • One - Thirst for Power and Self-Perpetuation, 1944–1946 15
  • Two - Communism vs. Republicanism, 1946–1948 35
  • Three - Opportunity Wasted, 1948 56
  • Four - A Nation of Morons, 1949–1950 75
  • Five - The Great Republican Mystery, 1951–1952 109
  • Six - If We Sleep on This, We Are Really Suckers, 1952 130
  • Seven - Prelude to a Purge, 1952–1953 153
  • Eight - Moderating Republicanism, 1953–1964 173
  • Conclusion 201
  • Notes 207
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 247
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