In the late 1940's Columbia released a record called, "I Can Hear It Now," narrated by Edward R. Murrow, on which was transcribed a portion of the 1940 Republican convention. This transcript, however fragmentary, affords a glimpse of the mounting excitement, the noise and turbulence, and color which dominated the last three days of the convention. As the hulking and rumple-haired amateur, after he had received the nomination, entered the convention hall like a triumphant Caesar, there rose the refrain, its vowels prolonged to an insistent and unrelenting chant, "We want Willkie." On Murrow's record, one hears it echoed by thousands of voices; audible even at one point from the otherwise taciturn professional politician, Joseph Martin.
Why did they, the professionals, the amateurs, and the people want Willkie? As Turner Catledge observed after the convention "that he [ Willkie] received the Republican nomination will long be cited as a miracle in politics, and millions of words will be used by observers in explaining it." There is little doubt that there were many intangible elements which influenced the delegates at Philadelphia, but when the whole picture is viewed one is able to discern these intangibles and their effect on the nomination. In retrospect, it almost seems that Willkie's nomination had to come.
The war in Europe was the most important single reason for the Republican choice. However, the war had little influence on American public opinion until the first of May, 1940. It enhanced Willkie's availability.
In addition to the war many factors were at work prior to May, 1940, which made him a serious contender. Wilikie's rise to prominence is best explained by the anomalous nature of our party system. Basically political parties in the United States are non-ideological. Men and groups move in and out of our major parties with each shift of the