Americans generally are suspicious of politics, and this attitude is far from superficial. It goes much deeper than the public dismay over corruption in government or incompetence in public officials. In fact, the American attitude toward politics shows, more clearly than anything else, a belief in the innocence of Americans. It is a belief that has been a significant force since our colonial era.
As inhabitants of a new land, and living under a new government, Americans from the beginning thought of themselves as also new and innocent, set apart from the stream of tradition and unmarked by history. This attitude continued long beyond our status as a young nation.
Politics is considered by many Americans to be an enemy of innocence and simplicity. Party activity, in particular, is considered degrading by citizens who claim to be nonpartisan. So it is common practice in partisan campaigns to organize citizens' and independents' committees, as distinguished from party committees, to support candidates. These devices are supposed to remove the blight of party identification. Another common device is the use of the term "crusade" to identify one's cause.
The Republican campaign of 1952 provided one of the clearest examples of this technique. General Dwight Eisenhower's supporters insisted that their actions and interests were nonpolitical, that their program was based on moral and spiritual principles. Even in their preliminary conflict with the supporters of Senator Robert Taft, Sr., the Eisenhower forces proclaimed the distinction between the crusaders and the politicians clearly and loudly.
In the 1952 battle over convention delegates, the Taft forces viewed the fight over the Texas delegation as a political one. The Eisenhower supporters would not allow the term "political" to be