Saturday, Jan. 30, 1943
I’m not talking about some boxing match but about the clash of political beliefs brewing under the surface of the seemingly united home front.
Americans were so certain the war would end soon that they were already debating what would happen afterward. Eddie Rickenbacker predicted American soldiers would brook no nonsense. Senator Robert A. Taft railed against long-haired cranks and their “utopian” visions of post-war America. He claimed Roosevelt’s New Deal “completely ignored and largely destroyed” the system of incentives he claimed had made America great in the past. He predicted disaster for American workers if free trade policies were enacted as well as bankruptcy for the nation and “the end of our American way of life as we have known it.” In fact, America would become a nation of “bums and loafers.” For the record, Social Security was one of those New Deal programs Taft reviled. This political clash continues today. Taft’s speech could have been made yesterday although a 21st-century press secretary might advise against tweeting about “bums and loafers.”