The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, July 22, 2005

The Politics of 1948 and the Negro vote

The paper by James Rowe - discussed earlier today - may, as McCullough suggests, be only dubiously a source of Truman's 1948 electoral strategy.

But, as a piece of informed thinking from within the Truman camp, and unaffected by hindsight or the attentions of latter-day thought police, it's certainly of value.

I've just glanced at it so far; but the section on the Negro vote is striking.

For instance,
No less an authority than Ed Flynn has said privately in the past two weeks that Dewey will take New York from Truman in 1948 because he controls the Negro and Italian blocs.

Would Ed Flynn, boss of the Bronx and long-time FDR associate (until, like most such, he was unceremoniously tipped into the dumpster by the great man), be reliable on the point? I suspect so.

It says
Under the tutelage of Walter White, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, other intelligent, educated and sophisticated leaders, the Negro voter has become a cynical, hardboiled trader. He is just about convinced today that he can better his present economic lot by swinging his vote in a solid bloc to the Republicans.

Senate Democrats, after all, had barred all reform - FEPC, poll tax abolition, antilynching bills. Whereas the GOP
make no great secret of their intent to try to pass a FEPC Act and anti-poll tax statute in the next Congress. Whether they are successful – or whether Democratic filibusters will block them – they can’t see how they can lose in such a situation either way.

The Negro press, often venal, is already strongly Republican.

How 'bout that! Not exactly part of the folk-memory.

And the remedy for the Dems?
Unless the Administration makes a determined campaign to help the Negro (and everybody else) on the problems of high prices and housing – and capitalizes politically on its efforts – the Negro vote is already lost.

Just like under the New Deal, the Negro gets a slice of the programmes aimed at the electorate as a whole; probably a rather smaller slice.

Because Rowe knows as well as White, or anyone else remotely paying attention, that the issues of specific concern to Negroes - the ones that go on to figure in Truman's Message to Congress of February 2 1948 (July 20) and in the Civil Rights Plank of the Democratic Platform - are a flight of dead ducks.

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