|Source:Critical Past- Liberal Republican Wendell Willie: accepting the 1940 GOP presidential nomination|
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Wendell Willkie arrives in his home town and formally accepts the Republican Presidential nomination before the crowd.
Wendell Willkie arrives in his home town after being nominated as the Presidential candidate. Wendell Willkie in a car. A large crowd gathers to greet him. Crowd cheering and applauding. He stands on the podium and addresses the crowd. He formally accepts the Republican Presidential nomination before the crowd. Addressing the crowd, he states that the domestic and foreign policies of the New Deal is leading the nation into war. He endorses the draft for US defense and dares President Roosevelt to meet him for a public debate on questions vital to all Americans. Location: Elwood Indiana. Date: August 19, 1940."
Source:Critical Past: Wendell Willkie- 'Arrives in His Hometown And Formally Accepts The Republican Presidential Nomination'
By 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt had his New Deal passed through Congress and the Great Depression was over, but the devastating affects of it were still there and the people were still feeling it. Business investment and economic growth were still low and unemployment was still high. It wasn't the New Deal that saved the American economy: it helped in alleviating pain of the Great Depression, but the economy still wasn't back to anything near to what it was in 1928 before the stock market crash.
President Roosevelt, was a popular President, but there was a real case to be made against him and real room to run against him for President and offer a new direction for the country, which is what businessman Wendell Willkie who was a Liberal Republican offered in 1940. Liberal in the classical and real sense, not made up or stereotypical, big government, socialist sense. FDR, wasn't a Socialist either, but his big, central, government approach government approach with his New Deal, was very different from Wendell was offering which was about more individualism private business investment, as apposed to FDR's Federal Government investment approach.
The 1940 presidential election was an interesting election for multiple reasons: you had a popular President against a popular opponent. FDR, was a popular President, but Wendell Willkie managed about 45% of the popular vote which is more than Barry Goldwater in 1964 and President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Wendell with his 10 states won more than President Carter in 1980. It was also an an election where you had a Progressive Democrat versus a Liberal Republican. Willkie, was to the Left of FDR on civil rights and civil liberties. FDR, was to the Left of Wendell on economic policy. And they were similar on foreign policy and national security with both men being strong liberal internationalists and somewhat hawkish.
1940, represents a time in American politics where the country wasn't so divided politically. When Liberals, were Liberals. Conservatives, were Conservatives. Progressives, were Progressives. Socialists, weren't afraid to be Socialists. ( Unless they were in Hollywood ) Where Americans regardless of their political labels didn't hate each other simply because of their politics which is how you can get a presidential election between a Franklin Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie, because their differences were about politics and policy. Not race, ethnicity, religion, or culture.