Some pundits still describe Trump’s base as sad, left behind relics, yearning for the America of the 1950s, a golden age when White people ruled the Earth.
So, let’s do a quick recap of the social and economic policies of the United States in the middle of the 20th Century.
In 1950 Harry S. Truman was President. He proposed an expansion of the New Deal. He called it the Fair Deal.
Truman’s Fair Deal recommended universal health care, a fair minimum wage, and guaranteed equal rights for all Americans.
“Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal.”
Harry Truman, January 5, 1949
In the 1950s, Males, 18 and above, were required to serve in the military or to serve in their communities.
People paid a progressive tax based on income.
In 1953 the voters overwhelmingly favored Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Modern Republicanism.” As President, Eisenhower supported New Deal and Fair Deal programs, expanded Social Security, and prioritized a balanced budget over tax cuts.
The 1950s saw White resistance in the South to civil rights and the
rise of the Black Civil Rights Movement.
In 1956, a group of Southern senators and congressmen signed a “Southern Manifesto,” vowing to resist to racial integration by all “lawful means.” At the same time, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights led a successful drive for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and continued to press for stronger legislation. NAACP Youth Council chapters staged sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters, sparking a movement against segregation in public accommodations throughout the South in 1960. Nonviolent direct action increased during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, beginning with the 1961 Freedom Rides. The Library of Congress
In 1957, President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce school desegregation. He wrote: “There must be no second class citizens in this country.”
There were plenty of far-right conspiracy theorists in the 1950’s.
Members of the John Birch Society believed a dark cabal of internationalists, greedy (Jewish) bankers, and corrupt politicians controlled the U.S. and Soviet governments. The founder of The John Birch Society, Robert Welch, promoted a theory that President Eisenhower was a tool of the Communists, and guilty of treason. He claimed that Communists created the Civil Rights Movement and that negrophile traitors inside the government would betray U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations for a collectivist. New World Order; John Birch Society.
It’s funny how that turned out.
So, if we’re returning to the 1950s, let’s get it right.
This film by Encyclopaedia Britannica is a 1947 civics lesson.
Educational films like ‘Despotism’ were shown in almost every High School in the U.S. between 1947 and 1970.
Is it propaganda? A cynic might say yes, and offer the history of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union as proof.
But in the 1950s, the United States was still reeling from the racist horrors of Nazi Germany.
I like to think this film was also designed to teach children that the way to avoid the horrors of fascism was by using the economy to build a strong and healthy democracy.
As communities go, so goes the Nation.
Based on this civics lesson, where do you think the United States stands in 2020 on the scale between Democracy and Despotism?
Rob Goldstein(c) First posted 2016-Revised and updated 2020
Sources Wikipedia, the Library of Congress, and the Internet Archives