For my blog post today on Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image, I’d like to highlight something that David Greenberg says on page 44. The context is the aftermath of Richard Nixon’s 1946 run for U.S. Congress, in which Nixon unseated incumbent Democrat Jerry Voorhis.
“Voorhis alleged in 1947 that Nixon’s minions had bullied shopkeepers, workers, and newspaper editors into suppressing their support for him. ‘Merchants were warned that if they dared to sign newspaper statements in my support, as they had in previous campaigns, their line of credit would be cut off at the bank. One large banking institution sent the word ‘down the line’ that its employees were not to vote for Jerry Voorhis.’ The sole editor in the district who had previously supported him, Voorhis added, ‘was informed the next morning by his landlord that he had read the editorial and the editor would have to ‘get out.'”
That reminded me of something that John Bircher Gary Allen wrote in his book, Richard Nixon: The Man Behind the Mask. Allen referred to an article in the conservative publication Human Events that said that, during the 1952 Republican National Convention, wealthy bankers were trying to torpedo the candidacy of Republican Robert Taft by threatening to call in the loans of pro-Taft delegates; their aim, according to the article, was to preserve their cozy relationship with the government through the New Deal, which Taft would threaten, but which Dwight Eisenhower was open to keeping. Voorhis would probably narrate his own situation differently: he would most likely say that the wealthy bankers were against the New Deal, and so they preferred Republican Richard Nixon over Jerry Voorhis, who was himself an ardent New Dealer. Yet, assuming that what the Human Events article and Voorhis say is true, it’s disturbing that private interests were using their control over the livelihoods of others to bully people into retreating from the political arena. I think of something that a poli-sci professor said more than once: that government is not the only source of coercion.