By David Glenn Cox
The America First Committee was founded by cousins Joseph M. Patterson (New York Daily News) and Robert R. McCormick (Chicago Tribune) in 1940. The funding was provided by Robert E. Woods of Sears & Roebuck. It was a Republican Astroturf group. The cousins would print anti-war stories in their newspapers, and the money boys would rent halls and hire the speakers.
As the popularity of the group rose the founders were dwarfed by their own success. They were newspaper men and financiers without a clue as to how to run a political movement. The whole point of their movement was to give their anti-FDR platform publicity. A Fox News Benghazi gambit. FDR’s domestic platform was very popular his overseas agenda not so much. This was 1940; Americans were hip to what was going on in Europe. But we’d been to the Great War and had a Great Depression and all, and Americans genuinely wanted to stay home and eat regular meals and work a regular job.
But Fox News really isn’t a new idea, the America First Committee sold the story like this, this is Europe’s problem, not ours. Don’t let Europe and Roosevelt, pull us into another World War. This is where the movement went off the rails. Because this was an Astroturf movement there was a great deal of autonomy. If you form a group that is against supporting Europe from German aggression do you know who’ll you get? German supporters, Ameri-Nazis, Fascists, nut balls from the Hoostings. The tin foil hat society, antisemitic racists. It all came to a head when Charles Lindbergh gave a speech to a packed hall in front of an oversized likeness of George Washington. Warning that the Jews were behind the troubles in Europe.
In that scenario Pearl Harbor was almost a blessing. Most of the estimated one million or so America Firsters were just plain Joes and Janes with no interest in arm bands and salutes. As of December 8th, 1941, the America First movement went extinct. Those questions have now been answered and your position has been rendered moot. Just evaporated into the mist like they were never there at all.
But Pearl Harbor was the political turning point everything after Pearl Harbor were judged in a completely different light. There was before and there was after and they were as a different as a flashlight to a back-porch light.
I thought it was a wrong move for Bernie Sanders to suspend his campaign. I understood in this time of crisis going with the unity angle. Making it easy, the idea of a contested virus infected facemask wearing sign waving fractured convention is a nightmare scenario. But we are through the looking glass here. Half of the nations primaries and caucuses took place before the onset of the pandemic. Some were postponed others forced to go on despite health concerns leaving their outcomes questionable.
Bernie should continue if for no other reason than to make Joe Biden look relevant. The campaign was about Bernie’s policies, and Bernie defined the race. Vice-President Biden, Bernie Sanders is advocating for Medicare for all how do you respond? It’s too expensive and how can we pay for it?
Here is that dinosaur meteor or the America First moment. Before the pandemic his position makes perfect sense to the political hierarchy. Today…it’s hamburger. Like Pearl Harbor, that point is no longer relevant. The ground has shifted under our feet. The ground has shifted under Joe Biden’s feet. Quarantined, Live from Joe Biden’s house! It’s Joe Biden! With an excitement level that lights up a closet, Biden struggles to stay relevant. Maybe he needs a band like the late-night shows or an opening monologue, something to loosen up the crowd.
Joe Biden possesses the unique characteristics to make an innocuous Vice-President in a personality driven administration, he’s broth. He’s good to go with something else but is not much good by itself. He has the flavor of meat without the meat. If one side says the elephants are coming and the other side says there are no elephants. Who are you going to listen to when the elephants show up? Biden’s position on Medicare for all has been turned on its head and turned inside out. The question is no longer can we afford it, but how can we not afford it. On the wrong side of the issue Biden attacks Trump, Punch meet Judy. You know what I would have done. No Joe, and that’s the problem.
I know what Bernie would have done. I trust that Bernie would have done the best thing for the most people. I don’t believe he’s infallible but that his intentions are good. Maybe America wanted a consensus candidate before, is that what we still want? And I promise, if elected, to make as little noise as possible, you won’t even know I’m here! To facilitate business as usual for the teaming multitudes of corporate America. To smile a lot and bring dignity back to the office, to be a caretaker we can all be proud of.
Then there’s contestant number two in more ways than one. The tire swinging orange moron who doesn’t understand the difference between a virus and a germ. Sure, it’s only seventh-grade biology but they didn’t have any fancy microscopes back when Grand pa went to school. Despite being explainable and understandable he still doesn’t get it. You begin to wonder how many pool balls are left on the table? A question of cognitive abilities beyond political realities. A big orange bull in a small White House getting smaller all the time. Who’s driving the truck Jethro?
It should be a simple matter to defeat such a candidate. Unless they have a media machine where issues can be turned upon themselves attracting the same crowds they’ve always attracted. But these are special times, all bets are off. Bush the Elder looked good after the First Iraq war but a year later voters didn’t care. How long will the Trump bump last? Can the flashing lights and horn blowing of the Lionel Biden express make the climb over the Trump bump? In a no campaign, campaign, where Mr. Excitement is going to show us how to make shadow puppets unburdened with issues or promises. Remember me? I’m not him! Remains a high-risk strategy.
Bernie? Don’t go no place.