What we should learn from 1948 and 1968

In 1948 few liberals were enthusiastic about Harry Truman. Many intended to vote for Henry Wallace, a hero of the left from the New Deal who had no chance of winning. But on election day, enough of them faced the realistic choice and knew that whatever his defects Truman was better than Dewey. So Truman won. But those who refused to face the realistic choice almost blew the election, their votes for Wallace giving Dewey his margin of victory in New York.

In 1968, liberals were similarly unenthusiastic about Hubert Humphrey. They would have preferred Robert Kennedy or Eugene McCarthy. Not enough of them were willing to face the realistic choice so they just didn’t vote, handing the election to Richard Nixon.

In the next few days, the media could atone for all of its sins against Gore (outlined in these three previous items 1 2 3) simply by making today’s realistic choice clear. If they do, the country will be the victor.

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Charles Peters

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly.