A chilly thought has begun to haunt some right-wing Americans to the core. Could a socialist actually be president?
As democratic socialist Bernie “I am no Capitalist” Sanders grows in the polls, the fear of getting berned has many alarmist tea partiers in a frazzle.
Taking a page straight out of the cold war playbook, Senator Rand Paul has stoked their fears warning that Americans should steer clear of an ideology ( socialism) that killed millions under dictators like Joseph Stalin.
Never mind that Sanders brand of socialism embraces the democratic socialism of Scandinavia for example, where government guarantees paid sick leave, universal health care and free higher education.
The sheer terror that the word socialism elicits in some Americans is eerily familiar. It is the same panic that ran rampant during cold war America.
The Coming Socialist Revolution – Duck N’ Cover
Post war patriot George Washington Small’s biggest bugaboo was big government.
It was, he felt, the duty of every American to build down Washington’s bloated bureaucratic government.
Alarmed that the expansion of the government to regulate almost every aspect of American life meant only one thing- Socialism, George was convinced that Moscow-directed Marxists dressed in Robert Hall suits were infiltrating our government!
America was traveling on a road to its own destruction.
Freedom Caucus or Fighters For Freedom
Mr. Small feared the country was turning into something foreign and frankly un-American. He understood all too well that the “welfare state” was politicians gobbledygook for socialism.
In 1949, he was certain the American way of life was under siege.
Was George W. Small a member of the Tea Party? Hardly, since that movement wouldn’t evolve for another 60 years. But this post-war patriot was a member in good standing of the Fighters For Freedom, a branch of a larger right-wing group called The Committee for Constitutional Government.
Everything Old is New Again
Today’s conspiracy-loving, big federal government despising, climate change denying, Glenn Beck-watching, true believers of the Tea Party may well be the progeny of George W. Small.
The unhinged right-wing ideas we hear today were generated generations ago. The Tea Party is merely the new kid on the block.
The Tea Party is clearly a descendant not of the original first American fighters for freedom who created the American Republic, but of a right-wing reactionary group formed in the 1940’s called Fighters for Freedom. Exploiting people’s fears, its members were convinced that there was a conspiracy in the highest places of government to get rid of American Constitutional rule and replace it with a Marxist dictatorship.
On The Fringes of Freedom
In 1949 the N.Y.C. group published The Road Ahead: America’s Creeping Revolution written by conservative American journalist John T. Flynn and distributed by The Committee for Constitutional Government.
The purpose in writing this book he explained, “is to describe the road along which this country is traveling to its destruction. The American government has in recent years changed its character. It has become an overwhelming and omnipresent machine of controls and compulsions.”
The book had at least 3 printings totaling over 500,000 copies. The National Committee to Uphold Constitutional Government (also known as the Committee for the Constitutional Government) was founded in 1937 in opposition to many of FDR’s “socialist” New Deal Legislation. John T. Flynn wrote extensively opposing FDR and interventionist foreign policies, shifting his focus to fight Communism. During his last years some of Flynn’s books were promoted by and reprinted by the right-wing reactionary group John Birch Society.
The hope of the book was “ to dispel the mass delusions that have been fastened upon national consciousness by decades of propaganda portraying the welfare state as something desirable.”
“Fighters for Freedom realize that those who have lost their freedom have not the strength to regain it,” the book explained, “and those who have it seldom realize until too late how easily their freedom can be lost beyond recall.”
They were there to heal a sick America.
What Ails America
Like today’s freedom worshiping Republicans who are desperate to rescue the mistreated public who are being enslaved by Obamacare, the Freedom Fighters wanted to protect the poor American citizen from the evils of socialized medicine.
Then as now both groups excelled in spreading misinformation.
Not limited to the fringes of political life, groups with these beliefs had close ties to members of Congress.
A reprint of a speech given in the hallowed halls of Congress by the Honorable Ralph W. Gwinn of NY. was printed in The Road Ahead. After espousing on the perils of government control of minimum wages and hours, education, housing, etc. the Republican Congressman tackled socialized medicine:
“Our Socialists propose to continue the march down the road to Marxist serfdom by bribing our doctors to socialize health and medicine from Washington just as the British Marxist government has done.”
“The procedures are almost identical. 750,000 doctors nurses and hospital personnel would enter our government employment and cease free practice of medicine.”
“Washington would guide and control it all, drying up the voluntary source of skill, mercy, health and hospitalization.
There will be no more need to excel in skill and devotion to patients; there will be no more competitive effort for public favor.
Payments by government will be for quantity, not quality of service.
Yet as a doctor in Nashville said recently, ‘Socialism is the syphilis of medicine. It is easy to take but rots the body to death.’
Government medicine is sterile. It never invents or discovers new cures.
It can but appropriate and try to take by force what the individual alone can give as a voluntary free servant of the people. He alone can have the heart of sacrifice and devotion and love of service. Without freedom in medicine, the art of healing itself disappears.
A true believer, George Washington Small worked tirelessly spreading the word, distributing pamphlets, booklets wherever he went.
Fighters For Freedom believed “it was imperative that millions of copies of The Road Ahead must be distributed quickly, every citizen must read this as it tells what you and every American can do to save our constitutional freedom and competitive economic system from destruction.”
In a final burst of self-importance, the book declared: “Timely informative books like this have swayed the destiny of nations- as did “Uncle Toms Cabin” before the Civil War. Use the Road Ahead to project and multiply many fold your citizens influence to save our form of government for yourself and your children.”
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.