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The Shape of Things | The Nation

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The Shape of Things

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The Democratic Convention assembled in the desultory spirit made inevitable by the final and definitive refusals of General Eisenhower and Justice Douglas to contest the nomination with President Truman. As the delegates arrived in Philadelphia, almost every hour brought further deterioration in the heterogeneous anti-Truman coalition. First came the defection of New York's Mayor O'Dwyer and the Chicago Democratic leader, Jacob Arvey. Next, James Roosevelt and Frank Hague gave up. Philip Murray had decided to stay away from Philadelphia altogether. And the day before the convention formally convened, the Americans for Democratic Action, which had spearheaded the anti-Truman drive on the liberal side, finally threw in the sponge, postponing until August any attempt to formulate its position in the campaign. That left the Southerners and some still stubborn sectors of the Northern Eisenhower following. At the zero hour, a desperation boomlet developed for Senator Claude Pepper, who responded with an enthusiasm that would have been sensationally welcome had it come from a likelier source. The Southerners, however, showed no interest in the Pepper candidacy, and on the very eve of the convention were still talking about walking out. The C.I.O. delegates were just as cool. When Douglas, despite long-distance telephone pleas from the President, refused to consent to run for the vice-presidency, there seemed little likelihood that the convention, which will be fully reported in our next issue, would be anything more than a dismal wake. The only contest that showed signs of life was over the platform. But as we go to press, it looks as if this, too, would be resolved by the typical expedient of dodging around the more difficult issues. On civil rights, housing, valley developments, and even on Palestine, trimming and compromise seem to be the preferred strategy of the Democratic high command.

This essay, from the July 17, 1948, issue of The Nation, is a special selection from The Nation Digital Archive. If you want to read everything The Nation has ever published on the Democratic Party, click here for information on how to acquire individual access to the Archive--an electronic database of every Nation article since 1865.

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