If you want to make sense out of conflicting Presidential predictions, keep your eye on Vice-President Richard Nixon. In one blow, President Eisenhower's tragic illness changed the prospects for 1956. A cut-and-dried campaign now turns into a bewildering but exciting one.
Warring factions in the Republican Party started jockeying for position almost before the news of the President's illness hit the newsstands. The power struggle shapes up this way: Vice-President Nixon looms as the key figure in the big contest.
The "right-wing" of the party quickly adopted "Nixon-for-President" as their goal. When the tragic news first struck the country, the conservative wing urged Eisenhower to resign, elevating Nixon to the top post. Later, the President rallied; Sherman Adams and Herbert Brownell rushed home to block any Nixon effort to wield executive power.
So conservatives shifted their strategy. They now want to persuade the President to run again, keeping Nixon in a favorable spot as heir apparent. Failing that, they hope to elect Nixon president in 1956.
Run Nixon in '56? Nix!
The "liberal" Republican forces, on the other hand, are working on an opposite motto: "Stop Nixon at all costs." First, they successfully soothed the country, and calmed the early atmosphere of crisis. Thereby, Adams and Brownell kept the reins of power in their own "liberal" hands. Although worshipful of Eisenhower, they oppose his running—for the the same reason that some right-wingers favor it—they fear Nixon's rise to the Presidency.
Right now, the "liberals" are searching silently and desperately for a man they can build up as Eisenhower's successor. They prefer Chief Justice Warren. Warren's entry would force the younger Californian, Nixon, to retire from the race. However, many doubt that the left-wing Republicans can persuade Warren to forsake the high bench for the rigors of political battle.
Who else may the "liberals" choose? They are mentioning: former Governor Dewey; Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts; Harold Stassen, Eisenhower's counsellor on disarmament; Paul Hoffman, industrialist and a left-wing favorite—even Dr. Milton Eisenhower, influential brother of the President. Fantastic as it may seem, don't sell this last choice short. We've seen stranger things in American politics.
At any event, when the left-wing Republicans finally find their man, rest assured we will know him. An expensive and powerful publicity campaign will build up his stature before the American public. Articles will suddenly appear in national magazines. In them, writers will testify to the wisdom and sagacity and healing powers of Mr. X.
At first, no writer will hint that he wants Mr. X for President. But the people, deluged with praise for the man, will soon realize that they shouldn't waste a man of such virtue in any more lowly posts. So we will enter one more "spontaneous draft" in American political annals.
Yet one question remains: how has Nixon earned the tag "conservative"—either by friend or foe? Consider his record, and you find little substance to back up Nixon's "conservatism." He followed faithfully every socialistic twist and turn of the Eisenhower administration. He went all out to sell the whole program to Congress. Richard Nixon does not battle for libertarian ideas; his record shows little opposition to the march to socialism.
Where did the "Nixon myth" come from, then? It stems from four sources: (1) a group of staunch conservatives sponsored Nixon's first election to the House; (2) Nixon helped to uncover Alger Hiss; (3) Nixon attacked the Democratic Party for softness to Communism in the 1952 campaign; and (4) Nixon jumped into the "pro-war" corner of the Administration—urged intervening in Indo-China and bombing the China coast.
The first factor makes him suspect to leftists. Actually, it signifies only a measure of the distance Nixon has traveled away from his former friends.
The remaining counts emphasize the gap between Nixon and the Republican left-wing. Yet they scarcely suffice to endear him to libertarians. Anti-Communism doesn't always mean love of freedom. No one suggests that such staunch anti-Communists as Norman Thomas or David Dubinsky run for President on the conservative ticket. As for his "pro-war" stand—nothing crushes liberty more effectively than the weapon of war.
A New Party Leaps Leeward
Libertarians, in short, can think of no reason to leap to Nixon's side in the coming fray—they are considering a more hopeful portent for '56: a new political party. It remains in the planning stages—a newly-launched group appropriately tagged "the New Party." A dedicated couple named Kent and Phoebe Courtney founded it. They also organized a monthly newspaper recently, Free Men Speak.
The Courtneys serve jointly as temporary chairman of the New Party and have recruited Lt. General Pedro A. Del Valle (ret.). The General, head of the Defenders of the Constitution, battled valiantly in the courts against the Status of Forces Treaty, which permits foreign governments to jail drafted Americans without granting them the protection of Anglo-Saxon legal procedure.
The press has scotched all news of the New Party, hopes to kill it by silence. But despite the formidable suppression, they will hold a national convention early next spring, name themselves, write a platform and pick a presidential candidate.
Right now, the New Party is conducting a mail poll of favorite conservatives for their '56 ticket. So far, Senator McCarthy and Governor J. Bracken Lee of Utah are running neck and neck for top billing. Every libertarian should rejoice to find Bracken Lee's name on the ballot. Lee looms far above all other possible candidates.
Bracken Lee Stands Up
Ask yourself what other politician advocates repeal of the 16th (Income Tax) amendment? Who else urges withdrawal from the UN? What other Governor refuses Federal grants-in-aid for highways? Who else dared to challenge the powerful educationist lobby by cutting school costs and selling state colleges to private enterprise? Who else denounced the fraud of social security? Or proclaimed foreign aid unconstitutional?
Throughout his career, Bracken Lee has broken all the "political" rules. He stood up for principles. And the people of Utah reelected him Governor by a thumping margin.
In fact, Lee seems blessed with all the political requirements: excellent speaking voice, sincere and winning manner, proven vote-getting ability. What more could anyone ask?
Over in the Democratic camp, the tempest rages in a teapot. Nominations may brew up a boiling pot of personal squabbles, but policy differences look to be few and far between. The presence of two left-wing multi-millionaires marks the Democratic contest: Governor Averell Harriman of New York, and Governor G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams of Michigan.
Flamboyant Senator Estes Kefauver, darling of the world-government set, will also run. And Adlai Stevenson, who carefully keeps his nose before the news cameras, may cop the nomination. But Stevenson's policies differ little from the other "potentials." The difference lies in his superior wit and intelligence.