We at C,V, B and A believe that 1942 could be a breakthrough year for the Republican Party. Our polling and focus group analysis has provided tempting indications that an undercurrent of dissatisfaction exists in the American people. After ten years of the Roosevelt Administration and the worst economy since the gold panic of the 1870s, the nation appears primed for a change in leadership. Considering our results we believe that adopting a two track strategy which praises President Roosevelt for his conduct of the war while attacking his mismanagement of domestic affairs could lead to significant gains in the mid term elections this year. The goal should be to reduce the Democrat margin of control in the House and potentially take over the Senate.
In just 9 months we could be saying, Majority Leader Vandenberg. According to our data (included as Appendix 1) the Roosevelt Administration is open to challenge in any number of areas. While the public has rallied in support of the President’s war policy we think that his conduct of defense policy prior to 7 December 1941 is open to question. What’s more, the President has a window of vulnerability regarding the lack of economic growth over the past 4 years. It’s important to capitalize on this weakness now. Within a year at most, the American economy will surge into war production and provide jobs and opportunity for every American who wants it. You must attack Roosevelt now for failing to rescue the economy. Once the average American is employed turning out tanks and bombers this message will fall on deaf ears. A report from our leading economists is available for a nominal fee.
We recognize that this will not be an easy tack for the party to take. While the wreckage of the Arizona is still smoldering in Pearl Harbor, it is only natural for all Americans to stand shoulder to shoulder with the President. But as we said before, the stakes are high and could lead a Republican to the Presidency in 1944. Our projections for the 1944 election are also available for a nominal fee. (Call number 567)
Areas of Presidential Strength
- War Leader. FDR is a powerful speaker. He has established a strong bond with many Americans through his fireside chats. People have come to rely on his informal but inspiring talks to connect them with events both in the nation and around the world. We regret that no Republican leader has been able to duplicate this feat so we reluctantly concede the direct connection to Mr. Roosevelt.
- Consistency. The President has been warning the nation about external threats since the late 1930s. His actions (the destroyer deal, Lend Lease, the draft) were all controversial at the time but he was able to shepherd these acts through the Congress with the aid of Republicans. You should definitely consider linking the Republican message to what now appear to be far seeing policies.
- Allies. The President is fortunate that our new allies are men who embody the qualities Americans find admirable. The British, personified in Churchill, who refused to be cowed by a rain of Nazi bombs represent the best of our common Anglo-Saxon culture: national pride and grim determination. Chiang Kai-shek has been quite effective in his message to the United States that China, a nation which appeals to the romantic stripe in the American imagination, has been fighting a clique of bloody butchers and oppressive imperialism. FDR’s approval of the American Volunteer Group was a brilliant use of overt covert operations against Japan.
Areas of Presidential Weakness
- The economy. 10 years of the New Deal has been insufficient to launch our economy on the path to economic recovery. Millions of Americans are still, at present, jobless. It is crucial that Republicans fashion a message which places the blame squarely on the administration. We have tested the line "mired in the depression" and it has resonance.
- Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. While the President enjoys broad support as war leader his policies that led to Pearl Harbor are open to attack. This is a risky tactic with a potentially large pay off. The risk factor comes from Republican acquiescence in under funding the War and Navy Departments for the past 10 years. Republicans in many cases took the lead in limiting spending for our military forces. Our staff is working overtime trying to create a story line that credits Republicans for fiscal discipline in the face of massive budget deficits but also implies that Republicans emphasized that our forces lacked a coherent defense strategy.
- Corruption. The list of great American companies that have been bankrupted since 1929 is extensive. We recognize the reality that both Republican and Democratic politicians have been the recipient of financial contributions but we believe that the administration’s position of incumbency can be cast as the nexus of both economic failure and the source of unlimited and corrupting campaign contributions.
Strategy and Tactics for 1942 (see Appendix 2 for detailed task list and time line)
- Maintain strong support for the administration’s conduct of the war.
- Attack the administration’s economic policy. In particular imply that our poor state of defense readiness is directly attributable to the loss of tax revenue due to a failed New Deal. You could say, for example, "We have borrowed billions of dollars in a failed attempt to prime the economy, when we should have been spending millions of dollars to buy planes, tanks and shells to improve our defenses in the Pacific".
- As we write this a Congressional inquiry into Pearl Harbor appears imminent. You should strongly support this, while maintaining to the general public that the Republican party strongly supports the administration. Let the Democrats take the lead in this and position your party as the party of loyal opposition.
- The thousands of business failures in the past 10 years a fertile ground for an attack on the New Deal. While there is no evidence of corruption, we believe that taking the principled position that there are appearances of impropriety could influence public opinion. Of particular interest should be the financial ties of men like Joseph Kennedy (the former SEC commissioner) and others whose financial dealings are at present shrouded in secrecy. It is possible, although a long shot that you can persuade Vice President Wallace, who is a strong progressive, to make a series of remarks questioning the integrity of certain members of the administration. This will enable you to assume two different lines of attack: that the administration’s handling of the economy is incompetent and that corrupt business leaders used special access to the administration to profit from the collapse of their own companies. We have a strategic alliance with an investigative company that could provide background information on selected Democratic officials. We would be more than happy to funnel this information through our office for a nominal fee.
- Internment of Japanese. This could very well be a sleeper issue. It is beyond doubt that for cultural reasons Americans have never given full credit to the patriotism of immigrants from Japan. Even though many of these people have been here for years, or are native born, their cultural insularity has made their patriotism suspect. With the program of internment, which appears to most Americans as a reasonable war move (see our study at Appendix 3) there will be a small group of disaffected Americans who view this move as somehow "un-American". You should nominate within your caucus a few men to be opponents of this policy. Men who can speak out against this policy as a form of moral evil that contradicts our basic American ideals. It goes without saying that these men (or perhaps a woman or two) should occupy safe seats in Congress. In conclusion, the Republican Party has a great opportunity to reframe the national debate and take back a substantial amount of political influence. A solid victory in the fall of 1942 could well lead to a Republican administration in the White House in 1944. The objective in any war is to win, so while we beat the Nazis and the Japs let’s beat the Democrats too.