A True Liberal Party

Read this in the Galbraith book and found it a remarkable example of "what might have been". You hardly need my commentary on it, the power of what this party could have meant is obvious on its own:

Supremely adept at maneuvering, and aware that he was actually trailing in the polls, Roosevelt privately took a new tack. His frustration with conservatives in his own party by then was at the boiling point, and he resolved on an unprecedented strategy to be rid of them. He decided to approach Wendell Willkie -- the republican he'd defeated four years earlier -- to see whether together they could create a new liberal party made uo oif progressive Democrats and Republicans and shorn of the antediluvian elements in the South. "We ought to have two real parties," FDR told his aide Samuel Rosenman, "one liberal and the other conservative." When Rosenman, on FDR's instructions, broached the idea to Willkie at a secret meeting in New York, the Republican responded instantly. "You tell the President that I'm ready to devote almost full time to this, " he said. "A sound Liberal government in the U.S. is absolutely essential." But the news of their plan then leaked out, and both men, greatly embarrassed, were forced to back off, though they secretly agreed to take up the issue immediately after the November elections. American politics for a brief moment seemed poised to head in a remarkable directions, but then Willkie suddenly died in the fall of 1944 and Roosevelt himself was gone the following spring.

Wow. I hate these moments -- the Willkie-FDR alliance, the bullet that hit MLK Jr., the bullet that hit JFK,. the bullet that hit RFK., the 500-odd votes in Florida. Our country could have gone in a very different direction many, many times. Seeing the possible paths in such stark, historical relief, however, really gives you a sense of loss.

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