This is a speech given by Ronald Reagan in 1948 in support of President Truman and of rising Democratic star Hubert Humphrey, who was running for the Senate against incumbent Republican Joseph Ball in Minnesota. Humphrey was a strong supporter of labor unions and of America's growing civil rights movement. Reagan at the time was President of a union himself, the Screen Actors Guild.
If I didn't know this was Reagan, I'd never believe it. Here's an overview of things Reagan says in the speech.
- He criticizes corporations for increasing profits while they let wages stagnate.
- He laments that economic concerns have forced retirees to return to work.
- He condemns Big Oil for price gouging and profiteering. He specifically criticizes Standard Oil. You know it as Exxon. Wow, nothing changes.
- He is critical of the fact that free markets have failed to bring down high prices for consumer goods.
- He condemns the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Taft-Hartley is the landmark legislation that dramatically restricts the activities of unions.
- He condemns the Republican Party for failing to adequately support social security.
- He demands government support for low-income housing.
- He condemns tax breaks for the wealthy.
- He is critical of the curtailment of Federal school lunch programs.
I have always heard that as a young man Reagan had supported FDR and the New Deal, but I thought he had already turned to the dark side by the late 40's. Imagine what a great force of good he might have become if he'd stayed a liberal when he embarked on his political career a few years later. An articulate, charismatic spokesman for labor rights, social security, progressive taxation, affordable housing. Imagine what could have been.