Monday, November 22, 2010

The Marshall Plan and Richard Nixon

Congressman-elect Lou Barletta's Future Office, Freshman Congressman Richard Nixon's Former Office

The year 1947. Richard Nixon is sworn in as a freshman in Congress. The first political dilemma he would face was a vote on The Marshall Plan.

We elect men and women to go to Congress and lead, not cower in fear. The timid reactions from too many of those who never show pause when asking for campaign money, or our vote, are now cautious and nervous as the health care vote approaches. Some of the freshman Democrats are acting like they saw the headless horseman in the forest and do not know if they should hunker down, or run and scream. These members, instead of looking to the health policy included in the bill, and the need for national reform, seem intent to just shake in their boots. Richard Nixon would surely have some advice for this Congress and their concerns over the upcoming vote.

First, Richard Nixon would remind congress what leadership is all about. After all, it was in 1947 when Nixon was sworn in as a freshman member, and soon thereafter faced his first major political dilemma. The Marshall Plan was designed to rebuild Europe and steer nations away from communism. It was a hated proposal by many Republicans who were not about to carry water for President Truman. But after listening to the words of Truman at a White House meeting, and then visiting Western Europe, Nixon was convinced the plan was essential for the nation, and the world.

Congressman Nixon took a poll of his district and found that 75% of his constituents were opposed to the Marshall Plan. But that did not deter Nixon from voting his conscience on the bill. He then worked over-time to educate and convince those who were opposed. In fact, he spent almost a month in California selling the Marshall Plan. In the face of just plain wrong information that voters thought to be true Nixon repeated over and over the need for the plan. Many have argued that this was Nixon’s finest hour in politics as he soared over partisanship and dealt with a needed national policy.

Number 67 was the "lucky draw" for Congressman-elect Lou Barletta according to Bill O'Boyle of the Times Leader.

That meant Barletta, the Republican congressman-elect from the 11th District, would have to wait for 66 of his 85 Republican freshmen colleagues to choose their offices. There are also nine new Democrats in the freshman class.

As it turned out, Barletta got the office he wanted all along.

Barletta’s new address will be on the top floor of the Cannon House Office Building at office No. 510. One floor directly beneath Barletta – in office No. 410 – will be Tom Marino, newly elected from the 10th Congressional District.

Barletta’s new office has history – it was the first office of freshman congressman and former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon in 1947. Others to have occupied the same space are Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Norman Mineta of California and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky.

According to the Office of the Clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives the November 05, 1946 election brought future history to the United States political scene.

The GOP gained 55 seats for a 246 to 188 advantage (with an additional third-party Member). Though Republican control of the chamber lasted only one Congress, the large class of 91 freshman Members who entered the 80th Congress (1947–1949), included a distinguished group of individuals—some of whom remained mainstays of American politics for decades. Among the first-term Representatives were future Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma and Frederick A. Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania—the great-great-grandnephew of the first House Speaker. Others included future House Public Works Committee Chairman John Blatnik of Minnesota, future Senators Jacob Javits of New York and George Smathers of Florida, and Katharine St. George of New York, who became the first woman ever to serve on the influential House Rules Committee. The new class also included two future Presidents: John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Richard M. Nixon of California. Kennedy won election to a seat vacated by James M. Curley who had announced his intention to run (successfully) for a fourth term as mayor of Boston. In his Boston-centered district, Kennedy defeated perennial GOP candidate Lester Bowen with 72 percent of the vote. Nixon benefitted from the Republican electoral groundswell, engineering an upset victory over five-term veteran Democrat Jerry Voorhis in a suburban Los Angeles district with a 56 percent majority.

The 112th Congress freshman class has a mandate from the people. Smaller government and less invasion in our lives. It is up to them to educate the rest of Congress on the wisdom of following that path.

1 comment:

Gregory said...

Great post! I love RN history.