From its inception, the Republican Party was purely sectional and required only five years to bring on a constitutional crisis that destroyed the Founders’ Union. By the mid-1930s when FDR had adopted a collectivist platform and utilized labor unions to funnel money and votes to him, an increasingly dominant liberal wing of the Republican Party chose to be equally collectivist. Conservative Robert A. Taft was in line to be the GOP nominee in 1952, until the party selected Eisenhower who appeared to have no demonstrated political principles.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Liberal Republicans versus Liberal New Dealers
“In their profound suspicion of the New Deal’s motives and ideological passion, nearly all eminent Republicans were at one with Taft; yet not all Republican leaders were ready to take, by Taft’s side, a forthright stand against the collectivist assumptions upon which the New Deal had been erected
The liberal, or anti-Taft, element of the Republican Party acted upon the assumption that the New Deal was irrevocable. Concessions, therefore, must be made to public opinion, allegedly infatuated with Roosevelt’s programs . . . Victory at the polls, rather than the defense or vindication of principles, seemed to most of the liberal Republicans the object of their party.
In some matters, it might be possible to outbid the New Dealers; in most, to offer nearly as much as Roosevelt offered. Hoover and Landon had fallen before a public repudiation of the old order; and the liberal Republicans assumed that the public’s mood had not altered much since 1936, and would not alter. They accepted “the inevitability of gradualism,” for the most part.
For [Wendell] Wilkie, [Thomas] Dewey and [Dwight] Eisenhower, with their campaign managers and chief supporters, campaigned on the explicit or implicit ground that Republicans were better qualified to administer those national programs which the Democrats had happened to initiate. This amounted to a confession, perhaps, that the Democratic party was the party of initiative, of ideas, of new policies, of intellectual leadership. These rivals of Taft did not venture, very often, to challenge the basic assumptions of New Deal and Fair Deal.
Even today, the attitude of many Republicans toward the New Deal remains ambiguous . . . [but] the theoretical basis of the New Deal, however modified and chastened by hard experience, remains a force in American politics.
For that matter, Franklin Roosevelt was by no means content with the Democratic party he had led to victory; his unsuccessful endeavor to “purge” the Democratic party of conservatives, just before Taft entered the Senate, was the consequence of the belief that “the Democratic Party and the Republican Party . . . one should be liberal and the other conservative . . . [as] this has been the division by which the American parties in American history have been identified.
Later in 1944, Roosevelt was to propose to Wendell Wilkie (who had lost the Republican presidential nomination) that he and Wilkie should unite to form a new, “really liberal party.”
(The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft, Russell Kirk & James McClellan, Fleet Press, 1967, excerpts, pp. 46-48; 51)