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Is Jeremy Corbyn like Harry S. Truman?

Updated on May 10, 2017

Harry S. Truman mocking the Chicago Daily Tribune headline

Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders

Jeremy Corbyn has been compared to Bernie Sanders in America, or Clement Attlee, the left-wing PM of 1945-51. But in many ways the June election of 2017 is more like the United States presidential election of 1948. President Harry S. Truman, the Democratic nominee of the time, had every major newspaper and every poll before the election, predicting he would lose. Very similar to what all the newspapers, TV channels and opinion polls predict for Jeremy Corbyn.

One of the reasons why Truman was predicted to lose was that the Democratic party was at the time very divided. So much so, that a far right Democratic politician ran as a third party candidate, splitting the Democratic vote. Corbyn also has similar problems of a bitterly divided party. Also, like Corbyn the whole mainstream media at the time was against Truman, that he had to appeal directly to the voters on his famous “whistle stop" tour throughout the country. Something that Corbyn has also been forced to do.

Corbyn has been criticized by the fact he found it hard to read from an auto-cue when giving a speech. Spooky, Truman had a similar problem of not being able to speak from text written for him, so both men have had to ‘wing it’ in all their speeches.

PM Clement Attlee and President Harry S. Truman

It was confidently predicted that Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican nominee, would win the 1948 election. So on election night the Chicago Daily Tribune confidently ran the head-line ,”Dewey defeats Truman” before all the result came in. Yet, in the end it was Truman that came out on top. Not only did he win the Presidency, the Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress. Who said a divided party can’t win elections?

Another similarity was that both Truman and Corbyn are seen as extreme left-wingers. Truman took the “new deal” policies of his predecessor President Franklin D. Roosevelt, even further, by guaranteeing full employment for the working class and heavily taxing the rich. Something Jeremy Corbyn is planning to do.

For this reason the 8 June election in Britain is being seen as the most important election since 1945. When, it was also prediction that the Conservatives, led by Wilson Churchill, would win. But Clement Attlee won instead and was able to give the British people the welfare state and the NHS. But we can also see a big similarity to the presidential election of 1948 in the USA.


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