…So, in the summer of 1952, when the Republicans nominated Dwight D. Eisenhower for President and he at once promised to end the war if elected, millions of Americans, crying, “I like Ike!”, swung onto the Eisenhower bandwagon. The country had grown tired of Democratic rule, and besides, the Democratic candidate, Illinois’s governor Adlai E. Stevenson, chanced to be an intellectual in an era of widespread distrust of intellectuals. In addition, too, many Americans were enrages at President Truman for having relieved General Douglas MacArthur of his command of the troops in Korea. Thus, with everything going for him, Eisenhower won the 1952 election in a landslide and swiftly ended the war by settling for a stalemate.
More than anyone else, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the quintessential American figure of the 1950’s, and was in fact a kind of living symbol of the attitudes and style of the decade. Benevolent, paternal, though deemed by many to be rather unimaginative and something less than a brilliant thinker, Eisenhower radiated to the country from the White House a sense of old fashioned morality, honesty, and Protestant virtue, as well as a rosy optimism about the nation’s future.
In a way, especially during the time that Eisenhower was President, the fifties were a peculiarly naive and innocent decade, an anachronistivc throwback to pre-129 Great Crash America. Other than the problems of Russia and the spread of Communism, which Eisenhower, to his credit, appeared to have pretty well under his control, the average American seemed to think in 1955 that the nation’s only problems were to build more superhighways, to develop faster cars and planes, and to keep the Dow Jones average on a steady linear rise.
Once you could drive on eight-lane highways from New York to Los Angeles without encountering a stop light, many Americans simple-mindedly seemed to believe, the country would become all but a utopia in this land of manifest destiny. …( to be continued)…