In 1948, President Harry Truman was considered by the corporate media of the day as a sure loser to Republican Tom Dewey.
There were two other Democratic candidates that year -- racist Strom Thurmond and progressive Henry Wallace, who would siphon off substantial votes, and a few states, from Truman.
But he didn't give up.
Truman spent about half of September and October doing whistle-stop train campaigning, two transcontinental trips plus shorter trips in the East.
At a whistle-stop in Harrisburg, IL, someone shouted "Give 'em hell, Harry."
Telling the truth about Republicans won Truman an improbable victory in 1948.
The killer bit below, probably part of his whistle-stop tour stump speech, is some of the best-truth-telling about Republicans ever.
Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke.What Truman said in 1948 is still true today.
They stand four-square for the American home -- but not for housing.
They are strong for labor -- but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights.
They favor minimum wage -- the smaller the minimum wage the better.
They endorse educational opportunity for all -- but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools.
They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine -- for people who can afford them.
They consider electrical power a great blessing -- but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.
They think American standard of living is a fine thing -- so long as it doesn't spread to all the people.
And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.
The direct and clear language appealing to the working-class majority has been somewhat lacking on our side lately.
In 1946, the Republicans won 55 House seats and 12 Senate seats, and a majority in both houses.
Truman campaigned relentlessly against the "Do-Nothing Congress" that, among other things, passed Taft-Hartley over Truman's veto.
In 1948, the Democrats won 75 House seats and nine Senate seats, retaking both majorities; Democrats would hold the House majority until 1994.
Then as now, that's the real battle -- against a retrograde far-right Congress elected by a fluke and aided and abetted by the corporate media.
William Manchester's The Glory and the Dream has wonderful examples of the clueless corporate media of 1948 -- there's a lot more more than the Chicago Tribune's iconic "Dewey Defeats Truman" banner headline.
A Newsweek story in October was headlined "Fifty political experts unanimously predict a Dewey victory."
A staffer brought the magazine back to Truman on the train, and Truman "said lightly, 'Oh, those damn fellows, they're always wrong anyway. Forget it boys, and let's get on with the job.'"
The last issue of Life magazine before the election called Dewey "the next President" in a caption.
The New York Times reported that its national staff had "studied voter sentiment in every state" and concluded that Dewey would win in a landslide and Republicans would retain their majorities.
The Times added that they had polled 47 of the "shrewdest journalists covering Dewey," and they "unanimously agreed that the governor would win handily."
The Detroit Free Press ran an editorial on the day after the election calling Truman a "lame-duck" and urging Secretary of State George Marshall to resign immediately and Truman to appoint Dewey foreign policy adviser John Foster Dulles in his stead.
In a column published that Wednesday, Village insiders Joseph and Stewart Alsop worried similarly that "events will not wait patiently until Thomas E. Dewey replaces Harry S. Truman."
Truman countered the media onslaught against him simply and directly:
Everybody's against me but the people.The media are far more and way different today; nobody spends a month campaigning on a train anymore; and the far-right is better-funded and organized than then.
But the essential lesson of 1948 remains -- when a Democratic President forcefully denounces far-right Republicans and a do-nothing Congress as enemies of the working-class majority of voters, he will win re-election and Congressional majorities.