Johnson himself was both an historian and a liberal political activist. He was an avid supporter of Adlai Stevenson in his 1952 bid for the presidency, and wrote How We Drafted Adlai Stevenson, a movement within the Democratic Convention of 1952, in which Johnson was a leader. He was also involved in the city-level politics of Chicago and ran for the City Council as a reformist. It is somewhat ironic that he wrote a biography of W. A. White because White was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. However, White became a strong supporter of Theo. Roosevelt's Progressive agenda within the Republican Party, an agenda which was passionately opposed to the power of money in politics. I have no doubt that if White were alive today, he would vehemently oppose the Tea Party - even though he might agree with some of its principles - with the same colorful invective with which he opposed the Kansas Populists of his own time, as demagogues and crazies. It is the paradox of White himself that in his earlier years he opposed Democrat William Jennings Bryan and the Populist effort to regulate the railroads and big business, whereas ten years later he supported Roosevelt's efforts to do the same thing. The difference, in his mind, was that the Populists - even though they might be right in some of their understanding of the problem - could not be trusted as persons holding office to do the sensible thing; whereas he felt that Roosevelt could be trusted. I'm sure he would feel the same about today's Republican Tea Party. White famously said that it would be better to commit the Republican Party to hell than to vote for it against the good of the people. Where is that voice today?
|William Allen White|
|Walter Johnson, in 1953|