November 21, 1948. A good two weeks after the stunning upset victory by Democrats in the 1948 Presidential election, pundits and reporters were still mulling over what happened.
This interview, with Senator-elect Clinton P. Anderson (D-New Mexico) begged the question; “what happened to the Farm vote?” – Rural America had always been in the solid Republican camp. But this election year even the “old reliables” came into question. Of course, it helped that Clinton P. Anderson, prior to his running and victory in the election was also Secretary of Agriculture under the Truman Administration. Shortly after Harry S. Truman became President in 1945, he selected Anderson to serve as his Secretary of Agriculture. His most immediate concern was the reorganization of the domestic agricultural economy, which for the previous four years, had been focused on supporting the American war effort in the Second World War. Anderson addressed issues such as price controls, shortages, and subsidies, and he played an important role in developing postwar agricultural policies.
The domestic situation was only one of Anderson’s concerns as Secretary of Agriculture. The looming worldwide food crisis, which was becoming more evident by 1946, led President Truman to establish the Famine Emergency Committee.
Anderson made two controversial moves to change the drastic problems. Firstly, he used his organizational skills to incorporate all existing food and agricultural activities under his office. Secondly, he advised Truman to enlist former President Herbert Hoover to serve as chairman of the Famine Emergency Committee. During the crisis, Anderson, Truman, and Hoover worked together very closely. Many of Hoover’s proposals on alleviating the international food shortage were adopted by the Truman administration, and it became Anderson’s responsibility to implement the proposals. The three men can be credited with preventing an even larger international disaster.
US food production and worldwide distribution was stabilized by 1948, and Anderson decided to retire from the Cabinet. As with every project he had undertaken, Anderson left after he had resolved the problems faced.
His track record as Agriculture Secretary held him in good stead with the Farming community – so much so, that he was re-elected several times in the course of his political career.
To get a better idea of who Clinton P. Anderson was, and what was going on in the 1948 election, here is that interview from Meet The Press on November 21, 1948.