Earl Browder - Campaign Address - 1940

Earl Browder - staunch believer that Communism was 20th Century Americanism.

Earl Browder – American Communist Party Candidate For President – 1940 – Past Daily Reference Room.

Earl Browder - Campaign Address - 1940
Earl Browder – staunch believer that Communism was 20th Century Americanism.

Earl Browder – Campaign Address – New York – September 25, 1940 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

In 1940, the Communist Party in America was very much a presence in politics, that election season. And contrary to beliefs that Communists were outlawed and banned from public speaking were completely false, at least as far as the 1940 Election was concerned.

Earl Browder was the American Communist Party Candidate for President that year. And because the FCC had adopted the policy that all recognized political parties were entitled to broadcast election appeals on an equal basis, the Browder campaign did much to take advantage of that, especially since Radio was considered the new and most popular medium of the day.

The CPUSA (Communist Party of the USA) enjoyed considerable popularity during the early years of the 20th century – they were a potentially significant voting bloc among the ranks of voters all across the U.S.

When the Foreign Ministers of the USSR and Nazi Germany formally signed a mutual non-aggression treaty known to history as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The agreement included secret protocols providing for the Nazi invasion and division of Poland. Germany’s September 1 invasion of Poland brought an immediate response from its treaty partners France and United Kingdom, who declared war on Germany on September 3. World War II had begun.

The Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland on September 17, occupying land that would otherwise would have been taken over by Germany. The Soviet government went further, however, by signing a joint statement with the Germans characterizing the partition of Poland as a fait accompli, calling for an end to hostilities, and placing the onus for any escalation of the European conflict on the governments of Great Britain and France.

Virtually overnight the political lines of the Communist parties of the world shifted. Those who were formerly the greatest cheerleaders for collective security against the danger of Germany now became staunch opponents of American intervention in the European military situation—reflective of the newly revised needs of Soviet foreign policy. All anti-fascist propaganda was immediately terminated, overt criticism of German action was minimized, the culpability of the governments of France and Britain was exaggerated. Browder’s CPUSA claimed that Hitler’s foes intended to escalate the ongoing European conflict into a counterrevolutionary offensive against the USSR.

The result of the sudden shift of the party line caused shock and confusion among many members of the Communist Party USA, a goodly number of whom had joined during the period of the Popular Front against fascism. Browder declared at one Philadelphia rally that only “a dozen or so” had left the CPUSA over the change of line; but this was simply untrue. On the contrary, the party’s ranks fell by 15% between 1939 and 1940, and recruitment of new members in 1940 fell by 75% from 1938 levels. The public image of the USSR as a main bulwark against fascism and claims of the CPUSA as an indigenous radical organization were severely undermined.

Less than a month after this broadcast, Browder was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Manhattan on Passport fraud. Despite that, he still ran a campaign and was still on the ballot in the 1940 Presidential election.

Here is one of the addresses Earl Browder gave during the Presidential Campaign on September 25, 1940.


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