By Land Wilson
When Harry S. Truman succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was probably one of the most difficult presidential transitions in American history. War was raging in the Pacific. The gargantuan job of managing post-war Germany and rebuilding Europe was approaching. The Cold War with its nuclear arms race was about to begin.
Serving after one of our country’s most popular Presidents must have been a challenge too. Comparison to FDR was inescapable. Truman didn’t have the same popular appeal as FDR, but he had a reputation for integrity, working hard, and for getting things done. During his presidency, Truman was faced with many big decisions, which weren’t always so popular.
Many people today are unaware that during the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur, who was Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command, insisted that atomic weapons be used in North Korea and Southern China. MacArthur’s voice and lobbying for promoting his ideas on how to run the war grew so strong that Truman was forced to fire him from all his commands in Korea and Japan. The removal of MacArthur was one of the most unpopular political decisions in Presidential history and he even faced calls for impeachment. By the end of his term, he had become one of the most unpopular men to leave the White House.
Truman’s decision to remove MacArthur is now seen as incredibly wise. He is considered one of our great Presidents. Thank heavens for Truman’s steadfast strength of character to stand up for what he believed. Imagine if a “yes-man” politician were in Truman’s place. Imagine if Truman’s decision were guided by keeping up in the polls. Think about the strength of character required to stand up to one of our country’s most famous war heroes. Today, very few people would say that MacArthur’s plan to use nuclear weapons would have been a wise course of action. It would have been deplorable. China, North Korea and the rest of the world would never have forgiven us.
Today, we are at another difficult transition in history. The effects of things like global warming, species extinction, deforestation, and the build up of toxic wastes and garbage are changing Earth’s ability to sustain us. To prevail over this reality, it is going to require great leaders and people in mass working together. We have a choice of proactively transitioning to a more sustainable civilization or not.
Luckily, over the past few years, something exciting has been happening here in California, and it appears that we may have found a man who is willing to lead us in a positive direction. Tune in tomorrow, as I introduce the man who is taking significant steps to protect our environment.