Wendell Willkie and Donald Trump - interesting parallels

In answering a post this morning I thought of an interesting historical parallel between Wendell Willkie and Donald Trump. They are both highly unusual as presidential candidates.

· Both Trump and Willkie never held public office.
· They had both been Democrats who were recentconverts to the GOP
· They were both distrusted by the GOP establishment
· They both held some liberal views.
· In his acceptance speech, Willkie once referredto his audience as “you Republicans.” It will be interesting to seeif Trump ever commits that gaff.

The Edmond Sullivan, who wrote the standard reference bookon 19th century presidential campaign medalets and badges, was a very liberal Democrat. He once told me that Willkie was the best candidate the GOP ever nominated.

Willkie ran with Charles McNary who was an establishmentRepublican senator from Oregon. Here is a jugate (a piece that shows picturesof the presidential and vice presidential nominees side by side on the samebutton) from the 1940 campaign.

When I was serving in Korea, I was wandering through an ancient Korean cemetery and ran into a small group of American tourists. We talked for awhile and one guy said to me, “You’re from Indiana, aren’t you?” I replied that I was and how would he have known that. He replied, “You sound just like Wendell Willkie!”

BTW, this was in 1961!

In 1961 it would have been easier to tell.

Regional accents went away, pretty much, in the early 1980s. That was about the time that the first generation raised on television, came of age and basically made their speech patterns the predominant ones.

Used to be you could TELL. Strongly. I know what an Indiana accent is - as of ten years ago it was still heard in some places out in the country. Not in Indianapolis and not in upper-crust company, though.

In 1981, age 23, I want to try my luck job-searching in Houston. OHhhh, the Texas twang was thick in the air…my host was a fellow Northerner, from the Buffalo, NY area…he was 25 and had lived down there for about seven years. His young wife as well. It was interesting to hear how the New York State grammar and vocabulary would meld with the adenoidal vocal habits which had changed their speech, as it would to anyone hearing it for so long.

I was down in Texas again 2011. For a brief time, even in Houston. The Texas twang is GONE. You still hear it with some older types, typically country folk who don’t talk to citified people much…but in the city? No, they all sound like Cleveland…Buffalo…Denver…Salt Lake…Seattle…take your pick. Our six-hour-a-day (typical) television habit has taken the regional dialect right OUT of our speech.

Only exception, of course, is the black dialect. But since blacks listen endlessly to hip-hop-rap and have their own cable TV channel, even more profane and with even thicker argot…THAT won’t go away any time soon.

The Texas twang is still alive just you will not hear it in any city. If the cities were representative of Texas then that baby killer, Wendy Davis, would be Governor.