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As a British A Level Modern History student, I know that the British Parliament came together in a National Government, or a coalition of all parties during World War 2 and with the exception of a few minor disagreements they stayed pretty much united until Germany's surrender in 1945.

I also know that the German Reichstag was united under the Nazis (albeit a forced unity), also both the Japanese and Soviet governments were united in their support of the war effort.

This supports a basic premise that these nations put everything they could toward the war effort, to the extent that ideology and philosophy was irrelevant in most cases.

However I do not know about the USA during this time. We hear a lot about the strong leadership of FDR and Truman, However we rarely (in Britain anyway) hear anything about Congress during this time.

Were the parties united?

I feel from my knowledge of the US system, that the parties would have carried on with partisan politics and ignored much of the war as it was happening to far away for many of them to care, but I can image that certain commitees would have been involved, (Senate Armed Forces, Intelligence etc.).

During WWII, did Congress show solidarity with the President?

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This is really a loaded question - why do you think that "political sniping and showboating" is only peculiar to the US? And are you aware for example of the fact that in 1942 Churchill was almost replaced by Cripps as PM in a political crisis? Is that also "political sniping and showboating"? –  Felix Goldberg Apr 17 at 9:14
    
What I mean is that the British made a significant effort to come together and any dissenting views were generally held internal and not released to the public. I am referring to the political sniping etc that characterises US politics these days, I was wondering whether this kind of action was present during the war in the US –  Steven Wood Apr 17 at 9:25
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I would suggest wording it more along the lines of "Did the Republicans show solidarity with the President or did both parties continue in a partisan manner?" or in another fashion that is less slanted against the Republicans. –  Kobunite Apr 17 at 9:49
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I think it is illogical to compare a liberal democracy like the USA with the fascist regimes of the axis powers - very different concepts of the role of government, let alone the role of government in wartime. Did you do any research prior to asking the question? –  Mark C. Wallace Apr 17 at 10:50
    
I was simply saying that one way or another the governments are generally united behind the war effort, I was never taught anything about the USA in WW2 other than the battles and a bit about FDR. Germany, Japan and Britain I know far more about which is why I am asking the question. I am not comparing them other than to give example of belligerent nations whose governments were generally united behind the war irrelevant of how that unity was achieved –  Steven Wood Apr 17 at 11:10
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2 Answers 2

During WWII, did Congress show solidarity with the President?

Not really. While Congress did show solidarity as far as the war effort was concerned (and that took some effort), internal politics were very much against the President.

The 1942 midterm elections were the first to be held after the declaration of war. The Democrats barely won that election. The Republicans gained 47 seats in the House, 9 in the Senate. To make matters worse, those narrow victories included a number of southern Democrats who were Democrats in name only.

Congress cancelled several key New Deal projects as a result of this election. The list of cancelled New Deal projects includes the Civilian Conservation Corps (terminated in 1942), and the National Youth Administration and the Works Progress Administration (both terminated in 1943).

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To expand on (and slightly correct) David Hammen, the CCC and WPA were not closed because of partisan politics. They were closed because unemployment was low due to the industrialization of the war effort. They were programs designed to combat the high unemployment and were no longer needed.

As far as Congress was concerned, no. From 1938-41, Congress very much opposed the war. The American people thought it wasn't our fight and were too burned from WWI and have much care to go into Europe or Asia. Thus, the Congressmen wanted America to stay out. They wanted their constituencies to be happy. You had some Congressmen who had fought in WWI who thought we needed to go, but the majority wanted to stay out. This is why FDR had "cash and carry" deal and shared American pilots and military advisors with the British and French was so they could help out the effort without having to try and get involved.

Pearl Harbor changed America's opinions and rallied the people towards getting involved. So, for awhile in early 1942, Congress supported the effort. Then, mid-terms rolled up, and the Democrats did lose seats in the election. The Democrats were still hesitant towards a full out declaration of war, whereas the Republicans viewed it as a necessity to our own national defense. Thus, the people (who in '42 mostly supported the war) tended to side with the Republicans.

After '42, the Democrats learned from their losses in the midterms and realized that taking an anti-war stance would not help them retain control of their seat in the '44 or '46 elections.

Interesting Source: Check out the party platforms specifically from 1940 and then 1944. You can see the change in the Democratic platform from staunchly anti-war to moderate, middle of the road in 1944. UCSB-Party Platforms since 1840

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