The fourth volume in this series on independent and third-party politics in the United States focuses on the 1920s, a period when the American people, longing for a return to "normalcy," rejected the idealism and liberalism of Woodrow Wilson's administration and strongly embraced the conservatism of Warren G. Harding and his successors, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. In electing Harding in a landslide, the American people made it clear that they had little interest in continuing the great wave of progressive reform that helped shape politics and the role of government in the United States from the turn of the century until 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I.
With the exception of Robert M. La Follette's momentous campaign for the White House in 1924-a year when one out of every six voters supported the Wisconsin insurgent's independent candidacy-it was a rather bleak period for America's progressive forces and a particularly painful and lonely period for the country's minor parties.
This narrative concludes with the presidential election of 1928, a year when the dignified and urbane Norman M. Thomas, Eugene V. Debs' successor on the Socialist Party ticket, polled only a tiny fraction of the more than 919,000 votes cast for his imprisoned predecessor eight years earlier. Across the board, the results were calamitous for the country's nationally-organized third parties.