Alf Landon campaigning in 1936. ljworld.com
Laura Ingalls Wilder devotees asked themselves last week how Laura might have voted in the recent election. I don’t think I have to answer that directly. Laura was approaching her later years when women were granted the vote. But assuming that she did go to the polls in her lifetime, let’s look at how she might have voted in 1936. She and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane were in the thick of their collaboration on the Little House books, shaping Laura’s pioneer and farming childhood around the themes of courage, individual rights, love of the wilderness, and optimism.
The Wilder family hated President Franklin D. Roosevelt because of his limits on farmers and the government programs they thought made Americans whiny. And so in the 1936 election, Laura would have voted for Kansan Alf Landon. The former governor and proponent of limited government lost badly. Only Maine and Vermont went to Landon, though, which does show that Midwesterners still mostly supported Roosevelt.
Landon’s interest in limited government inspired none other than former President Ronald Reagan, who visited Landon, then 100 years old, in September 1987.
“When it was out of fashion, you warned of the dangers of too much government and too much government spending,” Reagan said Reagan said, as the Los Angeles Times reported, “referring to Landon’s 1936 campaign warnings that the Social Security system was not financed soundly and that other New Deal programs would bring more taxes and regulations.”