The People Have the Say

Asher Rowland
2 min readNov 23, 2020

For this post, I have decided to focus on American public opinion in the 1930s and 1940s to determine if the concerns of United States citizens pushed for the cause of World War II. While it is true that Japan’s 1941 attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base thrust the United States into the war, American public opinion is ultimately what got them to the brink of joining. One major factor that was a foundation for the push for war was propaganda. Propaganda was used to shed light on threatening events happening overseas, such as German and Japanese imperialism. It also was used to create a sense of patriotism within the viewer by consistently portraying American symbols as heroes. Germany and Japan were represented as negative or evil symbols within propaganda. One notable and popular example of Pre-World War II propaganda would be the Wonder Woman and Captain America comics made by Marvel Comics. The protagonists were made to represent America, while the evil villains represented enemy countries. It is also shown in the Gallup Polls, used to measure public opinion, that disdain towards enemy countries, patriotism, and war involvement have risen since the years of the mentioned Marvel comics. Another factor that played into shifting public opinion to join the war effort is extensive media coverage of overseas events. News footage reached America in real time from tragic events happening such as the aerial bombings of Shanghai and Guernica in 1937 and Kristallnacht (the beginning of the Holocaust) in 1938. With people in America being able to witness what was happening through everything being captured on film, this created a massive leap towards interventionism in United States public opinion. The subject of public opinion remains crucially important to how our country works today. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent presidential election, the results themselves show how the public made their decision.

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