Re-examining Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady: Helen Gahagan Douglas, Gender, and New Deal Liberalism in the United States Senate Election in California, 1950

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Visser, Carlie




This thesis examines the 1950 United States Senate election in California that pitted the New Deal liberal Helen Gahagan Douglas against the hard-line anti-communist Richard Nixon. By considering the election within the context of a changing economic landscape, the push to re-traditionalize gender norms following the upheaval of wartime the Douglas - Nixon senate race is a powerful example of how the subtle use of gender and sexism in political contests has historically been used to discredit women candidates. In this thesis I work to situate the Douglas vs. Nixon race within the broader nexus of American anti-communism and the politics of containment while combating some of the historical myths surrounding Douglas to demonstrate the extent to which gender and the re-orientation of liberal political philosophy in the postwar period contributed to the political defeat of one of the most promising political women of the twentieth century.


United States History
Political Science
Women's Studies




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Economy

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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