I have now lived through 18 Presidential Election cycles.
I don’t remember anything about the first one, of course, because I was only 2 years old in 1948 when former Vice-President Harry Truman won his full term as president, after inheriting the job when FDR died in 1945. If you remember your Funny Moments in American History, you will remember that his win was even more of a last-minute upset than the recent Trump/Clinton race, as seen by the Chicago Tribune headline that was printed up prematurely that indicated his rival, Thomas Dewey, had won.
On election night, November 2, 1948, Truman snuck away from reporters covering him in Kansas City and made his way to nearby Excelsior Springs, Missouri, a small resort town. He got a hotel room, took a bath, and went to sleep. Throughout the night, radio reports confidently predicted that, despite a Truman lead, the late returns would propel Dewey to victory.
Throughout the night, returns were coming in slow, which made the news difficult to report. Adding to the challenge, the regular Chicago Daily Tribune printers and typesetters were on strike leaving inexperienced employees at the helm. With time running out before the printing deadline, the inexperienced and certainly exhausted Tribune staff ran the “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” headline.
…Shortly after delivery of the early edition proclaiming Dewey as the new president, it became apparent to the Tribune staff that Truman would win. Great alarm and panic surely set in at the Tribune Tower. Staff was immediately sent out with any vehicle available to gather the error papers from news stands and homes.
Around 4 a.m., Truman awoke in his hotel room and heard on the radio the good news of his certain victory. He quickly rode back to Kansas City.
While the stressed Tribune staff scrambled to collect newspapers that morning, Truman began a calm and victorious train ride from Kansas City to Washington, DC. During a brief stop at the St. Louis Union Station, Truman was given a copy of the Tribune as he stood on the rear platform of the train. Reporters asked Truman to pose with the paper and comment. Truman proudly displayed the issue and responded that “this is for the books.” Sure enough, the image of Truman holding the error “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” edition of the November 3, 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune is now featured in practically every high school history book. [Source]
But I do remember the 1952 election. I had just entered first grade in Dayton, Ohio, and one day in early fall, I came home from school and shocked my dyed-in-the-wool-lifetime-Democrat parents by enthusiastically and cheerfully parroting the new slogan I’d learned in class that day—“I Like Ike!”
Obviously our teacher didn’t really “teach” us to say that. Looking back, I’m going to guess we received our copy of the My Weekly Reader kiddie newspaper that day, and read some small story—in Dick and Jane reader vocabulary—about the upcoming election in America. Which may have included the mention that famous General Eisenhower was running for president, his nickname was Ike, and thus his supporters were using the slogan “I Like Ike.” I can almost imagine that Dick and Jane story: “See Ike. See Ike run for President. Run, Ike, run!” Well, it might not have been quite like that…but probably pretty close.
But then again, I doubt that we would have been shown in school Ike’s political TV ad that featured the cheery little song about Ike that went with it. I’ll bet those little tikes who saw this catchy video jingle of “I like Ike” made it a common tune around many households…Republican and Democrat…in the coming months.
And I’ll bet in many Republican suburbs, grade school kids proudly wore their I Like Ike buttons…and Ike and Dick buttons…to school.
By the time of the next election cycle in 1956, I was in fifth grade, and had become fully indoctrinated into my parents’ political party of choice. We had moved to the small far northern Michigan town of Traverse City that was historically almost all-Republican. But my parents took me to Democrat party meetings, where I learned that my heroes for that year were Adlai Stevenson for president, and Michigan’s own popular governor, G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams running for his fourth two-year term as governor. As the honkin’ big “lenticular” campaign buttons put it that year (the kind where you tilt it back and forth to see two different pictures), “Make It Emphatic—Vote Straight Democratic.”
Williams’ mother was heiress to the fortune built by the Mennen family’s “men’s personal care item” (soaps, deodorants, shaving cream, etc.) brand, and thus her son Gerhard was nicknamed “Soapy” for most of his life.
Soapy’s brother gave him a green and white polka-dot tie for an inaugural present for his first term as governor in 1948, and from then on that became his “signature look”:
Thus, in addition to your Emphatic Lenticular campaign buttons, every gung-ho Democrat kid (and adult) wore little metal lapel clips in the shape of a green bowtie to show your enthusiasm for Soapy.
When the local government brought in real “voting booths” and put them in the school’s hallways so we could have a “pretend election” as part of our civics education, it was no secret how all the kids voted. Nobody wanted to keep their ballot choice secret…in our fifth grade class, one other kid and I were the only ones who followed the advice on the campaign buttons we proudly wore, to “Vote Straight Democratic.”
All the other kids in class instead proudly proclaimed (with their boring non-lenticular buttons):
At 10 years old in 1956 I had little actual interest in the presidential election. Of course I knew nothing really about politics. And beyond that, who at my age could get excited and enthused about choosing between two old funny-looking balding guys?
The situation was different four years later, for the 1960 election, when I was a freshman in high school. A political party had finally selected a vibrant younger man—with a full head of hair!—to be its standard-bearer.
It didn’t hurt that he had a really pretty, stylish young wife, too!
And an adorable little daughter.
His youthful looks and promise of a New Era in America of youthful optimism made him wildly popular on the campaign trail.
Now this kind of pop-culture presidency I could get my teeth into! I was excited when he won the election. The photogenic couple didn’t disappoint, adding an adorable baby boy to the mix within the year.
All this made for regular fun magazine photo spreads, in the White House and on vacation.
The term “First Family” really fit for a change, making them seem almost like part of your own family.
Yes, for one brief season many optimistic Americans felt like the country had almost entered the fairy tale world of Camelot, as portrayed in a popular Broadway Musical that was a hit on Broadway just as Kennedy took office.
You may remember the lyrics to the theme song from the musical:
A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot.
And there’s a legal limit to the snow here
The winter is forbidden till December
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order, summer lingers through September
I know it sounds a bit bizarre,
But in Camelot, Camelot
That’s how conditions are.
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than
If you didn’t pay too close attention to the world news headlines, and just focused on the “hope” that exuded from the young president and his family, you could squint your eyes almost closed and imagine that America COULD become Camelot!
It promised to be a Camelot based not on a dictatorial king, but rather on a king who seemed to want to lead by inspiring his subjects to cooperate with him to create that Camelot. A Camelot of caring and service. Kennedy’s inaugural speech set the tone for this, with his urgent plea that Americans “ask what they could do for their country.” Within months, he had inaugurated the Peace Corps:
The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand American culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries. The work is generally related to social and economic development. Each program participant, a Peace Corps Volunteer, is an American citizen, typically with a college degree, who works abroad for a period of two years after three months of training.
The program’s stated purpose:
“To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.
From 1961 to 2015, nearly 220,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and served in 141 countries.” [Source]
At the same time, all sorts of young people were also becoming avid participants in the Civil Rights Movement, with white college-age students from the North volunteering their time to travel to the South and work on helping with such projects as voter registration of poor blacks.
And in the midst of it all was Kennedy’s audacious announcement to a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961:
…I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth…But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon—if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
Yes, it almost felt for a short time like the people of the US were up to the task of joining their efforts to build a bright new Camelot as a beacon to the world.
It felt like that IF you squinted a lot and didn’t pay attention to your peripheral vision. Because arrayed around those bright spots pointing to a bright future…a lot was happening during that first Camelottian year that was much darker…
The Cold War, that had started shortly after WW2 was over, was in full flower. And thus, at that same May 25 congressional meeting where Kennedy announced his Space Goals, he also announced THIS:
One major element of the national security program which this nation has never squarely faced up to is civil defense. This problem arises not from present trends but from national inaction in which most of us have participated. In the past decade we have intermittently considered a variety of programs, but we have never adopted a consistent policy. Public considerations have been largely characterized by apathy, indifference and skepticism; while, at the same time, many of the civil defense plans have been so far-reaching and unrealistic that they have not gained essential support.
This Administration has been looking hard at exactly what civil defense can and cannot do. It cannot be obtained cheaply. It cannot give an assurance of blast protection that will be proof against surprise attack or guaranteed against obsolescence or destruction. And it cannot deter a nuclear attack.
We will deter an enemy from making a nuclear attack only if our retaliatory power is so strong and so invulnerable that he knows he would be destroyed by our response. If we have that strength, civil defense is not needed to deter an attack. If we should ever lack it, civil defense would not be an adequate substitute.
But this deterrent concept assumes rational calculations by rational men. And the history of this planet, and particularly the history of the 20th century, is sufficient to remind us of the possibilities of an irrational attack, a miscalculation, an accidental war, [or a war of escalation in which the stakes by each side gradually increase to the point of maximum danger] which cannot be either foreseen or deterred. It is on this basis that civil defense can be readily justifiable–as insurance for the civilian population in case of an enemy miscalculation. It is insurance we trust will never be needed—but insurance which we could never forgive ourselves for foregoing in the event of catastrophe.
Once the validity of this concept is recognized, there is no point in delaying the initiation of a nation-wide long-range program of identifying present fallout shelter capacity and providing shelter in new and existing structures. Such a program would protect millions of people against the hazards of radioactive fallout in the event of large-scale nuclear attack. Effective performance of the entire program not only requires new legislative authority and more funds, but also sound organizational arrangements.
Therefore, under the authority vested in me by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1958, I am assigning responsibility for this program to the top civilian authority already responsible for continental defense, the Secretary of Defense.
The need for such precautions was clarified on August 13 that year, when the Berlin Wall was erected by the Soviet Union.
It became even more obvious on October 30 when the Soviets tested—above ground—the largest thermo-nuclear weapon ever detonated, even up to this day. Nick-named the Tsar Bomba (King Bomb), its strength was 57 megatons (of TNT).
The largest US device ever tested by the US was 15 megatons.
For comparison, the Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kilotons. (NOT “megatons”… kilotons. One megaton is the equivalent of 1000 kilotons.) Here’s what the aftermath looked like in Hiroshima.
Think this through…the Tsar Bomba, at about 60 megatons, was NOT just “4 times” the destructive power of that Hiroshima bomb which was 15 kilotons. It was 4 THOUSAND times! Here’s the description of the aftermath of the Tsar Bomba test:
All buildings in the village of Severny (both wooden and brick), located 34 mi from ground zero within the Sukhoy Nos test range, were destroyed. In districts hundreds of kilometers from ground zero [100 kilometers is 62 miles] wooden houses were destroyed, stone ones lost their roofs, windows and doors, and radio communications were interrupted for almost one hour. One participant in the test saw a bright flash through dark goggles and felt the effects of a thermal pulse even at a distance of 170 mi. The heat from the explosion could have caused third-degree burns 62 mi away from ground zero. A shock wave was observed in the air at Dikson settlement 430 mi away; windowpanes were partially broken to distances of 560 mi. Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage at even greater distances, breaking windows in Norway and Finland. … Sensors continued to identify the shockwaves after their third trip around the world. [Source]
No wonder there was concern about “civil defense.” Although…the reality is that there WAS no “civil defense” program that could actually defend citizens from the aftermath of such apocalyptic power. The attempts to create one were more “cosmetic” and “psychological”—soothing the temptation of the populace to panic—than practical. For of course in an era of “mutual assured destruction” where both powers had not just one nuclear bomb they could launch at each other but hundreds or thousands (the US had 18,638 such weapons in 1960)… there really was “no place to hide.”
And as for those altruistic young people who enthusiastically headed off from college in the North to “help” in the South…they weren’t just giving their time and energy.
They were risking their safety…and their lives, as seen in this article from the May 1961 Birmingham, Alabama, newspaper regarding the Freedom Ride efforts to integrate buses in the South.
Becoming a Freedom Rider in 1961 was every bit as dangerous as becoming a Peace Corps worker in a distant land!
So in some ways, perhaps more in hopes rather than reality, the notion of the Kennedy years as a type of Camelot has a bit of validity.
During an interview [on July 24, 1969] Jackie O. shared that JFK was a fan of the Broadway musical Camelot, which had music written by Alan Jay Lerner, one of Kennedy’s schoolmates at Harvard University. “Camelot” refers to a kingdom ruled by the mythical King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. In an interview, she said that “There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot.” This echoed a line from the musical when the King Arthur character says, “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment, that was known as Camelot.” [Source]
But just like the musical on Broadway, the Washingtonian Camelot was only an illusion that lasted for a short time. Reality hit in October, 1962, when our version of the fairy-tale King Arthur had to deal with the real world dragons of the Cold War in the “Cuban Missile Crisis.”
I can still remember perching on an ottoman close to our little black and white TV at 7 PM on October 22 and listening to the President of the US intone:
“I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of world domination, and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and to transform the history of man. He has an opportunity now to move the world back from the abyss of destruction—by returning to his government’s own words that it had no need to station missiles outside its own territory, and withdrawing these weapons from Cuba—by refraining from any action which will widen or deepen the present crisis—and then by participating in a search for peaceful and permanent solutions. .
“The Abyss of Destruction”?? That was heavy talk for a high school sophomore to hear. “Politics” seemed much more real to me after that.
But Chairman Khrushchev backed down, and within a few months, Camelot seemed to have returned. Jack and Jackie and the kiddos were back in full color in all the magazines, Jackie always sporting her latest fashionable outfit perfectly matched most times to one of her signature pillbox hats.
But not for long. The last happy photos to be taken of the vibrant couple were early on November 22, 1963, as they arrived in Dallas…
… for a personal appearance in a motorcade.
But by the end of the day, Camelot had ended.
As a high school senior at that point, I was devastated. Looking back, I realize that at the time I still really knew nothing about politics. All I really knew was about the public face of politicians…including, of course, John Kennedy. I was oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t REALLY anything like a mythical King Arthur. He was just a flawed man who probably honestly, at times, wanted to—and tried to—make a difference in the world, but at other times no doubt focused on satisfying his own ego needs.
What I do know for sure is that at the assassination of John Kennedy I lost all optimism for the future of America. It suddenly seemed a very dark place. And “current events” and “politics” in the coming months and years merely intensified that sensation.
In my freshman year in college in 1964, the two political parties certainly didn’t do anything to allay my anxieties.
The Democrats insisted that if the nation chose Barry Goldwater for president, we would be staring down into that nuclear Abyss of Destruction again, as they made abundantly clear in the iconic “Daisy Girl” political ad from that year.
The Republicans, on the other hand, insisted that if the voters chose Lyndon Johnson for president, their grandchildren would be doomed to live under Communism, as they emphasized in their famous “In Your Heart You Know He’s Right” ad for Barry Goldwater.
The nation chose to chance the Communist threat, and voted in Lyndon Johnson. Barry was wrong…a Communist America never materialized. But those who voted for Lyndon Johnson, assuming that he would be able to negotiate peace in the world, were also sadly mistaken. At the time of the election, the US had committed less than 17,000 troops to the festering “military situation” in South Vietnam. In March 1965, Johnson approved sending 3,500 Marines to “help” the situation…which ballooned to a force of 200,000 by December that year. Which fostered the beginning of a very active Anti-War movement in the US.
The grim reality that neither party seemed to have a clue how to maneuver the country through the chaos of the world at the time left me with a real distaste for national politics. And nothing improved that impression in the coming years.
Richard Nixon tried to convince Americans he wasn’t a crook.
He didn’t succeed.
Bill Clinton tried to convince America that he didn’t have sexual relations with that woman.
He didn’t succeed either.
As a result of all this, and a whole lot more since then, I’ve not been all that impressed with any of the candidates on any side in the national elections for many years. My personal “value system” and “worldview” tends to emphasize a desire for social justice for all Americans, cooperative efforts led by the government to care for and uplift the masses of poor in the nation, rights to collective bargaining for workers, a concern for environmental issues, and a desire for such things as universal health care. So it has been natural for me to find my concerns more in alignment much of the time with the main points in platforms of the Democratic party than the Republican in recent decades. But I have always felt that there were many Republicans, both politicians and average citizens, who do share at least some of my concerns. And that honest, decent, caring people could in good conscience be part of either party.
I might have been disappointed in some election years when a Republican candidate was chosen, who then would undermine some of the programs and policies which I felt had been good for the country. But I have never felt that a Reagan or a Bush was going to somehow totally lead the country to hell in a handbasket, and I did not doubt their basic good intentions, even if I didn’t agree with their methods. And I was also confident that the “balance of power” in the system, with a large number of both Democrats and Republicans (along with some Independents) in both houses of Congress, would provide a measure of “middle of the road” legislation.
And although I was never particularly fond of many of the presidents, I have felt that almost all of them deported themselves in a “presidential” manner and represented the country with some level of dignity and respectability both at home in the US and on the international stage.
On a personal level, I have had friends over the years from a wide variety of political persuasions, including Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Socialists, and Libertarians, as well as many who, for various reasons, avoided any political involvement at all. We’ve gotten along just fine. I understood most of their positions, and while I might not have agreed with them, I found most to have at least some logical foundation for their choices.
I have long considered myself basically “a-political,” without any particular loyalty to any branch of partisan politics. I have had opinions on specific issues, which I would suppose many of my friends would often label “liberal” in a general way. But that would be because of my own very personal worldview that I’d developed over the decades of my life based on experience and study, not based on affiliation with some political party, or loyalty to any particular “movement” or candidates.
I have never had any interest in arguing “partisan politics” with anyone. I’ve never seen any fruit be born from such arguments, since people come to them with their own position firmly in place. The goal never seems to be to come from polar-opposite positions and somehow “reason” toward some sort of consensus. It is just to attempt to “score points” against those who do not happen to agree with you, and overwhelm them with your rhetorical powers.
Yes, it has been my experience over the years that it is possible to “disagree on politics” but remain friends.
HAS been my experience, that is. I can no longer claim that. A seismic shift has just occurred in this country that has made this experience obsolete. It has shocked me to the core, and shaken whatever optimism I have had over the years that American Democracy can function via “finding common ground,” and that such “compromising and good will” promised to lead to a nation that is becoming mature.
Looking back over the history of the nation since the Civil War, I had assumed that, although the road has been rocky, the nation has been ever-so-gradually growing toward being the City on the Hill, the Light to the World that its founding fathers hoped it would become. I had assumed that we would keep gradually growing toward more and more “equality” of justice, toward concern for the environment, toward kindness and compassion and empathy between races and ethnic groups and classes. I had assumed the average American agreed with the words of Emma Lazarus’s poem in the base of the Statue of Liberty…about welcoming the poor, the huddled masses, the homeless.
The environmental movement that had started in the era of Teddy Roosevelt with institutions such as the Sierra Club seemed to be growing stronger and stronger and more widely accepted by the early years of the 21st century, with concern for air and water and animals and soil being embraced as of great importance. Civil Rights and justice and respect for minorities was one of our nation’s most difficult challenges, and the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s-70s did not make the progress it did without much sacrifice and suffering… and deaths. But it SEEMED that so much progress had finally been made that some, even just a year or two ago, proclaimed, “The US HAS no ‘race problem’ any longer!”
But just as November 22, 1963, changed everything, and brought the illusion of Camelot to an end, November 8, 2016, brought the illusion of an ever-improving country to an end.
Almost half the nation, as it turned out, didn’t WANT the improved nation, and didn’t want more improvements to continue. They wanted to drag the nation back to a time…ANOTHER time of illusion…when they believed the country was Great. I guess that meant to most of them the America of the 1950s. An era that prominently featured segregated drinking fountains, segregated bathrooms, segregated restaurants, segregated hospitals, segregated motels, segregated schools, Jim Crow laws, open (rather than sneaky) voter suppression, women “in their place” at home making babies and keeping their opinions to themselves, the “freedom” of white males to fling around any put-downs and mocking words they wanted such as “retard” and “nigger.”
That group, who comprised almost-half-of-the-nation’s voters, had been promised by a would-be mythical King that he, and he alone could take them there, and they believed him. And are now preparing to march to the battlefront with him and cheer him on with roars, as he works his magic to totally dismantle most of what many people considered progress in America, and restore that magical Kingdom of the Fabulous Fifties.
I LIVED in the 1950s. I have not the SLIGHTEST desire to go back to almost anything about that era. It was NOT the world you see on TV in Happy Days, or in Father Knows Best. Those were illusions when they were made, not reflections of the real world. The 1950s were NOT prosperous, happy days for huge portions of the US population. They were happy days for a privileged minority that blinded its eyes to the reality around them and forged an illusory “American Dream” behind the walls of their segregated suburbs—by throwing themselves into a frenzy of conspicuous consumption that fueled the economy for a short time to give the illusion of unlimited prosperity. It is their Happy Days that you see in the ads on the pages of magazines from that era, that evidently make so many folks nostalgic now.
But no matter. What I hope for or want is now irrelevant. What I get is their view of a totally different kind of Camelot. With a different sort of king. A king who doesn’t inspire them to want to help the poor and those less fortunate than themselves… a king who instead encourages them to resent those people. A king whose family is also on display as Kennedy’s was, and admired…but not for the same type of reasons. Instead, his subjects are just allowed to admire from afar the very, very kingly material lifestyle that he and his family enjoy.
Yes, I guess we are now going back to a kind of Camelot, but one that is more like a nightmare than a dream. Because this King Arthur wannabee has none of the nobility of the mythical King Arthur. The Camelot musical and movie were based on the modern book by Terence White, The Once and Future King, published in 1958, a retelling of the Arthurian myth. In it White chronicled this about Arthur:
Merlyn, knowing the boy’s destiny, teaches Arthur (known as “Wart”) what it means to be a good king by turning him into various kinds of animals: fish, hawk, ant, goose, and badger. Each of the transformations is meant to teach Wart a lesson, which will prepare him for his future life.
Merlyn instills in Arthur the concept that the only justifiable reason for war is to prevent another from going to war, and that contemporary human governments and powerful people exemplify the worst aspects of the rule of Might.
Unfortunately, the head of our new nightmarish Camelot had no Merlyn to instill any such things in him. Instead, the chronicle of the past two years, as seen in public appearances by the man (as well as documentation about his character, attitudes, personal habits, values, methods, and plans that have been written and spoken about him in the broadcast and publishing media)…you might say “exemplifies the worst aspects of the rule of Might.”
Even in the darkest times for the country during my lifetime of 70 years, including the Cold War, the Vietnam war, the chaotic Civil Rights era, and the scandals of Nixon and Clinton, I have never, ever worried about the basic future of my country. Even though I personally disliked some of the political leaders of the country during all those years, I have never worried that any of them were capable of destroying the very foundations of the Democratic Way of the US.
NOW I am worried. And I believe that I have sound reasons for my concerns. Early on in Donald Trump’s campaign, I just considered him somewhat of a buffoon, a loud-mouthed egotist who liked to brag about his wealth. That all changed on January 23, 2016.
At a campaign stop [at a Christian Reformed Church College] in Iowa on Saturday [January 23], Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he could shoot someone in public and still not lose any voters.
“They say I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” he said. “It’s like incredible.”
Trump said his supporters were smart and loyal, citing his strong poll numbers and criticizing his opponents as “soft” during the stop in Sioux Center, Iowa, according to reports by multiple outlets.
Those are not the words of just an “enthusiastic candidate”…they are the words of a psychopath. Only a psychopath could gloat about having followers he considered so blindly loyal. AND … call them “smart”!
It went downhill from there. On May 25, speaking in Bismarck, North Dakota, after the state gave him the final delegates he needed to cinch the nomination, Trump declared:
“Politicians have used you and stolen your votes. They have given you nothing. I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for 50 years. I’m the only one.”
Those are not the words of a presidential candidate, just exaggerating promises of a “chicken in every pot.” They are the words of a megalomaniac, making practically “messianic” claims!
And it hit rock bottom on a PBS Frontline TV special that aired on September 27.
Omarosa Manigault, a reality-show personality who joined the Trump campaign as a staffer in July [his “Director of African American Outreach”], told PBS—out loud, on the record, on camera—“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.” [Source]
Yes, that is not just careless campaign rhetoric … that is almost a direct paraphrase of biblical wording about every knee bowing and every tongue confessing Jesus Christ is Lord.
Eight years ago, one of the more common Republican criticisms of then-Sen. Barack Obama was that he had a “messianic streak.”
Try to imagine what the reaction might have been if an Obama campaign aide had said, “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Obama.”
These quotes above only barely begin to pinpoint my concerns about the upcoming Presidency of Donald Trump. As I wrote in the previous series on this blog, I am now convinced that a proper response to this is not to just try to tune out what is happening, and hope that the country can survive four…or eight…or…more…years with this man in power. The proper response is that Somebody MUST Say Something.
And of course, many somebodies, from journalists to commentators to average citizens with blogs, are doing just that. I appreciate every one of them. They are chronicling what the man says and does, so that in perhaps the not-too-distant future, when more and more people open their eyes and look around and say, “Oh My God! How did we get here??” …the record of how we did will be there. And maybe a hint of how we can get back from the brink of the Abyss again.
I find that I also am utterly unable to just turn a blind eye to all this and just “hope for the best.” Of course I have no power to change anything that is happening on a grand scale. But I do have some gifts and skills in research and writing that I can use to add my voice to the chorus of Saying Something. I will be watching the Living History we are experiencing day by day now, and doing my best to chronicle and document carefully on this blog what I observe and discover.
And I will apply logic and reason to try to evaluate and comment upon the significance that these things, as they unfold, may have on the future of our country.
I invite you to join me in the exploration.