Monday, November 14, 2016

Bitter Defeats: A Life Following Politics

Live long enough, and be into politics enough, and you'll have some bitter moments.  Two of mine:
  • Hubert Humphrey was a leader in civil rights from the time he spoke to the 1948 national convention, passionately appealing for Democrats to end racial segregation.  (No, the only thing I remember from 1948 was the sound of Alben Barkley speaking--my interest in government and politics grew in following years.)  Humphrey was the standout liberal during the 50's and the author of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 1965 was the best time to be a liberal, given the Dem's majorities and LBJ's mastery of Congress, even though it was also the year I got drafted.  In a just world Humphrey would have reaped the rewards of his endeavors by succeeding LBJ in 1968 by beating Tricky Dick Nixon and the demagogue George Wallace.  Alas, the world was not just.
  • I remember listening to Ronald Reagan on radio during the 1964 campaign, speaking on behalf of Goldwater.  I think I turned him off, his assertions seemed so ill-founded, and his speaking seemed so glib.  I had problems taking him seriously even after he beat Pat Brown for governor of California, nearly beat President Ford for the 1976 nomination, and ran again for President on a platform of keeping the Panama Canal and rigid anti-communism. I knew he was a genial lightweight, who talked well but glibly and with no regard to factual accuracy.  I fastened on every straw in the wind to believe Carter would beat him as he deserved.  
  • The deaths of JFK, MLK, and RFK.  We're lucky to have survived almost 50 years without more such killings.
  • .I was disappointed by the results in other elections, notably 1988 and 2000, but as I grew older I began to have more perspective. But I haven't gained enough perspective to make 2016 less than bitter.

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