Some comments to an earlier article of mine posed the contention that it does not make any difference which candidate or party gets your vote because they are essentially the same. This observation is often based on the view that our federal government is bloated, overgrown, consumptive and insatiable. The notion that any mainstream candidate is merely another player in a series of political pawns is understandable, especially for the young and impassioned. While I mostly agree about the state of the federal government, I still believe there are fundamental ideals and practices which set each party and their candidates apart from the other to justify voting for either.
I believe the differences stem from one’s personal deep convictions and core values both of which take time to develop and mature. Although currently I can only speak for myself, now an arch conservative, as a young liberal in the late 60’s,(and a more moderate one through the 70’s), my convictions ran deep, at least initially, especially during the Viet Nam War years. I was driven mostly by subjective emotion. As I moved toward liberal moderation in the 80’s, Jimmy Carter resonated with me. As it turned out, he was the last Democrat I voted for and Ronald Reagan was the first Republican.
As a teenage liberal, I viewed the choices for president to be limited and sparse. Having reached the new legal voting age of eighteen in March 1970 I was ineligible to vote in 1968’s tumultuous race, but I was rapidly becoming a political creature. I advertised my disdain for our police action in Southeast Asia with a rejoinder to the then popular bumper sticker that cleverly, (I thought), proclaimed “Viet Nam: Love it or leave it.” I ate up high school civics and finished college with an undergraduate degree in political science all while aspiring to be a guitar play in a rock band.
I was just a high school junior preceding the 1968 election. Like many teens of the time, I was a staunch and enthusiastic supporter of RFK. I grieved with great sorrow and disappointment when he was gunned down not more than 30 miles from where I lived. With his assassination my personal hope for meaningful change collapsed into a disheveled pile of fragmented causes and opinions. The unity that Bobby seemed to represent for young America was gone or at least significantly dashed from where I stood. I wondered what point there was in voting for anyone else.
Although he was his former rival, Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, (and Senator McGovern of South Dakota), tried to pick up what RFK left behind but they both lacked the charisma, devoted following and neither could muster the excitement and hope that another Kennedy president seemed to represent. When it was apparent that Senator McCarthy could not garner a competitive segment of voters, the Democratic nomination ultimately went to another, (former), senator from Minnesota, then Vice President Hubert Humphrey. That was the moment I reached my political indifference.
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