150Trying to Get It Right
December 10, 2016 § 2 Comments
All 2016 Barry Sanders and Donald Trump were alone among the presidential candidates who drew big crowds. The reasons in Sanders’ case were fairly obvious: he was running against the single establishment candidate, Hilary Clinton, and had inherited the young voters who had run against Clinton for Barack Obama in 20o8. Trump is definitely anti-establishment enough, but he lies, invents, swears, doesn’t court the young or any other age group, or any easily defined ethnic group.
Clinton could not have run as any kind of anti-establishment had she wanted to: First Lady, Senator from New York, Secretary of State, half the wealthy Clinton Foundation, good at all these, good at raising money from among the wealthy. I was going to vote for Clinton. in any vote against Sanders, or any Republican. In my head I was clear: she had “earned” my vote, and I went about my business.
My parents were Democrats who had always been surrounded by Republicans in upstate New York. They had voted for FDR, “that man in the White House.” four times. I was politically conscious enough to know why I would have voted for Harry Truman in 1948 and Adlai Stevenson in 1952 if I’d been able to vote. I can say that my vote for Stevenson in 1956 was automatic. I could not possibly have voted for Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower played too much golf; Eisenhower had let Joe McCarthy get away with too much; he’d picked Richard Nixon, minted from the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, to be V P. The fifties were the fifties, not my decade. I got my Ph.d and got a job.
But I never gave a thought to why those who sent Eisenhower to slaughter Stevenson had done so. At some point I listened to Eisenhower speak thoughtfully about his relation with Nehru, which pulled me up short, and then ,of course. there was the farewell warning about the military industrial complex, and that, I think, was the last thought I gave to a Republican until this fall.
The big mistake I made along the way was Reagan. He had the perfect voice for a politician. He had chased down commies who wrote movie scripts, had a brief career in films, rose in politics to be governor of California while pushing liberals. anti-war students and academics around. Next step was pushing Jimmy Carter around in debate, and becoming president, full of confidence that Nixon and Ford lacked. His attitude toward forestry was well known”–“if you’ve seen one redwood you’ve seen them all.” He was tough with Soviets. He invaded Granada, then Lebanon. He cut budgets, he presented deficits “the politicians gave me.” He declared it is “Morning in America” and was overwhelmingly reelected.