When I was in grade school, during the presidential debates, our teacher decided to hold a debate in class, assigning students to represent the then candidates, Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. The two first ran against each other in 1952, which would have made me eight years old, a bit young for political debate, so I’d guess it was in 1956, which would put me in seventh grade. I was assigned to Eisenhower. I asked my Dad for some help and he gave me what he considered a silver bullet. Just talk about Stevenson’s support for Social Security, he said. Then tell them that’s socialism. My Dad said socialism with the kind of disdain he usually reserved for fishermen who make a racket and scare the fish. His silver bullet seemed to fall on deaf ears in class and ironically, Social Security would be largely responsible for his quality of life in his later years. Eisenhower won without my help.
In 1972, married and living in California, I attended a concert at the L.A. Music Center … it was titled Three for McGovern, a benefit for Democratic candidate George McGovern. If my Dad had found out, I would have told him it was to see the stars of the show … James Taylor, Carole King and Barbra Streisand … but that was only partly true. I was a strong supporter McGovern’s primarily anti-war campaign. The concert was marvelous … and McGovern lost in a landslide, even with my help.
The point is that I have wandered the political spectrum in my 53 years voting. I’ve mostly regarded myself as socially liberal (supporting civil rights and women’s rights, for example) but conservative on defense and fiscal issues. But events and circumstances have sometimes pulled me (or pushed me) left or right. So here I sit, a patriotic senior citizen who has voted in every election, wondering. Where has the country gone in my 71 years? If you had told me fifteen years ago that an avowed socialist would have a chance to be the democratic nominee, I’d have suggested you should seek psychological counseling (See, dad, I was listening). Then again, who would have imagined a bombastic boor who seems intent on insulting everyone who disagrees with him and treats the Republican primaries like a reality show would have a chance to be the Republican nominee? Seriously, who ever thought this would be the case?