S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Elections-what has changed?

What has changed since I began voting 46 years ago? The variables have been the media, wars and regime changes, the move to presidential nomination by primaries, divided or majority governance, being able to trust the president in office, and my own personal sense of safety.

The Media - The first time Dwight Eisenhower was elected to the presidency in 1952, I was living at home. Our family listened to the convention results on the radio. The nominees were decided at the conventions in those days. I was married by the next presidential election, but too young to vote. We watched the election results on television, however, as Eisenhower handily defeated Adlai Stevenson. Because he was a revered World War II general, we were sure he could keep the country safe from Russia.
The Cold War - By then we were in the Cold War, with a decades-long threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over everything. When Eisenhower was elected to his second term in 1956, the only real question was whether Richard Nixon was to be the Vice-presidential nominee.
The Searing Sixties - Four years later I voted for John F. Kennedy, who won in a close election. He was the first man to be elected because of television; he won the debates with Nixon. We came to the brink of nuclear war, but his guiding hand and a cooperative Russian avoided that fate.
Never the same - He was my president and he was assasinated. I was 26 years old, a stay-at home mom with four small children. Things were never quite the same for me after that. I did not feel safe. If you were alive in the 1960's, the world changed for you, too. Trust in the whole system was shaken, and many of us were the "shakers." We were in the Vietnam war, one in which we should never have become involved.
Nixon's betrayal of trust - It is too bad Nixon did not get side tracked at that time of Eisenhower's second presidential term. The nation would have been much less shaken with anxiety and anger in the seventies. The 1970's resignation of Richard Nixon after Watergate restored my confidence in the nation's system of checks and balances. We were safe again.
Conventions vs. primaries, a mixed bag - A series of Republican presidents, except for Jimmy Carter's single term, left me worrying about the well being of the country, particularly its most vulnerable citizens. The Cold War ended on Reagan's watch, however, and he probably deserves some credit for that. Russia and the United States and the former Soviet Union began dismantling their nuclear arsenals, making the whole world safer for a time. And the primary system was now deciding the presidential nominations. This amounted to a more direct election by the people, rather than through party conventions.
Divided governance - It was not until the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 that I again regained deep confidence in the electoral process and in "my president." Despite the Democrats losing Congress at the mid-term elections, and Clinton's impeachment for scandalous behavior, I never worried whether the United States would come through safely.
Bush's betrayal of trust - I lost confidence in the electoral process itself in 2000. And I have not regained confidence since then. Moreover I never had any confidence in the current president, whom I do not consider to be "my president" in the sense I felt that in the past.
It is time to try divided governance again - In the 1990's divided governance worked pretty well. The economy was healthy, there was a budget surplus, war was minimal, the welfare rolls were dropping, and the executive branch was populated with competent officials. I believe the country would be better off to have this in place again, starting with the Congressional mid-term elections this year.

First 2006 then 2008 - Hat tip to Kos for this. According to the AP and this ABC News headline,
The 2008 Democratic convention
Eleven cities have shown interest in playing host to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, twice the number of cities that applied to get the 2004 gathering. The DNC initially sent out letters to more than 30 cities, giving them an overview and finding out their level of interest. The 11 cities that said they were interested: Anaheim, Calif.; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; New Orleans; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix and San Antonio.
It has been five years since I have felt really safe under the auspices of a competent president and a functional congress. I want to feel hopeful and safe again. I am starting right now to focus on the March primaries, then onward and upward to November.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about the Ides of March.

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