The problems facing America in 1960 were significantly different than those now facing our country in 2008. John Kennedy was the Democratic nominee in 1960 and faced Richard Nixon, who may have been the most insecure man ever to have gained national prominence, in the general election. Our country’s enemies at that time were quite different than those we face today and Russia was the country posing the greatest threat to our national security. The fears of communism and nuclear war were discussed on a daily basis in some form or other by the politicians of that day. Our country was in need of a real leader in 1960 – one who could take the United States to greater respect on the international stage and who could at the same time bring about needed change at home. The differences in Kennedy and Nixon were most significant – Kennedy offered “hope for the future” and Nixon projected “gloom and despair.” The American people would have a clear choice on Election Day that year, but there was one major problem for the Democratic ticket. John Kennedy had to overcome the fact that he was Catholic. Many people were concerned over the perceived influence the Pope might have over affairs of government if the Senator from Massachusetts was elected president. Fortunately, the voters were smart enough to make the right choice in 1960 and our country was better for it. John Kennedy accepted his party’s nomination in 1960 with these words:
Give me your help – your hand – your voice – your vote! Recall with me the words of Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as Eagles; they shall run and not be weary.”
The man who would be the standard-bearer for the Democratic Party and the spokesman for ordinary citizens in the months to follow then concluded his remarks by saying:
As we face the coming challenge, we too shall wait upon the Lord, and ask that He renew our strength. Then shall we be equal to the test. Then shall we not be weary. And then we shall prevail.
There are lots of parallels between the times of John Kennedy and the current times we as Americans face. The Republican President, who was completing his term, would leave an unsettled world on the international stage and numerous problems at home. President Eisenhower attempted to pass the mantel to his Vice-President, and we know how that turned out. Now in 2008, an unpopular president with approval ratings of only 27% – the lowest in history – is attempting to have as his successor Senator John McCain, a man who is taking on all of the problems that the Bush-Cheney-Rove Administration has created. Frankly, the American people don’t want four more years of Bush rule. The type leadership our country has experienced during the Bush years should be a virtual guarantee that the voters will elect a Democratic president. It’s my belief that the only way for Senator McCain to be elected is for the Democratic Party to really mess up! I would encourage the Democratic nominee and the folks running his campaign to consider the source of John Kennedy’s inspiration before beginning the journey toward November.
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