In the summer of 1976, my family was on vacation at a dude ranch in Westchester, NY during the Republican National Convention. I was only 10-1/2, but I remember watching it eagerly in our room (bunkhouse?) with my Dad. I was already interested in politics at that point and not afraid to run counter to my parents' opinions on some things.
On the choice of President, Dad and I stood on opposite sides. I wanted Gerald Ford to get the nomination. He wanted some guy named Ronald Reagan. He said "Reagan was governor of California and did a great job, and has some great ideas on America and how we should do things at home and abroad." "No way," I said. "Ford has done a good job since being sworn in, and I think if given four years of his own, he would be really great! Besides," I added, "Reagan won't get the nomination...Ford's the incumbent."
Well, we all know what happened. Ford got the nomination, but the "four years of his own" were not to be. The country was jaded and still reeling in skepticism and anti-Nixon bias from Watergate. Ford was Nixon's VP and then went on to pardon his old boss after assuming his job. The GOP didn't have a chance. Jimmy Carter swept into office on the promise of reclaiming America's honor abroad and our pride within. Optimism abounded and liberals were in heaven. Then he started making foreign policy decisions and influencing the economy. The result was run-away double digit inflation, double-digit interest rates, an actual weakening of America's position abroad, increased threats from the Soviet Union and radical Islamic terrorists and an internal slump in pride and morale.
Then came the 1980 presidential campaign. Reagan rode the wave of discontent and gloom created by Carter into office in a landslide victory. The strength, dignity, smarts and economic policies he provided gave us everything Carter promised but couldn't deliver...and more. The thing is, Reagan probably couldn't have won, either, in 1976, because the popular desire for change was too great. If Reagan had gotten the nomination and lost in 1976, he probably wouldn't have been re-nominated in 1980 and we would have missed out on one of the best presidents this country ever had.
Thirty-two years later, Dad and I were once again on opposite sides concerning the choice of a Republican nominee. When the initial slate of prospective candidates had whittled down a bit and our mutual first choice bailed out, I supported John McCain. He wanted some guy named Mitt Romney. He said "Romney was governor of Massachusetts and did a great job. Besides, he's a savvy business man and has some great ideas how to get our economy working again and also on dealing with other countries." "No way," I said, "McCain has done a good job in the senate and I think he is ready for the presidency. Besides," I added, "Romney won't get the nomination... McCain's a war hero."
Well, we all know what happened. McCain got the nomination, but "ready for the presidency" or not, it was not to be. The country was jaded and still reeling in skepticism and anti-Bush bias from Iraq and Gitmo. McCain supported Bush on these and other issues and went on to defend those positions in his campaign. The GOP didn't have a chance. Barak Obama swept into office on the promise of reclaiming America's honor abroad and our pride within. Optimism abounds and the liberals are in heaven. Now he has started making foreign policy decisions and influencing the economy. The result...TBD...
If history is destined to repeat itself, it appears Dad may have been right...just four years ahead of schedule...again!
- New England, United States
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