Politics hasn’t changed much
Recently, a friend of mine shook her head in aggravation with the steady barrage of political attack ads omnipresent on television during this season. She said she believed they were getting worse. I told her that I didn’t think they are any worse than they have always been. It’s just that we all have television in our homes and that means we can’t escape them — unless we declare a moratorium on watching any television news shows, sports or programs of any kind.
I don’t know why running for office seems to bring out the maliciousness of people on every level, but it does. Here is where we stretch our freedoms of speech nigh on to a breakpoint — and do it proudly. Every election time, I get disgusted anew with the insanity, but others seem to revel in it. The drumbeats do seem to get louder and longer every year, but I tell myself that it just seems that way because it has happened so many times in my life before, ergo: I’m getting old!
I became aware of the electoral process when I was a child at the dinner table. My parents would discuss the candidates with whoever else was there or just among themselves. The first election campaign I remember was that of Thomas Dewey and Harry S. Truman. I was under the impression that my parents distrusted Dewey and considered him “slick,” a major transgression in their eyes. I was under the impression that my mother didn’t trust anybody with a mustache, but I think she was just “kidding.” However, the perception Dewey’s physical attribute gave to the general public may have something to do with the fact that he was the last presidential candidate to sport facial hair.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was president during most of my school years. He seemed to be trusted by those who surrounded me during those years. He was revered for his role as a commander during World War II and especially held dear to the hearts of most Kansans because of his years spent growing up here. I remember going to the museum honoring him in Abilene during a school trip. What most surprised me during my visit was the large number of lavish and exotic gifts given to him by representatives from other countries. I have a few spelling awards and reading certificates from those years with his portrait and the American flag waving behind his head. “I like Ike,” seemed to be the key words I recall for that time.
“Ike” was the next-to-last president for whom I couldn’t vote. Back in my far distant youth, one couldn’t vote until the age of 21. I did turn my back on my staunch Republican roots when I joined the Young Democrats club at the University of Kansas just so I could hitch a ride on a bus to go see Jack Kennedy speak in Kansas City. That was before he was elected president. I don’t remember what he had to say, but I do remember how handsome he was and how beautiful Jackie appeared. He seemed much younger than his actual years — almost like a movie star. I suspect his appearance had a good deal to do with his popularity. I still couldn’t vote for him because I was too young.
Really, after enduring a good many more electoral processes, I have gleaned the following wisdom for potential political candidates. Look like a movie star, smile a whole, whole lot and do absolutely nothing that would look mildly scandalous, and be extremely careful to choose equally boring friends and families.