Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thought For The Day

Caption: John B. Anderson, independent candidate for President in the 1980 election. In my first act of childish irresponsibility in presidential elections, I worked and voted for him.

Image credit: Warren K. Leffler/Wikimedia, converted to JPEG format by Cujo359

In answering a comment about yesterday's article, it occurred to me to wonder, all these years later, why I decided to vote for John Anderson for President in 1980. Wikipedia reminded me:
When questioned about which episode in their career they most regretted, none of the other candidates would answer the question, except Anderson, who cited his vote for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Unlike the others, he said lowering taxes, increasing defense spending, and balancing the budget was an impossible combination. In a stirring summation, Anderson invoked his father's emigration to the United States and said that we would have to make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. For the next week, Anderson's name and face were all over the national news programs, in newspapers, and in national news magazines.

Wikipedia: John B. Anderson
He was willing to speak uncomfortable truths. In retrospect, I don't think his desire to balance the budget at the time (we were in the middle of a recession caused by the oil embargo, among other things) was a wise idea, but he was the only one of the Republican candidates of the time who was willing to admit that increasing spending, lowering taxes, and balancing the budget were not possible to do all at the same time. He also said that gun owners should be licensed, a topic that wasn't popular with the GOP faithful.

Instead of nominating someone who was honest, the Republicans nominated someone who told them fairy tales about welfare queens and morning in America. That individual was then elected President. In fact, if you added up the votes that Anderson and Jimmy Carter, the other honest guy in that election, received together, they were still far fewer than Reagan received. This, I think, is when I lost all respect for the average American voter.

Image credit: Shepard Fairey/The Village Voice

Whatever solution progressives come up with to our current situation, we are certainly up against the problem that liars make better Presidential candidates than honest people. You could see that in the primary in 2008, when Hillary Clinton, whose attitudes and faults were there for all to see, lost to someone who did his best to pretend he was something he wasn't, and that his opponent was something she wasn't. He's been lying ever since, and plenty of people have yet to catch on.

Far too many Americans want to be lied to, not because they enjoy being lied to, but because they don't want to face reality.


Anonymous said...

You should read the superb new book on Anderson's campaign called No Holding Back, just released a month or two ago.

It will remind you of a campaign where the candidates were not controlled by advisors and had the best interests of the nation at the heart of the desire to seek high office.

Anderson's campaign reminded me, like those of Adlai Stevenson's had in the 1950's, that politics could be more honest, more honorable, and more pure.

Cujo359 said...

There are sadly few of those these days, at least at the national level. If there's one hopeful thing about the last few years, it's that both the Tea Party and the Occupy movements seem to recognize this. Principle is something that hardly ever enters political discussions these days.