1967 was the first year I could legally vote. I was finally 21 years old. Years after the Vietnam War was over the age was lowered to 18. It was a common sense thing to do. If a young man could be sent to war, he should have a say in who ran the country.
I was very interested, even in my early teens, in how our political system functioned. What I had been taught in school in no way portrayed what I saw on television. I remember watching President Eisenhower at the Republican convention when he was running for his second term.
What I remember most was the campaign between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. When they debated on live television in 1960, I was sitting directly in front of the television. Kennedy was impressive, to say the least. I was still forced to be a Catholic at that time, and I feared that his religion could be an obstacle in the election. Of course, it ended up being a non-issue, and Kennedy won.
I remember much about his three years in office, but two events stand out. I was a junior in high school when I firmly believed we were nearing the end of the world. For thirteen days in October 1962, I expected a nuclear bomb to be dropped on my head. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a more frightening event than the imminent threat of 10 terrorist attacks. His courage in handling the situation earned him the title of “great man” in my mind and those of many others.
The second was his assassination on November 22, 1963. I was now a senior. I heard the news walking to my 4th period class. My first thought is, “he’ll be all right, he has to be”. Less than an hour later we learned the horrific news. He was my young and courageous President. For three days we watched events over and over. Somehow, deep inside, I think I believed the next time they showed him he would be alive. That day I became a Democrat.
In 1966, I was working for Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo, California. An announcement came over the loudspeaker that at noon Gubernatorial Candidate Ronald Reagan would make a speech outside the warehouse. I am a typical Los Angeles boy, I loved the movies, and if for no other reason than the fact he was a famous actor, I wanted to watch him speak. He was impressive. He told us what we wanted to hear, I know that now, but when he was elected, he accomplished the majority of his campaign promises. I was too young to vote, but I vowed I would the next time if, he ran for re-election. I became a Republican.
So what’s my point to this long-winded story? Each time I was devoted to a candidate it was the man I believed in, not the party.
I’m 100% sure our founding fathers are looking down on the country and telling each other, “we didn’t mean for it to turn out like this”. They foresaw many of the evils that have taken place in our government, and believed they had taken steps to avoid them. They didn’t believe in a government controlled by religion. For 8 years it definitely was. Bush once told us that “God talked to him”. They were fearful of Banks becoming too powerful and being able to control the nation through economic power. They were the major reason our economy was devastated in 2008. And they didn’t believe in political parties. They believed that if there were two parties, who possessed all the power in all matters in our nation, the parties would gain, and the people would lose. That’s where we are today.
We have digressed from a congress that was made up of volunteers in the beginning, to a group of wealthy men and women, some of whom have the sad title of “professional politician”. They work when they feel like it. They vote themselves pay and benefit raises whenever it behooves them. And they work for special interests, thanks to lobbyists, more than for the American people.
Watching a government that is broken beyond repair in its present state, is an abomination to the people of our country. They obviously don’t care about their 10% approval rating, they’re not doing anything to change it.
This last fight over the so called “fiscal cliff” was the worst example yet of how political parties are destructive. On one side we had the Democrats. They were weak and dismissed their promises to the American people. Obama, Reid, and all the rest caused me to lose faith that my vote mattered. If the Republicans had placed the Democrats final plan on the table, Democrats would have rejected it.
The Republicans proved once again that they don’t care about the very people who voted for them. They care about the wealthy, and the wealthy buy their votes. They were given the majority of concessions, and they still weren’t happy. Their sub-party the so called “TEA Party Express” is a destructive force within a destructive force. They have one concern, stop any government spending at any cost. Their’s is a negative form of governing, I dare them to come up with one positive idea to revive the economy. They prefer to tear down parts of our government, our system, that took decades to accomplish.
What we need is one, just one truly courageous leader in Washington. One man or woman who will face the American people and tell them what needs to be done and how our government can do it. Maybe one will rise out of the group of freshman Congressmen and Senators sworn into the 113th congress yesterday. God, I sure hope so.
By James Turnage