Our phone conversation was polite even though we were discussing politics. There is little need to rehash the particulars, it's not the topic I wish to cover. There were differences, to be sure. She was somewhat younger, she had been born after Kennedy was assassinated.
She had never experienced a politics of hope.
The day Kennedy took office was the day World War II ended. Not in any political sense and certainly not in a historical one. It was a mind-set of new possibilities, replacing the old ones of warfare, hot and cold. It was a change that threw off a lot of old baggage, a change that offered people hope. Eisenhower, perhaps the most brilliant general in the history of the world, was keenly aware that the war-machine of the forties and fifties, the "military-industrial complex", had to be throttled down and made subservient to the greater world national interests. After years of war, the country had problems at home that needed to be addressed. Kennedy's "New Frontier" suggested that all domestic problems could be alleviated with a concerted national effort, led by his team of "The Best and the Brightest." Along with his brother Robert, who was perhaps the only attorney general we've ever had that was truly concerned about the equality of our civil rights, JFK spurred numerous programs that actually improved the quality of life of millions of Americans: Medicaid, the Peace Corps, the Space Program, the Civil Rights Act of 1965- all these and many more had their roots in Kennedy's vision.
We are now at a similar watershed point. The differences in the two parties, hidden for many years, has started to emerge again. McCain's party of war, of division, of criminal immorality, of thinly disguised racism and class warfare is wallowing in its own crapulence. The reborn Democrats, under Barack Obama's charismatic leadership, have, at least for a short time, quit their self-destructive infighting. If Obama wins there will be a dramatic and immediate improvement in international relations. He understands that there is no "US and THEM" anymore. The recent financial crisis has proven that beyond any shadow of doubt. If McCain wins, his "Maverick" approach will be the exact same path that Dubya has been using, with the same disastrous results.
Domestic issues will be much harder to solve. Once the economy is fixed, other problems will improve slowly. In the last eight years the working class has been relentlessly pushed towards poverty by all sorts of political malfeasance. McCain's insistence upon pre-emptive war as a first resort ("Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb,bomb Iran") will only further weaken the economy. Obama's plans, which will certainly be tested and modified, at least recognizes that a strong economy for all will make a strong country. McCain's "Trickle-down" economics by its very name is an insult to every working American.
And then there is the unthinkable. John Kennedy's assassination killed the man, but not his ideas. Robert Kennedy's and Martin Luther King's assassination killed the ideas. Let us pray.