In his weekly Mickey’s Mail eblast, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council Mickey Herbert writes “>My emotional reaction is primarily one of abject sadness, and a wish that we could return to an earlier period when we could discuss our political differences in a calm, rational way without resorting to name-calling and back-biting.”
Herbert co-founded the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team 20 years ago. From Herbert:
Perhaps it’s because the BRBC’s Government Relations & Transportation Committee met recently that my thoughts have turned to politics for this week’s Mickey’s Mail. We had a very good meeting, but we only touched briefly on our recent national election and the political events that have transpired since Inauguration Day on January 20.
I was raised in Washington, DC and grew up in the epicenter of national politics. My dad worked his whole life for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and my mom worked many years for the U. S. Census Bureau. Politics fascinated me, and I remember vividly when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated on a brutally cold day in 1961, only a few miles from our home across the state line in Prince Georges County, MD. And I was devastated when he was assassinated when I was a freshman at Swarthmore College in 1963. Early the following year, I switched my major to Political Science and have been pretty much a political junkie ever since.
The most tempestuous year for politics in my memory was 1968. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated and Richard Nixon was elected President, beating both Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy. I was in graduate business school at that time, and I do remember passionate political discussions largely revolving especially around the Vietnam War and Civil Rights. I remember the riots in Los Angeles, in Detroit, in my hometown of Washington, DC, and in Chicago at the Democrat Convention.
Our country survived that turbulent era, and, in my opinion, really has never experienced anything like it again, UNTIL NOW that is. And though my recollection of those times has been dimmed in the decades since, I actually think much of the unbridled political vitriol of today is worse than it ever was in the 1960’s.
Of course, we didn’t have smart phones, cable TV, and omnipresent social media like Facebook and Twitter in those days. But we did have statesmanlike newscasters like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and I submit that you would have been hard pressed to know their own political beliefs.
So, as my son, Mickey, would say: “OK, Dad, what’s your point?” My point is that today’s political discourse is far too coarse for my taste. That discourse is often laced with ad hominem statements that have come from intelligent friends of mine, friends that I once thought were incapable of making such statements. Note that I am not talking about substantive differences of opinion about policy.
My emotional reaction is primarily one of abject sadness, and a wish that we could return to an earlier period when we could discuss our political differences in a calm, rational way without resorting to name-calling and back-biting.
I have traveled to many countries in my life, and have loved the opportunities to experience other cultures and political systems, but I have always returned to the United States with the firmest conviction that we live in the greatest country in the world by far, by the way.
We survived the political turmoil of the 60’s. We don’t need to go there again. So, I say to all my friends on any side of the aisle, let’s tone it down, and refrain from slanderous attacks that serve no good purpose but to inflame a situation. We can and should be able to discuss our political differences in a calm and rational fashion.
Do you remember the song “Reach Out of the Darkness” recorded by the American folk duo Friend and Lover? It was recorded in October, 1967 and peaked in popularity in the summer of 1968, after the MLK and RFK assassinations.
Even if you did not live through that period, you almost certainly have heard the song. To me, that song’s message resonates just as well today as it did way back then.
In 60’s speak, we need to reach out in the darkness so that we can proclaim: “I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together.”
We need to make America kind again.