Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How Did Our Politics Get So Harsh? The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division

One of the great benefits of a long history is that when things get tough in America, we can look back to see how we as a people and as a nation survived other very trying experiences. The transformations of the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the last century put great strain on the country. McCarthyism in the ‘50s tried our political conscience and the upheavals and social and political transformations of the ‘60s’ shook the nations to its very roots

Riots, racism, political assassination and long seething anger all set the stage for the politics of 1968. A unique set of characters enlivened the political landscape, including Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller. The question then, as I suppose it is today, is where the politicians shaped the issues or the issues shaped and tested the politicians? National political columnist, Michael A. Cohen in American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division, makes the case that the election of 1968 tested nation and maybe even laid the predicate for where we are 48 years later.

My conversation with Michael Cohen: