Thoughts from Election Days Past

I am old enough to remember past election days when there were concerns about the candidates’ religion, marital status, age, and race.   Many of the fears from those other elections proved to be irrelevant, but at the time, they were real concerns for some voters.  (Alibi–these are my recollections and may or may not be accurate.)

“I am not the Catholic candidate for President.”

Religion.  John F. Kennedy was not only the youngest man elected as President, he was also the first Roman Catholic candidate.  Many voters were concerned about the Pope calling the shots if he won the Presidency.  Kenndy had to address that issue during the campaign.  Mitt Romney face similar questions about being  Mormon when he ran as a Presidential candidate in 2012.

Divorce. Gerald Ford ran for re-election in 1976, following his first term where he became president upon the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974.  He was the second husband of Elizabeth Bloomer, better known as Betty.   People were concerned about the first lady being a divorcee.  Ford served as both Vice President and President without being election.  Political differences (such as pardoning Nixon), not his marital status, caused him to lose to Jimmy Carter in 1980.  Ronald Reagan was divorced once and Donald Trump has been divorced twice.  It was a minor point of discussion for Reagan and was not one of the many concerns expressed about Trump’s candidacy.

Age.  Ronald Reagan was 69 when he ran for President the first time in 1980. At that time, he was the oldest person who had ever run for president.  People were concerned about his age.  It did not keep him from running for a second term in 1984.  At that point, age was no longer considered a factor.  He survived an assassination attempt in March 1981.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s  in 1994.  Some have speculated that he may have begun showing signs of Alzheimer’s during his second term of office.

“What didn’t he know and when didn’t he know it?”

Hillary Clinton (b. 1946) and Donald Trump were (b 1947) were both older than Reagan when they ran for president in 2016.  Age was not a big factor.  Biden (b.1942) has been discussed as a plausible Democratic nominee for 2020.

Race.  Barrack Obama was the first African American elected President.  Race was a factor in the election.  His actual birth place raced the birther question about whether he was born in the United States and was qualified to even run for president.  Some people tried to also make his religion an issue.   He was elected twice.

Observation.  To Americans, race is often defined by skin color.  Although at different times we have been known to despise almost anyone based upon race, religion, country of national origin, sexual orientation, body type, income level, education level, marital status, etc.  Canada has two official languages:  French and English.  Does that make  Canada bi-racial?