I was not old enough to vote when Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964, but I paid attention to the news and was interested in politics (strictly from an observational position). It did not scare me that he could become president of the United States. And I think I probably thought that political attack ad beginning with the little girl picking daisies and ending with a nuclear mushroom cloud was a little over the top.
Actually, in retrospect we probably should have been concerned that LBJ would be elected, and of course he was, and of course history (tapes of phone calls) shows us that he knew from the beginning that Vietnam was hopeless but nonetheless thrust us into the quagmire with as much as a half million troops and then ten years later we pulled out after sustaining nearly 60,000 war dead and thousands of gravely injured and a drain on our economy felt for decades, not to mention a deleterious effect on our own self image that still plagues us to some extent today.
(LBJ did great things with his Great Society, but was pulled down by what he himself called the Vietnam “tar baby”.)
Some feared Goldwater would have dropped the atomic bomb (or used “low yield” nuclear weapons) to end the war, based on things he said. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? He might have sent an ultimatum to North Vietnam of some kind. While not a fan of Richard Nixon I have always felt that his move to blockade Haiphong Harbor was a good one, but a little late. And I never understood fully the controversy over his sending troops into Cambodia to prevent the forces of North Vietnam from having a sanctuary or route to supply munitions and men against us in the South. Wars should be avoided, but when they are fought military strategy is necessary and should take precedence over political strategy (although I realize politics cannot be ignored entirely — FDR and Ike found they had to play some politics with our allies in World War II).
But now today the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president does scare me, not just concerns, but scares.
Goldwater was a statesmen. He did service in the military and had a long career in the legislative branch of government. He had morals, Trump does not. Goldwater told it like he saw it. Trump just says anything and takes any side of an issue that suits his fancy for the day and then claims he was just joking or never said it at all. While Goldwater criticized what he called the “me tooers” in government, I don’t recall he resorted to vile name calling. He was not sexist. One might say he was a bit racist in that he opposed civil rights legislation, but his counter was that he was just supporting conservative ideals of liberty from an overreaching federal government.
(Conservatives of today might not like Goldwater because he eventually came out as somewhat liberal on some social issues, and I think that is because he maybe was more libertarian than conventional American conservative.)
Hillary Clinton, today’s model of a super progressive (some would say liberal), we all know, as a young lady was a “Goldwater Girl”.
Some said Goldwater was a mad man. I have never seen any evidence of that.
But I truly believe Trump is demented.
He goes way beyond the usual (and legitimate) criticism of opponents. He insults women, disabled people, an American POW and war hero (Sen. John McCain), and even the father and mother of a Muslim who fought for the U.S., as well as the poor dead soldier himself.
I hope that Trump does match Goldwater in one way, that is losing to his opponent in a landslide…
The Donald is plainly (to me) not fit to be president in a civilized society. I truly believe he is the Adolf Hitler of our time. And at best he is just too crude and ignorant. Some point to the fact he must know something because he is so rich. But I have never seen the connection between intelligence and money. Yes, you can be ignorant and quite wealthy. And we really don’t know how wealthy Trump is. We don’t know how much he has cheated on his taxes (and he has thus far failed to release his tax returns) or how much of his supposed net worth is bankruptcy-plagued smoke and mirrors, we don’t know.
I suppose there are legitimate measures of what constitutes a good president and a bad one but much of it is subjective. Of course it would be relatively easy to designate one as a popular or unpopular one. In my lifetime, most popular would likely be John F. Kennedy (I liked him; and he may be more popular in death than in life) and Ronald Reagan (I did not care for him). Most unpopular? Maybe poor Jimmy Carter (today dissed by both Democrats and Republicans as most ineffectual). In my books worst president in my lifetime so far: George W. Bush. But even he is at least civilized and stable, as far as I know.