I cast my first vote in 1960, when I was 22. That was before 18-year-olds were allowed to vote. I voted for John F. Kennedy, and I worked in his campaign. I was thrilled when he visited campaign headquarters, and I got to shake his hand. He was exciting and dynamic.
At the time, critics said he was no better than Richard Nixon.
They talked about his father, his money, his privilege, his Roman Catholicism; rumors swirled about his private life but were never reported by the media.
Public opinion was so divided about JFK, even among Democrats, that Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. felt compelled to write a short book called“Kennedy or Nixon: Does It Make Any Difference?” Of course, he argued that Kennedy was infinitely preferable to Nixon. Kennedy was elected by a razor-thin margin. Some people said that the corrupt Daley regime in Chicago put him over the top.
Democrats were even more divided in 1968 when Hubert H. Humphrey ran against Nixon. Liberals were angry at Humphrey because he had loyally served as LBJ’s vice-president and had not spoken against the war in Vietnam. I worked in the Humphrey-Muskie campaign and organized an event on October 31, 1968, in Manhattan. We didn’t have much money, so we rented a big, shabby labor hall on West 34 street in Manhattan. It was a ragtag affair with a lineup of wonderful speakers: John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Herman Badillo, and a parade of other liberal notables of the time. Vice-Presidential candidate Ed Muskie was supposed to drop in. Actress Shelley Winters moderated. In the middle of Galbraith’s endorsement of the Democratic ticket, two people in the front row jumped up, took off their raincoats, and ran stark naked onto the stage, where they presented Galbraith with the head of a pig. Shelley Winters threw a pitcher of water at them. The one security officer on duty began chasing them around the stage, and it was like a scene out of the Keystone Kops. Meanwhile, in the back of the room, about 15 protestors marched in, carrying a North Vietnamese flag, banging a drum and chanting “Ho Ho, Ho Chi Minh, Viet Cong are gonna win!”
By the time the protestors moved out, the rally collapsed, Muskie didn’t drop in.
Nixon was holding his own rally across the street at Madison Square Garden, and he had no protestors. Security was tight, and no one got in without credentials.
Our event was a debacle. I knew that night in my heart that Nixon would win.
Fast forward to today.
There are two major party candidates for the presidency, and one of them will be elected in November.
I am an idealist and I fight for what I believe in, but I am also a realist. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be elected president.
I will support and vote for Hillary Clinton. I am not telling anyone else how to vote. I am telling you why I am voting for Hillary.