In 1968 I still didn’t have the right to vote as the 26th Amendment had not yet been added to our Constitution, so it didn’t matter all that much that I couldn’t decide which of the major party candidates I supported.
I still considered myself a Republican in those days, and if I could have voted I would have probably registered as a Republican, but the GOP’s candidate was Richard Nixon, and while this was years before he had disgraced himself via Watergate and his other high crimes and misdemeanors while serving in the nation’s highest office, I had already decided he was pretty icky. At this late date, I’m not exactly sure why.
I was still a fan of Barry Goldwater, and I can clearly remember my disgust when I heard Goldwater praising Nixon for something or other in the year or two before the 1968 election and saying that Nixon would probably be the strongest candidate. I suspect that I had soured on Nixon when he turned out to be such a sore loser in the 1962 California gubernatorial election (“You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”), plus I had probably learned a bit more about Nixon’s background—his Checkers speech, his idiotic anti-Communist hysteria, etc.
In any case, Nixon was not the one for me.
Alas, on the Democratic side there was Hubert Humphrey, whom I saw as just a tool of the Democratic machine, a supporter of the Vietnam war, the Vice-President of the hated LBJ. Plus he had been anointed at that convention in Chicago where all those protesters had been bashed by the thug Mayor Daly.
So there really wasn’t much to choose from. A lesser of two evils? Which was the lesser?
But as I couldn’t vote anyway, it hardly seemed to matter.
I just wish I had been able to listen to the episode of Fresh Air where Samuel Freedman talks about Hubert Humphrey’s history of fighting for civil rights. I don’t think I ever knew about Humphrey’s early career before. I think I’ll check out Freedman’s book, Into the Bright Sunshine.
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