Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat
Individual Freedom For Everyone

Friday, February 1, 2013

Helmer Reemberg: Presidential Fever Sweeps The Nation: 4/10/1960

This piece was originally posted at The Daily Journal

The 1960 West Virginia Democratic primary was a battle of dirty tricks. With the Humphrey campaign trying to make JFK’s Irish-Catholic faith and issue in an overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon Protestant state like West Virginia. Which is the South Carolina of the Mid-Atlantic. The Kennedy campaign with Jack’s father Joe literally buying votes and West Virginia political leaders. Both campaigns running ads against the other that were simply false. When the West Virginia primary should have literally been a battle place of ideas. With HHH offering his progressive big government vision. And JFK offering his liberal limited government vision for the country. That would use government to empower people and not just take care of them.

This is one of the most interesting presidential campaigns ever I believe. Jack Kennedy vs Dick Nixon in 1960 was also a great campaign. But the campaign between Senator Jack Kennedy and Senator Hubert Humphrey (or Hubie to be less formal) I believe at least in some ways was even better. Because it represented a battle of Democratic factions. The New Deal/soon to be Great Society progressive coalition faction of the Democratic Party. That had all sorts of big government social programs for people. Against an emerging liberal New Democratic coalition of JFK that wanted to use government to empower people in need to be able to take care of themselves.

What the Kennedy campaign tried to do here was to make it look like their candidate was the young candidate who represented the younger generation and that Senator Humphrey was old school and represented older people and the ways of the past. Even though they were both World War II Generation and were only six years apart in age. Senator Humphrey ran on his experience even though Senator Kennedy had actually served in Congress longer at this point than Humphrey. With his six years in the House before being elected to the Senate in 1952. This campaign was really a campaign about ideas and the role of government in America instead. Humphrey wanted a bigger Federal Government to take care of more people. Kennedy wanted to use government to empower people in need to be able to take care of themselves instead.


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