Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Obama-Romney is the new Kennedy-Nixon

The American political headlights are fixed on the Presidential debates. October 3rd, 16th and 22nd mark the candidates’ final opportunities to influence the mercurial American electorate. Polls give neither candidate significant advantage. It makes sense to look to history as a barometer of the outcome. Only one election comes close to Obama-Romney in terms of precursors, divisions, and implications: 1960’s Kennedy-Nixon election.

Even with a 42-year time difference, the analogies between the elections are uncanny. Both come on the heels of economic downturns featuring long-fought wars as backdrops. The key similarity, though, is the clash of cultures that the candidates from both elections depict. Romney and Nixon are two older liberal-leaning Republicans with shakily wavering stances. Both considered awkward and disingenuous unless calculated, they draw support from a fervent, ideologically-rigid base. On the other hand, the younger Kennedy and Obama appeal to the progressive-minded and minorities, are gifted orators, air toward populism, and are the ‘rock stars’ of their respective campaigns.

Implication-wise, both elections are at historic social junctures in America. 1960 came at the precipice of counterculture becoming mainstream, while 2012 underscores a divisive tension between the rich and poor. 2012’s debates will undoubtedly be the fulcrum of the election. Americans will see Romney, like Nixon, in the wild, and Barack Obama, like Kennedy, taking on a fierce ideological adversary. If history holds true, Obama’s calm, Kennedy-like demeanor should outshine Romney’s shifty, deliberate Nixon-esque approach. Though the times, they continue a’changin’, 2012’s significance emulates that of 1960 effortlessly.


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