Shades of 1968 Color Election Year

January 08, 2008 03:46 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The 40th anniversary of one of the most turbulent years in contemporary American history gives writers pause for thought. The country has again found itself entangled in an unpopular foreign war as the president is about to leave office.

30-Second Summary

1968 was a year of upheaval. The United States was mired in the Vietnam War, people everywhere were questioning social and sexual conventions, and as in 2008, presidential campaigns rested on promises of change and renewal.

Just as the Vietnam War was the overriding issue of the 1968 election, so the Iraq War is expected to dominate the debates in 2008.

Of course, there are other parallels. Jim Johnson of the political blog State of Sunshine notes the similarities between the years: “The incumbent president is from the state of Texas. He had Congress authorize troops under less-than-truthful circumstances, but he is not running for re-election. The opposing party is promising to end the war and bring the troops home.”

However, Jonathan Darman of Newsweek sees more in the comparison than that, as the “old '60s fault lines” re-emerge in the current debate.

According to Darman, “The real way to move beyond the '60s is to have political leaders who are finally willing to do an honest accounting of what that fateful decade was truly about.”

To do this, he writes, the next president must confront the vital questions that began in the 1960s and continue to matter today.

“The story of 1968 demonstrates that the truly brave presidential candidate will be he, or she, who finally acknowledges the '60s have everything, not nothing, to do with us.”

Headline links: Comparing 1968 with 2008

Background: Tom Brokaw’s ‘1968’

Related Topics: Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinated; Nixon wins election

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Robert “Bobby” Kennedy
Nixon elected

Opinion & Analysis: Remembering 1968

Reference Material: A timeline of 1968 and topical books


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