Somehow, every time I think about this year’s presidential elections I cannot help invoking the names of Goldwater and McGovern.
Each of those individuals had a dramatic impact on the future of the Republican and Democratic parties. When their campaigns imploded, it took both political parties many years to recover.
Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) was the darling of the conservative wing of the party. He was charismatic and did not hold back on any issues, at any time.
During those years, the right wing of the Republican Party had taken control of the machinery and steered the nomination to Goldwater.
His Democratic opponent, Lyndon Johnson, went into the campaign with a sterling record on civil rights, needs of the poor and a variety of issues that made him the odds on favorite.
When the 1964 election ended, Goldwater suffered a disastrous defeat and the Democrats won control of both houses of Congress.
Beyond Washington, Goldwater caused the party to lose hundreds, if not thousands, of seats in state legislatures and local elections.
In New York State, the Assembly Speaker Joseph F.Carlino, who had a very Republican district, was swept out of his job by 17,000 votes.
After the 1964 debacle, it took the Republican Party almost 10 years to regain their footing and gain control of the White House.
If ever a year smelled like 1964, this one does.
Donald Trump, has to date captured the hearts and minds of the blue-collar workers and anyone else who has a grievance with the government and hates all politicians.
His only real opposition is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who is beloved by many of the same people, and universally hated in Washington.
You don’t have to be a professor of political science, to know that either one could repeat the Goldwater disaster by suffering a massive defeat, and setting the party back for another ten or more years.
Some of my close Republican friends believe that a Cruz or Trump candidacy could mean the death of the national party itself.
While many Democrats are having a good time watching the Republican Party trauma, this year’s election could inflict massive pain on the Democrats and take away their last seat of power, the White House.
Hillary Clinton may not be the heart-stopping choice of all Democrats, but anyone who thinks Bernie Sanders can beat Trump or even Cruz, better read the history of George McGovern’s 1972 campaign for president.
McGovern was a very liberal senator with a strong populist record.
The extreme left wing of the Democratic Party revered him and at that time was in control of the party machinery.
McGovern got the nomination and overwhelmingly lost the election by a margin of 60 to 37 per cent.
McGovern campaigned on the issues of uplifting all of the working class and ending the war in Viet Nam.
His successful opponent was President Richard Nixon, who successfully claimed that he would protect the security of the country and make it strong again.
If you listen to Trump or Cruz, they sound very much like Barry Goldwater. If you listen to Bernie Sanders, you can hear the footsteps of McGovern.
I can vouch for McGovern’s impact on the bottom of the Democratic ticket , as I ran for re-election that year and got 12,000 more votes than Mc Govern.
There is no happy ending for either party if history repeats itself.
A lot of people in this region tell me they like Bernie Sanders, but if he is the candidate, Sanders is incapable of winning the race for the White House.
He may win a few states, but Trump will capture enough Republicans and Reagan Democrats to win the big prize.
I know a few people who are long standing members of the “November Doesn’t Count Club.”
Therefore, if they want Trump to win, they should stick with Sanders.