Points of view
Civil War II, Civil War III
By Richard L. Gilbert
At the end of the most painful episode in America’s history — the Civil War — President Lincoln told the nation to look to the better angels of our time and let the healing process begin.
It lasted 100 years until the hawkish demagoguery of Barry Goldwater asserted itself in the presidential election of 1964. The conservative Senator from Arizona threatened the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons — and most commonsensible people were horrified, particularly opponents in the nation’s capital. Goldwater considered the eastern third of the nation as “weaklings” that should be cut off from the rest of the country.
And that’s exactly what he did in a shocking TV commercial.
There, on screen, was a full size, mounted map of the United States. A large toothed saw comes into view, cuts off one third, and sends it out to space.
Lyndon Johnson was outraged and ran, perhaps, the most memorable television response ever — the daisy ad. Tony Schwartz, a sound effects expert, and Doyle Dane Bernbach, the multi-talented ad agency, showed a young child stripping the petals in an ominous countdown. At zero, the picture implodes and the screen disappears, as did the candidacy of Goldwater who lost in a landslide.
Some 50 years later, another great challenge to our union from an elite capitalist and corporate leader, Republican aspirant, Mitt Romney. At a time of economic distress and slow recovery, Mr. Romney dismisses 47 percent of the electorate as being “victims,” “takers,” “tax evaders” and “entitlement abusers” who would never vote for him. Does it then follow he could never effectively be their president?
Critics including many Republicans were bewildered and quick to point out that within the shunned 47 percent were students, members of the armed forces plus the ill, elderly and all those falling under the minimum for paying income taxes but still subject to payroll deductions. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and poverty programs — all part of the genius of a “great American society” also came into play.