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50 Years of Political Discourse

Updated on August 1, 2018
jackclee lm profile image

Before retiring, Jack worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.

In the 50 years since I became an adult, I have lived through the various administrations. There were nine administrations. I also participated in it by voting for our leaders. In a few cases, I have made mistakes by voting for the wrong guy. Here are my impressions over these years. As a student of history and someone with a long memory, I think I can weave a narrative through these years. It must be emphasized that no one administration or party can stand on its own. It is always the results or reaction to previous administrations that dictate the way forward.

- July 2018

My Voting Record...

1972 - Nixon Won (R)

1976 - Carter Won (D)

1980 - Reagan Won (R)

1984 - Reagan Won (R)

1988 - H. Bush Won (R)

1992 - Clinton Won (D)

1996 - Dole (R) - Lost to Clinton (D)

2000 - G. Bush Won (R)

2004 - G. Bush Won (R)

2008 - McCain (R) Lost to Obama (D)

2012 - Romney (R) Lost to Obama (D)

2016 - Did Not Vote - Trump Won (R)

Nixon 1968 - 1974 the Vietnam War Era, China, Watergate

The last 50 years and American politics are connected through various events. What I am proposing is that events are not discreet and that usually one event lead to another. The Viet Nam war changed our foreign policy for the next few decades. When it ended, we were left with a black eye. Not only was it the first military conflict of the US ending in a defeat, it was also one that involved deceit and trickery that challenged the premise of our righteousness. Our will to stop the spread of communism left us with a worst scenario. We became the agressors in world opinion.

Nixon was elected to end an unpopular war. One that dragged on too long and lost all sense of perspective. After 58 thousand dead Americans, we were no closer to winning. It was also one of those issues that divided American.

To be honest, I was one that believed the administration of Johnson. Coming as an immigrant from Taiwan, I saw the devestation of Communism as they took over the Chinese mainland and drove my parents and grandparents to become refugees. Stopping the spread of Communisim was high on my belief system. I was just becoming of draft age in 1969. I had a lottery number that was in the middle. If I had not enrolled to attend college, I would have been drafted and would have chosen to enlist. Luck would have it, I attended a public university and were given a deferment. By the time I graduated in 1974, the war had ended and I was spared the tragedy.

The opening of China by Nixon was monumental. It changed the way we see China and by extension communism. It opened the door to trade and commerce and access to millions of low cost workers. It was a boost to the world’s economy.

By 1973, we were at peace. Unfortunately, the watergate scandal took down the Nixon presidency. It overshadowed all the good he had done as president including the estalishment of the EPA. As a true patriot, he elected to resign rather than to face a drawn out political impeachment process. It was for the good of the nation that he chose to leave office. The rest is history.

I often wondered, what if he had chose another path? What if he chose to stay and fight impeachment? Where would our country be now?

Ford 1974-1976 Pardon of Nixon

Vice prsident Ford became the reluctant President. He took over after Nixon resigned and decided to pardon Nixon of any criminal liabilities. This one act of compassion on his part, in the interest to heal the nation, would doom his relection chances.

The country was ready to move in a new direction. Watergate left a bad taste in most people‘s mouth. Many Republicans was disgusted at the events and the dirty politics. Some like me decided to give a new face a chance in the name of Carter. He was an engineer by training and a peanut farmer from Georgia. He was outside the DC political structure and was going to clean up Washington DC.

You can make the case that Watergate set the scene for electing Carter or any Democrats that was running at the right place and the right time.

Carter 1977-1980 Iran Hostages, OPEC Oil Embargo

Carter turned out to be a disaster. He might be a good person, a Christian, a loving husband and a father, but as an executive, he was terrible. He micromanaged the affairs of government. His willingness to give up on our destiny to be the great nation we are. I remember the OPEC oil crisis and we had alternate days to get gas. The price of oil and gas and heating oil shot up. Carter gave a speech wearing a sweater telling us to lower the thermostat. Inflation was in the double digit. The worst was the Iran hostage crisis where for 444 days, our diplomats was held hostage. His attempt for a military rescue ended in disaster. The hilocopters were stuck in the dessert sand.

He was the worst President in our modern history. The scene was set for the return of the GOP. It was Reagan who had ran and failed in 1976 against a sitting president of Ford that is now in position to win back the White House.

Reagan 1981-1988 Iran Contra, Soviet Empire Fall

Reagan had a conservative and America first policy. He believed in peace through strength. He believed in a limited federal government and tax cuts to stimulate the economy. He believes a rising tide will lift all boats. He was a great communicator. This was a period of only three news channels, CBS, NBC and ABC. Yet, he was able to go directly to the American people and bypass the biased media and work with a Democratic controlled Congress.

His economic policy along with a strong foreign policy was able to turn things around. He set the scene for the fall of the Soviet Union which he called the “evil empire”. He called for the tearing down of the iron curtain and the reunification of East and West Germany. He wanted a defensive missile system called “star wars”. These are monumental changes. His policies was a success and he was reelected for a second term with the greatest majority of 49 out of 50 States. That is an impressive showing. He won over many detractors who were the blue dog Democrats. His shining city on the hill was bright when he left office. It also assured the election of George HW Bush, his vice President, to be the President.

HW Bush 1989-1992 Gulf War

At first, things were going great. The Berlin wall came down. The cold war was over. Then, Saddam Husain invaded Saudia Arabia. The first Gulf war ensued. Along with a coalition of Western countries, we won a sptacular victory. The problem was we did not remove him from power. He survived and lived to fight another day. Bush’s popularity was at 90% and his compassionate conservative policies was embraced. Unfortunately, it did not last. The over spending by Congress continued and created a recession which set the scene for another turnover. Afterall, as an estute political operative said, “it’s the economy stupid.“.

Bush broke a cardinal rule and raised taxes. Having promised to not raise taxes in the campaign with “read my lips, no new taxes” he did and it was used against him in the 2nd term election. This time, a 3rd party candidate by the name of Ross Perot upset the political scene and divided the GOP and set the scene for the election of Bill Clinton who won with less than a majority of votes.

Clinton 1993-2000 Impeachment

Bill Clinton was a slick politician who could charm anyone. He gave speeches that sounded so sincere that even I was fooled. He convinced me to vote for him the first time around. I was disappointed at the way Bush had taken the country away from Reagan’s conservative policies. Clinton talked a good game and said “the era of big government is over...” He was not an ideologue but a skilled politician. He triangulated when he had to to stay in power. His most destructive move was to choose to fight impeachment after the Monica-gate. For the good of the country, he should have resigned. The impeachment was a huge distraction and in my opinion allowed America to take their focus away from the rising tide of Islamic terrorism. It was selfish of him to lie and do whatever was necessary to hold on to power. Not only that, after he survived impeachment, he paved the way for his wife Hillary to be elected Senator from NY.

GW Bush 2001-2008 9/11 and Iraq War

The debacle of the 2000 election where we were examining hanging chads should of never come to pass. The error of Bill Cinton killed the chances of Al Gore to become president. What a different path our country would have gone. Instead, Bush became President by the narrowest margin. His administration was deemed illegitimate by the democrats. Until that fateful day of 9/11 when the whole world stopped. We learned how 19 terroists were able to pull off the largest attack on the homeland and killed almost 3000 innocent civilians.

Amerca went on a war footing ever since. The Patriot Act and the Afghanistan and Iraq war ensued. The most devestating error was the fact no WMD was found in the aftermath. It gave an opening to some Democrats and the media to create the false narrative that “Bush Lied and People Died”. The truth is everyone thought Saddam had WMD and were capable of using it or passing it off to terrorist organizations. They also claimed falsely that Bush went to war to secure the oil. We did not receive one drop of oil. In fact, we sent billions of our treasure and the blood of our soldiers to remove Saddam from power. We tried to give the people of Iraq a chance at democracy. It failed. That was the legacy of GW Bush.

The recession of 2008 was the nail that finished the GOP.

The war dragged on longer than what the American people can stomach. By 2008, they were ready to move in a new direction. A new face came on the scene in the name of Barack Hussein Obama, a junior senator from Illinois with a thin resume.

Obama 2009 - 2016 Recession, ACA

Hope and Change was his slogan. President Obama was a great orator. He can deliver great speeches and read from teleprompter. He was going to be the uniter. He even quoted from Reagan and Lincoln... He was the great deceiver. His progressive agenda became clear in his first term. He used his political capital, not to help recover from a deep recession, but to create a national healthcare system in the name of the ACA, affordable care act. As it turned out, this 2000 page monstrosity of a bill was neither affordable or good care. It was not a healthcare bill but a health insurance overhaul. It changed the way Americans buy healthcare insurance.

The bill was implement in stages and reach maximum impact in 10 years. It was designed to fail. It is unsustainable to add millions to the healthcare insurance roll with little compensation to help pay for it. It became another entitlement that we cannot afford. It doubled our national debt to $20 trillion.

Over the 8 years, the democrats started with a majority in the House and Senate and rhe White House. Over the next few election clycles, the Democrats lost the House, then the Senate and many state houses and governorships. It can be said Obama‘s progressive policies was the single reason that lead to the demise of the party.

It set the stage for the next big revolution in America politics. The Trump phenomenon.

Trump 2017- Present

In 2016, the nation was ready for a huge change. They were presented with two very flawed candidates. A Hillary Clinton mired in scandals, and a bombastic outsider in the name of Trump. He was the unconventional candidate that defeated 16 other GOP hopefuls. He defied all odds and won the nomination of the party and later shocked all by beating Hillary Clinton in the general election. The American people were fed up with political insiders of both party. They wanted a businessman who is successful and with new ideas and and American First agenda.

You might say, he was exactly at the right place and the right time. He was estute enough to sense what the people wanted. Despite of pundits and experts and polls, he understood the American people better than anyone. He said what the people wanted and promised to deliver them.

So far, in just under 2 years, he has delivered on most of what he promised.


50 years is a long time. More than a lifetime. I tried to make the case that everything that happened in politics is connected. One administration lead to the next. It is like a chain link. The actions of one dictated the next and the process continued year after year. It is said, in a democracy, we get the goverment we deserve. Based on the event of the last 50 years, It is so true.

© 2018 Jack Lee


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