The biggest election in Wayne that I remember was Eisenhower/Nixon’s over Stevenson (whom my mother supported). In fact, I still have the nifty “I Like Ike” badges: one that flicks from faces to the slogan as you tilt it, the other the size of a CD, with pics of Eisenhower and Nixon. I remember the Republican campaign headquarters dominating downtown Wayne, which is where I got the buttons. I was in fifth or sixth grade.
In SWEET DREAMS I described what seemed to me the Wayne mindset at the time, as represented by my father: “He admired Eisenhower, sharing Republican nostalgia for MacArthur, but agreeing with Truman's firing of MacArthur over use of atomic weapons in Korea. He disliked Stevenson not only as a Democrat, but also as an intellectual, and possibly a pinko. He liked Nixon. I don't recall his watching the McCarthy hearings on TV, but I did myself, and I was as contemptuous of the defendants citing the fifth amendment as I was of prizefighters who constantly resorted to clinches, rather than really fighting. Our home library certainly included blatant Cold War titles that Dad studied and swore by, such as None Dare Call It Treason and What You Must Know About Communism. These prejudices were, in general, the majority views in Wayne.”
This is 2012. I am seventy-one. I live in Boston, where the perspective is pro-Obama, and where our economic and social problems are thought to be Republican legacies, especially given the rising Tea Party tide.
But this election, my mind is also in Wayne, and as I follow Radnor Patch, with the conservative mindset that still seems its dominant voice (Romney chooses the platform of the VF Military Academy! Why not Villanova, Penn, Haverford, Bryn Mawr? Swarthmore?). On the list serve for my Radnor class of ’59, I have one classmate and close friend, who insistently portrays Obama as a fraud and conspirator against “true” capitalistic values. I haven’t argued back because the stand seems more emotional than reasoned.
I only hope that we are all civic minded enough to live with majority choices. I don’t, personally, want to suffer through another era of trickle-down economic theory, social Darwinism, contempt for science, and big stick foreign policy. But if that is the legitimate majority vote, I will accept it and move on. I hope for an Obama victory, and likewise if that is the outcome, I hope my friend and I can return to the shared, human ground of our lives.