On this day in history, 56 years ago, John F. Kennedy was nominated for the presidency by the Democratic Party Convention, held in Los Angeles. He defeated his closest rival, Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas. The next day, Johnson was named Kennedy’s running mate by a unanimous vote of the convention.
Four months later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in United States history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by Vice President Richard Nixon. On January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was inaugurated the 35th president of the United States.
A fourth-generation Irish American, Kennedy was also the nation’s first Catholic president. During his famous inaugural address, Kennedy, the youngest candidate ever elected, declared that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and appealed to Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Two things jump out from 56 years ago. First, the Kennedy years marked a great time of optimism and unity in our country. Second, there was an emphasis on personal responsibility.
I often wonder how Kennedy would respond to the critical issues of the day.
How would he fight terrorism?
How would he respond to “Black Lives Matter”?
Would he stick to his position of lowering taxes?
Would he be pro-life or pro-choice?
Would he be able to pull us together?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. Nobody does. I have my opinions, but that’s all they are. But what is beyond doubt is that the spirit of unity and call to responsible living is needed today – even more than this day in 1960.