The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Debates Do Matter: Exercise Your Rights

Democrat Senator John Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon debate campaign issues at a Chicago television studio. Photo courtesy of Associated Press. Public domain.

Fifty-six years ago the first presidential debates appeared on nationwide television and introduced a new medium that would forever change politics in America.

In many election years, the tongue-in-cheek notion is "it's the economy stupid - none of the other issues matter." This is not the case this year even though the economy is still sputtering. In 1960 it also wasn't just the economy. In 1960 the United States, not unlike today, was facing challenges at home and around the globe. The U.S. was in the midst of a cold war with the Soviet Union, the small island nation of Cuba which is a little over 90 miles from the Florida coast had come under the regime of Fidel Castro, and we were scared of communism in our backyard. Civil rights were at the forefront of the issues facing America. Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas had been desegregated with the help of the National Guard only three years before but civil rights and desegregation were causing the nation to seriously search its beliefs and constitution. It only takes a quick look at the YouTube video of the debate to realize how much our country has changed.

In some ways, the candidates are not unlike the ones in 1960 and this is NOT an endorsement of either. This is just an historical perspective. On one side you had the seasoned, but a little tricky, Richard Nixon. Very few presidents have ever had the foreign policy experience he had. On the other hand, you had a first-term senator, John F. Kennedy, who by all accounts could work a crowd but really played much more than he workied - at least in the way the establishment measured work.

But no matter what the history books say about how tan Kennedy looked, or how old and tired Nixon looked, today the candidates will be primped and primed. According to the History Channel, "Polls revealed that more than half of all voters had been influenced by the Great Debates, while 6 percent claimed that the debates alone had decided their choice." Just as in 1960, debates do matter. The United States is facing some of the toughest challenges it ever has as a country and, believe it or not, in the history of time, we are still a relatively young country. It is so important to vote, but it is equally important to be informed about your vote. At one time this election appeared to be a landslide. This no longer appears to be the case. Watch the debates. They are scheduled for Monday, September 26; Sunday, October 9 and Wednesday, October 19. The vice presidents will debate on Tuesday, October 4. All debates are at 9pm ET. To read more of the Kennedy-Nixon debates go to

Shout Out

A big shout out to Chuck Sanders and VFW Post 2350 of Elko, Nevada for these great photos.

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