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Recall When Divorce Was Taboo In American Elections?

December 5, 2017

How far this nation has fallen seems to be a topic that touches many a conversation in this land.  Over a late night dinner at a small diner in Madison I made mention to James that just in my lifetime the level of what passes for acceptability in politics has taken a very wide swing.

It was only in 1964 that a very public marriage, which followed the couples previous divorces, caused a major stink.  Not just a cooked onion smell in the air, but a ‘who let the skunk in the house’ type of stench.

That was the time Happy Rockefeller made headlines.  She was the very visible socialite who married New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1963.  Both had been divorced, and very soon after each of the previous marriages had ended, they wed.  What followed is part of the Richard Nixon story–which is why this slice of American politics came to mind as I recounted the story to James.

The explosion of  comments and opinions about the marriage rocked the Republican Party.  That was a time when men wore ties and suit jackets and women wanted a door to be opened for them.  The marriage resulted in Rockefeller not being able to obtain the 1964 Republican presidential nomination.  That divorce/marriage scandal played into the 1968 race for the GOP nomination too, which Nixon won.  Simply put there were no further presidential races for Rockefeller.

Why that is simple to grasp is due to  considering where society was at the time.  That was an era when marital infidelity and divorce were toxic for presidential candidates.  Rockefeller was 18 years older than his new bride and each of the newlyweds had secured out-of-state divorces.

To put a finer point on this matter take the words of former Senator Prescott Bush, a Connecticut Republican and a longtime Rockefeller supporter into account when pondering this matter.

He said, “Have we come to the point where a governor can desert his wife and children, and persuade a young woman to abandon her four children and husband? Have we come to the point where one of the two great parties will confer its greatest honor on such a one? I venture to hope not.”

That was about a divorce.

Today the Republican Party is dealing with pedophilia.

A possible election of someone who has had a most credible allegation made about their past behavior involving  a 14-year-old girl .  Roy Moore was told not to visit a mall after his lurking and luring of girls was called to the attention of the business.  Other women have come forward and demonstrated a willingness to confront a sexual predator.    They gave their names and stories in public and not in some veiled fashion which I have found so troubling in some other cases.

Yet the the Republican Party who stated in various ways several weeks ago that they believed the women are now turning around and funding and endorsing Moore’s candidacy.

One can only imagine what Prescott would say about his party now linking arms with a pedophile.  I suspect men of honor, (and I have always placed Prescott in that category) ) would simply leave the party if he were still alive.

What passes today for our politics has partisans standing alongside a pedophile simply because he carries a political banner.  That makes everything the Founding Fathers did in Philadelphia almost stand on its head.   If you were to ask the average Alabama supporter of Moore to talk in a couple paragraphs about what the Framers had to say about the role of virtue in government—well…..we would be waiting until the cows came home.  That is why we have this mess today.

When we no longer teach civics, or history in the way it requires, and the central tenets for a strong, healthy, and functional republic are neglected then the election of Moore is the result.

The nation gets a pedophile severing as a United States Senator.

And to think in my youth the shocker was divorce!

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