I was born in 1958, and grew up in Berkeley, California, in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a tumultuous time, and my parents were deeply involved in the affairs of the day. But we did not even own a television until the spring of 1968, as the Democratic convention approached. The country then was in fear. We were in the midst of the war in Vietnam, and the Civil Rights Movement was unfinished business. In April of that year, Martin Luther King, Jr, was murdered by a white supremacist.
Richard Nixon won that election – having roused the “silent majority” of voters who feared the social changes under way, and thought he might stem the tide and preserve “law and order.” He, ironically, became the first president forced to resign for his own criminal activities.
This election we are sensing a seismic political shift. Our students, as usual, have been ahead of the rest of us. USA Today reported that Obama won national student polls by 18 points, 57% for Obama to 39% for McCain.
In 1968, Walter Cronkite brought the Democratic convention into our living room in black and white. This year in my home, the TV is tuned to CNN and MSNBC, and on my laptop, I check political blogs for the very latest tidbits, polling results and analysis.
The election results in 1968 and 1972 reflected an electorate that wanted to stave off change. The result this year is not in as I write this, but if the poll of our students is any indication, we may have an electorate ready to embrace change, and I have never seen people – especially the youth -- so excited and motivated about an election.
How does this election compare to others you have experienced? How have your students been reacting to the process? What do you think the election results tell us about the direction of the country?