1960 between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy, was one of the last presidential elections in America that was about ideas, vision, experience, and qualifications. Instead of having two unlikable candidates who know they’re unlikable and unpopular and use that to defeat their opponents. Going back to really 1996 and perhaps 1992, American presidential elections have been about destroying the other side instead of winning the election. And telling American voters, “we know you don’t like us, but you should hate our opponents more and this is why.” Where winning presidential elections has become about and has been about for a generation now negative adverting and campaigning. The campaign that runs the best negative ads and makes the best negative arguments agains their opponent, tends to win.
Instead of winning elections because your opponent is more qualified, has better experience, better ideas, better vision, more forward looking, more likable as an individual. In 1960 America had two great choices. Two very bright well-educated presidential candidates, who both wanted to be President and both knew why. Both had something positive to offer Americans. And of course there was negative advertising and campaigning between Dick Nixon and Jack Kennedy. but that wasn’t what their campaigns was about.
Vice President Nixon offered American four more years of what was already working from the Eisenhower Administration. Senator Kennedy was offering Americans a new generation of leadership and new way of thinking. That the U.S. Government needed to new leadership to deal with the challenges of the 1960s. Americans had a real choice of either sticking with what was working ( according to the Eisenhower Administration ) or move in a different direction and deal with issues like civil rights for all Americans, health care for senior citizens, and other issues.
1960 to me is what presidential elections should be about, at least within the two-party system. Putting the two best candidates that America has to offer, or at least the best Democrat and Republican against each other. With both candidates offering why they should be President, instead of arguing why their opponent shouldn’t be President. And because America is so divided not just politically, but culturally, and now even ethnically and racially, having a positive presidential election doesn’t seem possible anymore. At least not with the two-party system.