On this one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency, I find myself thinking about what America might be like today if an election had gone differently.
The election I’m thinking about is the presidential one between Richard Nixon and former Minnesota Senator and Vice-President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey. I had the honor of meeting Hubert Humphrey in 1970, when I was two years old. He was campaigning at a ballpark close to my home for a Minnesota Senate seat. I’m fortunate to be able to count meeting him among my earliest memories. I was impressed by the warmth that radiated from him as he held me. He struck me as someone special and my young mind placed him in the ‘Santa Claus realm’ of people.
Today, I have framed photos of Hubert Humphrey in my office that I look at each morning. I keep the photos that my mom gave me of my special meeting with him prominently displayed because they serve as a reminder of what I—and every American—should strive to be: like Hubert Humphrey. During my childhood, my initial assessment of Humphrey was verified by stories I saw in the news and through anecdotes. My grandpa’s family knew the Humphrey family when they ran a drugstore in Huron, South Dakota. They were supposedly decent, hardworking people.
What if the decent, hardworking man who settled in Minnesota and radiated genuine warmth had won the election instead of Richard Nixon? Would his dedication to Civil Rights have eliminated racism in this country? Would his ability to initiate programs like the Peace Corps have resulted in achieving something close to healing the entire world during his time in office? Would he have successfully eliminated the need for nuclear threats as he demonstrated to other nations how to use words to negotiate instead of weapons? Would he have become such a desirable role model who concerned himself with the rights of every person that the American population would come to expect nothing less from future leaders? Would integrity and a sincere desire to improve the lives of every human being become a requirement to become president? If Hubert Humphrey had been president, would people emulating his natural acts of selflessness eventually result in human decency becoming part of each American’s DNA? Would concerning oneself with the well–being of one’s suffering neighbor become so commonplace that self-preservation would become a completely foreign concept to people in this country? Would his acts of kindness toward the opposition and his ability to reach across the aisle have inspired all Americans to be more compassionate toward each other, and to raise compassionate children and grandchildren … who would one day become voters?
If Hubert Humphrey had become president in 1968, how would America have voted in 2016?
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© 2018 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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