Today I found a clipping from an old Cedric Adams "In This Corner" column in the Minneapolis Star, from Nov. 8, 1960. In it, Adams quoted at length an essay titled "A Voter Dreams of Paradise" by Mary E. Lockhart, who was my mother.
Adams wrote: "This essay is especially appropriate today. I hope some of the campaigners find time to read it."
And how much more appropriate 52 years later:
"I voted today for a man to lead our country of 180,000,000 human beings for the next four years. What a decision! As I drove to the polls I was haunted by a dream I had last night. I was in voters' paradise. No, not in heaven, which many may think of as the final abode of the righteous, but in a delightful habitation of the conscientious. It was election year in this paradise and, contrary to America, 1960, all the candidates were adhering to two principles: (1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and 2) Judge not that ye be not judged.
"Every candidate painstakingly constructed his platform. He studied the job requirements of the office he was seeking, he analyzed himself and not his opponent, he drew up his ethical platform point by point -- a simple, firm, upright explanation of those things he would attempt to do if elected. He spoke no ill of his opponent, realizing always that there is nothing creative in judging. Those seeking re-election boasted not of past accomplishments, for they recognized what the blessed meek have known since the time of the beatitudes -- that if good deeds are really good deeds they need not be bolstered by boasting.
"Just 40 years ago today the women of America first voted for a presidential candidate. Previous to that time, men made terrible fusses and insulted the intelligence of their very own wives in a struggle to prevent our right to vote.
"We women know that if, in our little sewing clubs of our neighborhoods, the two candidates for the club's presidency were to go among our neighbors flinging charges of, 'she's a liar,' 'she'll direct the club money for personal use,' 'she will discriminate,' 'she'll treat the women with mink stoles better than the rest,' our present congenial neighbourhood would collapse into a no-man's land littered with spite fences.
"I marvel that our United States recovers as well as it does from these four-yearly dips into muddy sloughs. I long for campaigns, both local and nationwide, conducted by men of integrity, with men of integrity and for men of integrity.
"Yes, I voted today. But I am still looking for one candidate who will conduct his entire campaign on what he is, on what he thinks should be done, and how he will do it with no criticism of opposing candidates. Politicians will report that the millenium would then be here. Is that bad? It made a mighty sweet dream."
Now I watch the presidential campaign from afar, having moved to Denmark long ago. I wish I could tell my mother that her dream did not yet come true. But now the methods the candidates use have become so absurd that a major change just might soon be demanded by all the people trying to decide how to vote.
Jonell Lockhart Kristensen lives in Kerteminde, Denmark.