Election Day and Making Your Voice Heard

With one Election Day freshly behind us, and another larger one looming next year, we look to the history of candidates past. Those that won, those that lost. The fight for the right to choose who won or lost. Roads not taken and alternative paths. All of these themes are touched on in this week’s list of books available as always from the Lititz Public Library or by request through the Library System of Lancaster County.

The candidate : what it takes to win, and hold, the White House / Samuel L. Popkin
There are two winners in every presidential election campaign: The inevitable winner when it begins and the inevitable victor after it ends. In The Candidate, Samuel Popkin explains the difference between them. Popkin, drawing on a lifetime of presidential campaign experience and academic research, analyzes what it takes to win the next campaign. The road to the White House is littered with geniuses of campaigns past. He explains how challengers get to the White House, incumbents stay there for a second term and successors hold power for their party. A vision for the future and the audacity to run are only the first steps; presidential hopefuls can survive the most grueling show on earth only if they understand the critical factors that Popkin reveals in The Candidate.

The woman’s hour : the great fight to win the vote / Elaine Weiiss
An account of the 1920 ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted voting rights to women traces the culmination of seven decades of legal battles and cites the pivotal contributions of famous suffragists and political leaders. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman’s Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.

Founding Mothers : The Women Who Raised Our NationFounding mothers : the women who raised our nation / Cokie Roberts
Long before women won the right to vote, they played a profound role in the development of our nation. Drawing upon personal correspondence, private journals, and even favored recipes, Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed, and Martha Washington — proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might never have survived.

Playing with fire : the 1968 election and the transformation of American politics / Lawrence O’Donnell
Lawrence O’Donnell presents an account of the 1968 presidential election to evaluate its lasting influence on American politics and the Democratic party, exploring the pivotal roles of RFK and McCarthy, two high-profile assassinations and the Chicago riots. This book has much to shed light on for the reader, whether a well-read student of the era or a newcomer to the story.

Then Everything Changed : Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, ReaganThen everything changed : stunning alternate histories of American politics : JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan / Jeff Greenfield
History turns on a dime. A missed meeting, a different choice of words, and the outcome changes dramatically. In three dramatic narratives Greenfield shows just how extraordinary those changes would have been.

These things are true: In December 1960, a suicide bomber paused fatefully when he saw the young president-elect’s wife and daughter come to the door to wave goodbye…In June 1968, RFK declared victory in California, and then instead of talking to people in another ballroom, as intended, was hustled off through the kitchen…In October 1976, President Gerald Ford made a critical gaffe in a debate against Jimmy Carter, turning the tide in an election that had been rapidly narrowing.

But what if it had gone the other way? These alternate paths were not that far from happening. Understanding how mightily things could have been different insure that you will never think about recent American history in the same way again.

1960 : LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon : the epic campaign that forged three presidencies / David Pietrusza
Pietrusza chronicles the pivotal election of 1960, in which issues of civil rights and religion converged. The volatile primary clash between Senate Majority leader LBJ and the young JFK culminated in an improbable fusion ticket. The historic, legendary Kennedy-Nixon debates followed in its wake. The first presidential televised debates, they forever altered American politics when an exhausted Nixon was unkempt and tentative in their first showdown. With 80 million viewers passing judgment, Nixon”s poll numbers dropped as the charismatic Kennedy”s star rose. Nixon learned his lesson–resting before subsequent debates, reluctantly wearing makeup, and challenging JFK with a more aggressive stance–but the damage was done.

In the spirit of voting, feel free to let me know what topics you’d like to see explored or covered in future iterations of this column. Make your voice heard, drop me a line at rmccrory@lititzlibrary.org or call at 717-626-2255.

Ryan McCrory
November 6, 2019