NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 31st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, Cal Thomas recalls a time when politicians put the future of the nation before the future of their parties.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: One of the few advantages of changing addresses is that you sometimes discover long-forgotten items.
In a recent move, I found an old recording that contained an interview of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield by Paul Duke for NBC’s Today show.
The year was 1968. Richard Nixon had just been elected president. Duke asked Mansfield how much cooperation the president-elect should expect from Congress. Mansfield’s response to this and subsequent questions, compared to what we hear from the mouths of contemporary politicians, is a shocking reminder of how far we have fallen in the last half century.
After saying that congressional cooperation depends on the kinds of programs Nixon would propose, Mansfield said quote—“We will lean over backward to give him whatever support we possibly can and because he will be president of the United States, he will represent all of us and we will endeavor at all times to put the future of the nation ahead of the future of the party.”
Mansfield was no milquetoast when it came to his beliefs, but to my knowledge no one ever accused him of putting party before country. Many Democrats used to feel the same.
Later in the interview, Mansfield said he wished Nixon the best of everything in the years ahead because, quote—“he will be the president of all of us and what he does or doesn’t do will determine our destiny for a long time to come.”
Everyone knows what the Nixon presidency became. But contrast Mansfield’s comments with those being made by today’s politicians—from both parties. Since the 20-16 election, most Democrats have not had a single pleasant word for President Trump, much less any acknowledgement that he is president of us all. Sadly, for many Republicans and conservatives, it was the same when President Obama was in office, and Bill Clinton, too.
What changed? Plenty, including the failure to teach civics in too many schools and the absence of models of civility in public life. Young people aren’t taught to respect others, even those with whom they disagree. On top of that we have the 24-7 news cycle and social media, which allows anyone to say anything negative and spew falsehoods with little, if any, consequences.
Where have the likes of Mike Mansfield gone? Long time passing.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.