The picture you see here takes me back. It was taken in 1961. It shows two presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy and the man he succeeded, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Kennedy won the 1960 election by a razor-thin margin over Richard Nixon, who served as vice president in the Eisenhower administration.
What precisely are these men discussing as they stroll through the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.? Beats me.
But the picture came with some text that someone posted on Facebook. It reads in part:
This is not a political post. I am posting as a service to Facebook users too young to recall such times. This is a picture of President Kennedy, a Democrat, and former President Eisenhower, a Republican … It hasn’t always been, “I won and you lost.” We used to understand that we are all better together than we are when grouped in opposing camps. Competition is fine, as long as you understand who you are competing against. It’s not productive to burn something down, just so you can stand on the smoldering ashes.
This photo seems rather quaint, but it’s also instructive to those who have no memory of how we used to function at the highest level of our government. Men succeeded each other at the pinnacle of power and the individual who ceded that power to his successor made himself available to provide counsel and advice.
We haven’t seen this occur in recent times. The most recent presidential election, tragically, has resulted in perpetuating hatred among Americans of differing points of view.
The cause of that ill will is clear to me: It comes from the defeated candidate for president in 2020 refusing to concede that he lost. His refusal has fed the anger that still burns among those who follow him down some path to oblivion.
I am no Pollyanna. I know there is a way to restore the collegiality that formerly existed between those of differing political parties. It can start simply with the defeated former president doing what is right. He could stand before a crowd of journalists and call put an end to The Big Lie, the one he repeats by telling us about phony allegations of “widespread voter fraud.”
It won’t happen. I just thought it helpful to show you how it used to be … and how it could be once again.