Boomer Opinion: Profiles in Courage, then and now

You can get plenty of Boomer Opinion here at BoomerCafé that sees only negatives in Donald Trump. But in this piece from his home in Riverside, California, retired businessman Donald Haddix sees it the other way. And predicts that in November, most voting Americans will too.

If an assassin’s bullet hadn’t ended the presidency of John F. Kennedy, he certainly would have been re-elected in ’64. He was the consummate politician. Composed. Brainy. Witty. Charming. Appealing. Electable. Being husband of Jackie didn’t hurt either.

President John F Kennedy often sat in a rocking chair due to back pain from injuries incurred during World War 2 action in the Pacific.

It didn’t start out that way. At times, he was a frail as FDR. Still suffering from wounds from WWII, back surgery in the early 50s, around the time he went from the House to the Senate, gave him the rest he needed. Maybe it was ordained. Just what the doctor ordered. As he healed, a great politician emerged.

Kennedy’s book, “Profiles in Courage,” offers tremendous insight into his ideology. He didn’t believe in a quid pro quo government by creating entitlements. On the contrary, he argued that the best leaders are those who go against the grain or the popular consensus, and made courageous decisions under tremendous political pressure.

When Kennedy faced Nixon for the presidency in 1960, he was up against an incumbent two term vice president. It was an exhausting campaign. It would take every ounce of energy for Kennedy, still ailing, to beat a formidable opponent like Nixon. He succeeded, by a whisker, but he won. An archetypal politician for the ages had emerged.

The mid-19th Century philosopher Henry David Thoreau reluctantly acknowledged that we do need government. He just wanted it to be as negligible as possible. Transparent to the point of being invisible. “I heartily accept the motto,” he wrote, “that government is best which governs least.” Thoreau didn’t have much need for politicians either. An earlier senator from Massachusetts, Daniel Webster, was Thoreau’s dart board. He argued that Webster failed to speak for the people. Thoreau loathed politicians.

Donald Trump is not a politician. The press, attacking him hourly on all fronts for his alleged shortcomings and failures politically, have severely missed the point. He’s a deal maker. A salesman. You say you’re not buying what he’s selling? I believe you. That’s our freedom to choose in a seller/buyer relationship. However, the art of the deal hinges on just one factor. Even if buyers like just one selling point out of a hundred, a seller can still win their approval. Most important is the deal. That’s all a vote is.

But the other prevailing reason Trump’s president, and some longtime politician is not, is because of Barack Obama. If Obama’s reign would have been so prolific and superior, then a successor, with uber-popular politics, would have bubbled to the surface. But none did. Although the frenetic social media culture is clamoring for another Obama, the groundwork and grassroots juggernaut his minions created have dissipated into useless splinter movements.

Celebration for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008.

Fast forward to 2020. Where’s the titillating excitement?

America has fizzled out on politicians. HBO’s Bill Maher, self-described as politically incorrect, says the nation needs someone with “rock star” appeal. Personalities like Oprah, George Clooney, even Kayne West who threw his hat in the ring, have been stirred into the cookie mix. What has materialized? Billionaire Bloomberg thought he was the “star” they were looking for. Obviously he wasn’t. The Beatles said it best: “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

If the nation wants a politician to hold the office at 1600 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, someone needs to emerge. An authentic and unashamed red-blooded American. Someone who rises to the level Kennedy aspired to and delivered abundantly to the American people. Any ethnicity. Any gender. Any preference. It doesn’t matter. Just be real. Transparent. That’s what Americans want.

Don Haddix at home in Southern California.

I don’t hear that from politicians today seeking the office. I hear opportunists. I hear apologists. I hear globalists. I hear socialists. Those appealing to the group-think, the cancel culture, and the foibles of the world. America doesn’t follow the world. It leads it. The world’s most appealing ideas will not forge a bright, positive, progressive, and attractive path for this nation. Our own will.

Like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump was a Democrat most of his life. In his life’s endeavor, building and creating construction projects, Trump was a progressive. I’d argue, he still is. Like Reagan, his ideology drifted away from being a Democrat. I would venture to say he’s not a traditional Republican either, although it’s his party now. Old school ‘elephants,’ like the Bushes and Romneys, loathe him. The Never Trumpers have left in droves. But he doesn’t need their coattails to win. More people are buying what he’s selling and that’s all he needs. The GOP is now the Party of Trump.

Trump, the reluctant politician, succeeded because Americans, like Thoreau, are disillusioned with politics. The slick, glossy, manicured rhetoric spun from media minds and Hollywood has fallen on its face. It’s like a foul taste in our mouth. We spit it out in disgust every time. Trump will be re-elected, because politicians are failing to speak to the nation.

Maybe they should read “Profiles in Courage” to figure out how.


  1. It is not easy to speak up or out these days when what you have to say is not in line with what most in the media, academia or Hollywood have to say. As to whether or not you are right, we will know in a matter of months. Thank you Donald.

    1. Eric. Thanks. You’re right. Time will tell. Right now, even detractors opine momentum has swung in Trump’s favor. Moviemaker (using the term liberally) Michael Moore’s forecast echoes mine. “I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance,” Moore Facebooked on Saturday. “The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much.”

  2. Well said. Thank you, Mr. Haddix. Mr. Trump probably isn’t the best conservative candidate, but he’s the best one running, and is better than the current opposition candidates. Yes, plural. I suspect that, should Biden win, after about 2.1 years he would resign; allowing Harris to finish his term and work towards 8 more years in the White House. I’m not sure this country would survive that as a constitutional republic. I suspect it would devolve into something unrecognizeable, and anyone who could afford to would be emigrating.

    1. You actually recognize the “constitutional republic” that we’re living in today, Denver? I sure don’t! I remember when Republicans were fiscally conservative and hated the Russian machine. Not so much today. I’m not in love with any of the Democratic possibles either, but to think we’d be better off as a nation with four more years of Trump is sheer lunacy.

      1. Unfortunately, Alan, the comparison is “four more years of Trump” versus “two years of Biden plus 10 years of Harris”. Neither is very palatable, but we have to make a choice of the better of the two options. And at least Trump isn’t socialist.

    2. Thank you Denver for your reply. The last endeavor I had before I became a teacher for many years in a predominant minority school district was a short fling with the dot com industry. That was 20 years ago. I was not alone in my brief dance as a dot-commer. Thousands of us thought it was the new gold rush at that time. They lured me away from my solid and lucrative corporate position for greener pastures. The temptations were great. I too jumped for the idea I might be on the ground floor of a start up Microsoft or Apple, Inc. A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately, for me and most dot-commers, the software being demonstrated to serious buyers was an empty shell. The dot com boom went bust. We called the software that looked real with deceptive ‘smoke and mirrors’ screen shots – vaporware.

      I think you have good merit to be suspicious of the ‘bait and switch’ possibilities of Joe Biden’s run for office. The glitzy demo version of Joe 2.0, like the faux screen shots from the dot com boom, makes his campaign look authentic and real. But there’s no binary code supporting the CPU. No multi-tasking processors. No applications to support running queries and accessing data base tables. In summary, after the user clicks on the menu for operational and executable functionality, all they get are null values. Teleprompters can prop Mr. Biden up. But voters will recognize the inevitable. His campaign is just like the dot com software pretenders of two decades ago. Vaporware 2020.

  3. As a Boomer and an Independent politically, I still idealize JFK and would vote for him today. His “Profiles in Courage” is a fave, and I still can hear “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” I also believe the buzz that JFK might show up as a Republican today… and I lean conservative today too, both morally and fiscally. Leaves me with the Republican platform over the Democrat one.

    1. Laurie. Good comments. I concur. My previous article mentioned that same phrase. It’s what inspired me when I was at a crossroads after the dotcom bust. I always wanted to be a school teacher and I wanted to give back to my community. Being a teacher in a minority populated school district was rewarding beyond my imagination. Reading books out loud on Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and other important historical black figures was inspirational to the students. But the one on Ruby Bridges, the 6 year old black girl escorted by Federal Marshals into school, vividly remains 20 years later. One student defied me to read out loud. Said I couldn’t make him. Profanity was also included. “Fine”, I said. “But you’ll have to write ‘Ruby Bridges’ on a sheet of paper. 100 times.” He did it. I kept the paper. It’s etched in my mind. I hope it’s etched in his mind as well.

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