Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Local Lesson In Politics

                             September 1968
  Henry Ford is quoted widely as saying that “history is bunk.”
  I never had anything personal against Henry but I naturally felt he was way off base in that remark since my very best subject in school was history. Actually, Henry probably is sorry he said it too since he went on to build one of America’s most famous historical spots— the Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum.
  Someone was willing to bet me the other day that Rochester had never cast a majority of its votes for a Democrat running for the White House.
  I answered that I felt that I was taking advantage of him because I knew that our community did indeed help elect a Democrat to the White House and it should have been within the memory of anybody who lived here within the past few years.
  It was only four years ago, in November 1964, that Avon Township electors (which then included the Village of Rochester in the Avon Township results) gave Lyndon Johnson a 1,300 vote plurality over Barry Goldwater. Johnson received 4,851 votes; Goldwater, 3,551.
  LOCAL VOTERS also gave pluralities to Democratic Senator Phil Hart and Secretary of State Jim Hare. That was a record vote then too with 10,549 electors lining up at the 12 precincts to cast their votes.
  “Well, then, I’ll bet you that before the 1964 election, Avon Township never helped elect a Democrat to the White House,” my friend asserted.
  “I should take that bet, “ I replied, “but I just don’t think it’s cricket because I happen to know you’re wrong.” (The reason I know is because I looked up the record when I wrote the story in 1964 about Johnson and Goldwater.)
  It was back in the election of 1936 when Avon Township electors turned their thumbs down on the Republican nominee, Alf Landon. And their majority support to Franklin Roosevelt who was seeking his second term.
  The plurality at that election, however, wasn’t as great as the Johnson-Goldwater election.    
  The Roosevelt-Landon vote here went 1,295 to 1,109. That must have made a lot of old-time Republicans turn blue with rage and wondering what their wonderful little community was coming to.
  WHAT ARE the chance of the city of Rochester and Avon Township turning Democratic in the future?
  The normal 2-1 ratio of Republicans over Democrats has slipped somewhat in the past six years, but it still has a long way to go. There are apparently many independent thinkers living here and they may switch to the Democratic side for a candidate or two, but not for the whole slate.
  What about Avon-Rochester’s presidential vote this November between Republican Richard Nixon and Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey? Richard Nixon was a 5-3 local winner in November 1960 over Kennedy who won the national contest. The vote was 5,362 to 3,190.    
   There’s no reason to believe that Humphrey today is any more popular than Kennedy was then.
  Of course, if you believe that “history is bunk,” then go ahead and bet.