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Hillary Rodham Clinton as Symbol of the 1960s

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) January 30, 2016: The editorial board of the New York Times has now endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 and John Kasich for the Republican nomination.

Their endorsement of Hillary Clinton should come as a surprise to no one. As they note in their editorial "the Times editorial board has endorsed her three times for federal office -- twice for Senate and once in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary."

In terms of symbolism, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary emerged as the prospect of possibly electing the first woman president versus the prospect of possibly electing the first African American president. In the end, the Democratic Party decided to go for the prospect of electing the first African American president in 2008. And Senator Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.

As a result, President Obama then faced a barrage of anti-Obama books and other commentaries from the conservative noise machine, as Bill Press details in his book The Obama Hate Machine: The Lies, Distortions, and Personal Attacks on the President -- and Who Is Behind Them (2012).

If progressives and liberals published as many lies, distortions, and personal attacks about President George W. Bush, I am not aware of a book comparable to Press' 2012 book about them.

In the book Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (2006), Philip Jenkins details how the conservative noise machine has used anti-60s rhetoric for decades now. But President Obama was born in 1961, so he really was not a significant figure in the 1960s or 1970s. Nevertheless, as the first African American president, he serves as a symbol of the black civil rights movement that made significant headway in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now, in terms of symbolism, the 2016 Democratic presidential primary has emerged as the prospect of possibly electing the first woman president versus the prospect of possibly electing the first secular Jew president. In short, a white woman religionist versus a white man secularist.

I know, I know, recent polls of religious preference have shown an increasing number of people claim to have no religion -- the "nones." Thus the market share of religionists appears to be diminishing in size, at least with respect to institutional religion.

Besides, there's supposed to be no test of religion for political office.

Nevertheless, it strikes me as unlikely that the American voters would elect a secularist to be president in 2016. To his credit, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (born in 1941) is not anti-religion, as are certain other secularists.

No doubt a secularist running for president in 2016 would help ignite the conservative noise machine, just as a woman running for president in 2016 would.

But there are far more women voters who might rally to help elect a woman president in 2016 than there are secularists -- and secularist sympathizers among religionists.

Of course a lot would depend on the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 2016 -- and any independent presidential candidates who might yet emerge in 2016.

Like President Bill Clinton (born in 1946) and President George W. Bush (born in 1946), Hillary Rodham Clinton (born in 1947) is a Baby Boomer who lived through the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s.

Under the influence of her father's Republican views, young Hillary Rodham was a Goldwater girls in the 1964 presidential campaign, which the Republican candidate Senator Barry Goldwater lost by a landslide to the Democratic candidate President Lyndon B. Johnson.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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