Presidential Election: 1960

Who do you vote for as President in 1960?

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  • Total voters
    18

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,071
VA
#1
The year is 1960, and the election of that year will be one of the closest and hardest fought in American history. Dwight Eisenhower's eight-year administration is coming to an end, and his Vice-President Richard Nixon runs on the Republican ticket to succeed him and continue his policies. His Democratic opponent is Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, who runs as a hardline anti-communist to equal Nixon himself on foreign policy, criticizing the Eisenhower administration for purportedly allowing a missile gap to develop between the US and the Soviet Union, with a more liberal domestic platform to complement it. While Eisenhower remains personally popular, some are ready to move on from his laissez-faire leadership style, which takes a slight credibility hit in 1960 due to the shootdown of an American spy plane by the Soviet Union and the bungled public response to it. Kennedy adroitly presents himself as the candidate of the future with fresh ideas while Nixon runs on the record of himself and the administration.



Here are the party platforms.



Republican: Republican Party Platforms: Republican Party Platform of 1960


Democratic: Democratic Party Platforms: 1960 Democratic Party Platform
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,297
US
#3
Close call. If I was actually back in 1960, I would have probably leaned toward Kennedy, with his youth and charisma.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,735
At present SD, USA
#4
I'd lean heavily toward Kennedy. He was young, well spoken, and in many ways DID have good ideas on moving the country forward, particularly on the domestic issues that related to Civil Rights, which would be a major issue that would come to center stage during his time in office and under LBJ after Kennedy's assassination... Which would be something I don't really see Nixon embracing very much, though that could be more a hindsight judgement than anything else...

And on the foreign policy side of things... while both JFK and Nixon claimed to be anti-Communist, the manner in which they did so was very different. JFK would argue in favor of new ideas, whereas Nixon was largely left with the fact that his support for McCarthyism, which proved to be a glorified witch-hunt and ruined lives in the process.

The greatest single "issue" that could really hamper JFK would be the fact that because of his youth and inexperience, he wouldn't be able to get a lot of his ideas into action, particularly with regard to Civil Rights where his biggest hurdle wouldn't be the Republicans, as many Republicans at the time WOULD support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but with Southern Democrats who tended to be more conservative on many issues than their Northern counterparts, and opposing Civil Rights was one of those hurdles that they'd likely hamper JFK on... especially if one assumes that the assassination of Kennedy is an unknown.
 
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Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,071
VA
#6
Hindsight makes this a pretty easy vote for Kennedy for me; I shudder to think of the Cuban Missile Crisis with Nixon at the helm. (And no, I'm not going to buy into the premise that even American air support under a President Nixon would have made the Bay of Pigs succeed, given the numbers involved)
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,806
SoCal
#7
Hindsight makes this a pretty easy vote for Kennedy for me; I shudder to think of the Cuban Missile Crisis with Nixon at the helm. (And no, I'm not going to buy into the premise that even American air support under a President Nixon would have made the Bay of Pigs succeed, given the numbers involved)
Would Nixon have actually placed U.S. missiles in Turkey in the first place, though? After all, that was what provoked the Soviet Union into placing its own missiles in Cuba.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,071
VA
#8
Would Nixon have actually placed U.S. missiles in Turkey in the first place, though? After all, that was what provoked the Soviet Union into placing its own missiles in Cuba.
Is there a particular reason to think Nixon wouldn't have agreed to deploy missiles to a NATO member? Also, I have generally read that the missiles in Turkey were only part of Khrushchev's motivation for the Cuban deployment. One might argue that Khrushchev might not have tried this on the more seasoned Nixon in comparison to what he believed to be an ineffectual Kennedy administration, but by nature that would be speculative.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,806
SoCal
#9
Is there a particular reason to think Nixon wouldn't have agreed to deploy missiles to a NATO member? Also, I have generally read that the missiles in Turkey were only part of Khrushchev's motivation for the Cuban deployment. One might argue that Khrushchev might not have tried this on the more seasoned Nixon in comparison to what he believed to be an ineffectual Kennedy administration, but by nature that would be speculative.
There is a possibility that Nixon--being more cautious and astute--would have realized that putting missiles into a NATO member which borders the Soviet Union is a bad move. This is what distinguishes Turkey from, say, Germany or Greece--Turkey directly borders the Soviet Union while Germany and Greece do not.

Granted, I am only speculating here, but given his interest in foreign affairs, I would think that Nixon would have been more aware of Soviet sensitivities than JFK was. Also, as you said, the Soviet Union could have also put missiles in Cuba to test the young and inexperienced JFK; of course, this is also speculative.

Maybe the safe vote would be for JFK--and I probably would have voted for JFK without hindsight--but given how close the world came to nuclear war in 1962, it is understandable that I would also seriously flirt with Nixon in 1960 if one has the benefit of hindsight.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,071
VA
#10
There is a possibility that Nixon--being more cautious and astute

My challenge here would be to go review a large chunk of the tape transcripts from the Nixon White House during foreign policy crises, and tell me honestly that you think the guy was consistently cautious and rational. Even leaving that aside, I simply do not believe that a Nixon elected in 1960 would be as accommodating towards the Soviets as the Nixon that was elected in 1968; the political theatre had changed by then. A Nixon in Kennedy's shoes in October 1962 listens to the bulk of the advice he's getting and attacks Cuba.
 

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