I was a political science major at Hunter College in the early 1960's, just before John F. Kennedy was elected. It was a time of feeling hopeful about politics and excited. That, of course, is natural for young people. They feel, in a way, that the world starts with them, and in a way they are right. For each generation, the world begins again.
I remember the President's call to young people to "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Have we lost this idealism now? I wonder. I think my generation was idealistic, but it was not naive because we had grown up with parents who had experienced the effects of the Depression and we ourselves were small children in the World War II years. I think we knew what evil was and the sorrow of terrible loss and what men and women can do to each other. But we had real hope and the faith of a better world. I recall my middle school class in the late 1940's singing the song "One world, built on a firm foundation, built on a firm foundation of peace..." My school was only a few blocks north of the UN building in NY. Maybe only for a brief time, we had that peace. We were to learn that war never ends, only too soon. It wasn't long until the Korean War escalated.
But when John F. Kennedy was elected, he brought a feeling of newness again to the highest office. He was courageous, a war hero from World War II, and his wife was beautiful and drew the attention of the nation to culture and art. During those years, the Peace Corps was established, encouraging young Americans to go forth into the world and work to make it a better place, and they did.
I think myself, that is the genius of America, the faith in this nation that it is the best nation in the world, and the generous spirit of its people. May that never change.
Read the Federalist Papers, if you want to know the thinking of the Founding Fathers.
And go vote.