I suppose I was naive in 1966 when I walked up the stairs to the local Republican Club on the East Side of New York City, the 17th congressional district, and volunteered to canvas for Ted Kupferman for Congress.
It had been John V. Lindsay's seat.
What I knew about politics could be fit into a thimble. But my father was a Republican, and he always seemed to know what was happening in the world--as most fathers do.
I was teamed up with Beth. We canvassed with such zeal, we succeeded in getting out the most votes in our appointed AD within the district. One of the doors we knocked on was Chet Huntley's. He smiled and assured us he would vote. Another door-opener was an 80-odd year old woman who hadn't voted in years. We offered to take her to the polls; she accepted and voted.
As a reward for achieving a record turn-out, we were offered a first class railroad ticket and an all expenses paid 2-day trip to Washington, D.C.
It was my first visit to the Capitol. I was astonished by what I saw and what I learned. We visited the White House, traveled underground between buildings, visited the Congress and were greeted by the new Congressman.
The White House, and Congressional Office Buildings paled in comparison to that underground train.
But what has remained with me all these years later is our last stop at FBI headquarters. The corridor walls were adorned with huge anti-communist posters. Tables on one floor were littered with anti-communist literature. Then FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, hated communists more than terrorists and probably more than criminals.
All of the posters and literature reminded me then of those school bells that had us hiding under our desks, or forming long lines preparing for imminent danger and the nearest bomb shelter. The Cold War was more than a nuisance.
As I read the headlines, op-ed pieces, listen to television commentators, ingest political blogs and occasionally read a political book, I think about that visit to Mr. Hoover's house of hate and how it influenced our country and perpetuated McCarthyism.
Today as I read this piece at the Huffington Post, I sensed my growing fear that we are headed for perdition.