Effect of age issues on 1960s American politics, especially during the Kennedy administration
Gant is unsure whether the United States became divided on the issue of youth in the 1960s, but he recognizes how the issue of age impacted the Kennedy administration. Gant is impressed with how Everett Jordan showed loyalty to his staff despite changes in the political climate.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- BEN BULLA:
Was there a change in this country from the so called ERA people, the
younger folks and the John Kennedys and Robert
Kennedys; a youthful group. Was that a sort of
mass type of thing at that time where youth versus age was taking a
- ROGER GANT:
Yeah, I guess so. The mood of the country changes from time to time.
Some of these changes happen very quickly and are
very short term; Camelot, the Kennedy Camelot era
certainly had an effect on the country, and still has. Many people
consider John F. Kennedy to be one of their great personal heros. Even I
do in some respects. I think John F. Kennedy was certainly one of the
great leaders we've had. He was very charismatic, and like the Pied
Piper, when he blew his horn, people followed. Whether he led them in
the right direction is another story. I guess the mood of the country
had something to do with it.
- BEN BULLA:
Do you think the Democratic Party had become complacent?
- ROGER GANT:
Ben, I'm no political strategist. Gosh, I don't know, I don't understand
the way the public behaves. I think the fact that these issues of health
and age were constantly touted in the media and by the other side,
certainly were the principle cause, whether they were legitimate or not
is not the question, but the fact that they were constantly brought to
the public's attention certainly had an impact. I don't know about the
general youth syndrome because there were a lot of older people who
were; look at Walter Jones. You talk about age and
health, Walter Jones should have been gone from the Congress years ago.
That guy can't even get to the floor to vote but about one time out of
ten his health is so bad, but nobody has made an issue about it.
. . . protective of the people that worked for him. Look at the people
on his Washington staff. When he knew that he wouldn't be back he found
good jobs for everybody on his staff I think, that wanted to stay there,
from Bill Cochrane right on down to the newest clerk. He placed them all
and I think that's a great credit to the respect that other people had
for him. If they hadn't had that respect then they wouldn't have found
jobs for these people. It was a much less friendly capital than it would
have been had he won his election.