People will recall President Eisenhower's farewell speech for his warning about the dangers of an emerging military-industrial complex.
It far overshadowed another powerful message in Eisenhower's January 1961 address - his appreciation for cooperation between Congress and his Administration during his eight years as President. But that point has become particularly relevant these days.
"Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation," Eisenhower said.
"The Congress and the Administration, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together."
It is troubling to contrast the former Republican president's view with the Republican norm today. Compared with the growth and relative well-being of the middle class in Eisenhower's day, today's trend is one of increasing income inequality between the rich and well-off and everyone else.
Eisenhower could say - as he did in his address - the nation avoided war during his tenure (despite crises in the Middle East and the belligerence of the Soviet Union). The United States remains at war today after more than 20 years of bloodshed, with some arch Conservatives in Congress seemingly eager for more.
Today, the Republicans' quest to separate themselves from nearly everything President Obama supports stands in contrast to what the Eisenhower Administration and Congress achieved to lead the country through an era of prosperity. But rather than Eisenhower, Republicans worship former President Reagan, whose rope-a-dope military budgets successfully dared the Soviet Union to keep pace and led to its demise, but whose trickle down/supply side economics has failed the majority of Americans today.
Yet wealthy business interests and the elected extremists they bankroll can rely on a voting bloc that amazingly supports candidates and policies that adversely affect their own self-interests.
One example involves a disconnect between health care politics and one's odds of facing serious medical problems. The American Cancer Society predicts the lifetime risk of developing cancer for men is slightly less than one in two and for women a little more than one in three. It predicts 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 cancer-related deaths in 2015 in the United States. Think back and into the future for several years and millions of people have been, or will be at risk. And that just involves cancer.
Do opponents of the Affordable Care Act or creation of a more inclusive, more equitable national health insurance system, get it? Instead, they vote to maintain moneyed health industry interests, while some embrace an ideology of excessive individualism, such as those at a 2011 Republican Presidential campaign debate in Tampa who shouted out support to let people die in lieu of enacting a better national health insurance program.
Until the majority of Americans make political decisions in their own self-interest, let alone combine self-interest and a long-term vision for the nation's well-being, the solution to issues involving the middle class and the poor can be captured in two words: Keep worrying.
But some leaders have not given up on the notion that if a majority of people would turn out and vote, that could advance the interests of the many over the few.
President Obama focused on the impact of the lack of voter turnout, which reached a 72-year-low in 2014 mid-term elections at 36.4 percent of eligible voters casting midterm election ballots in his recent South Florida Town Hall meeting on immigration:
"In the last election, a little over one-third of eligible voters voted. One-third! Two-thirds of the people who have the right to vote ... stayed home. I'm willing to bet that there are young people who have family members who are at risk of the existing immigration system who still didn't vote.
"Why are you not participating? There are war-torn countries, people full of poverty, who still voted 60, 70 percent. If here in the United States of America, we voted at 60 percent, 70 percent, it would transform our politics. Our Congress would be completely different. We would have already passed comprehensive immigration reform."
Progressive activists in a number of states have begun efforts to register more voters, against the tide of politically created obstacles to vote. One noteworthy effort, the "90 For 90 Voter Registration Project" in Virginia, has a goal to register at least 90 new voters in each of Virginia's 2,550 precincts.
It draws inspiration and the numbers 90 from Dr. William Ferguson Reid, a Virginia physician who turns 90 years old on March 18 (Wednesday). Wills Dahl, the author of a Baltimore Post-Examiner profile last month on Reid, characterized Fergie as a civil rights icon, appropriate for a man whose 1967 election as the first African American winning a seat in Virginia's General Assembly in the 20th century is but one of myriad achievements.
"So much money is involved in politics today, our only salvation is to get people to realize this is a war and our only weapon is to vote," Reid said in an interview Saturday with Beach Peanuts. "The Koch brothers are spending more than $800 million to influence the next election, but they have only two votes, the same two as you and your husband have. It is the only way to fight back."
Reid said the 90 For 90 movement began when he was asked what he'd like for his 90th birthday. It's gained momentum from his friends and a number of candidates vying in Virginia's off-year elections, with June 9th primaries. Adding nearly a quarter-million voters would seem to be a daunting goal with such short deadlines, but that's where Reid's experience, intellect and energy pay off.
"I have an advantage because I have been involved in politics since 1955 (creating a Virginia group called the Crusade For Voters), so I can see things from a long perspective" Reid said.
"It's not just about the next election. We can't do it overnight. Each election should be a dress rehearsal for the next one."
Guest blogger Ted Jackovics collaborated with Martha Jackovics on this post.