The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History

By Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 21

The Politics of Anxiety and Affluence

"The State of Washington is famous in the nation's capital for its salmon, its
stability, and its United States senators. The salmon is matchless, and some
of the stability is probably illusory, but the contributions to the political
system made by such senators as Henry M. Jackson and Warren G. Magnu-
son are undisputed. In fairness, the name of Daniel J. Evans, especially as
governor, should be added to this equation. The common thread of Jack-
son's and Evans's political careers is a constructive independence that
avoids the extremes of the maverick or of rigid partisanship."--Louis S.
Cannon, Washington Post political reporter and National Public Radio's
Morning Edition commentator, Fall 1986 Pettyjohn Lecture

During the decade of the 1950s, a majority of voters in all three Pacific Northwest states twice turned to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the popular general who had helped win World War II and who as president of the United States seemed the ideal person to fight the Cold War. He offered comfort during a decade of anxiety: to the New York Times, Ike resembled "everybody's grandfather."

It was possible to become too complacent during a time of unpredictable changes, as the world of popular music discovered. Hits of the early 1950s were safe and comfortable ditties like "Lady of Spain," "Doggie in the Window," and "Catch a Falling Star." But when popular music became too predictable, too lifeless, or too sweet for the generation of baby boomers, an increasing number of young people turned to the pounding new sound of

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