In a fiery speech given one week before the 1974 midterms, Sargent Shriver laid out what he saw as the issues that mattered most in the election. By placing importance on subjects that affected the daily lives of citizens, and by stressing the need for "truth telling," Sargent Shriver made the point that voters had to identify candidates who would protect people's democratic freedoms and their well-being, and who did not get caught up in deceptive political rhetoric or power plays.
To place Sargent Shriver's speech in a historical context: the 1974 midterms came at a difficult moment for the United States. Gerald Ford had recently become President after the resignation of Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal. The US economy was suffering, inflation was mounting, and the country faced a serious energy crisis. Sargent Shriver outlined the high stakes and went as far as to say: "Your future, and the fate of America, possibly for generations, will be determined by the winners in these mid-term elections ..." And it was in this context that he asked his audience to get back to basics and to focus on the issues that were most important.
Forty-four years have passed since Sargent Shriver spoke these words. Many things have changed, but we are in our own high-stakes moment, and the "subjects of top importance" are very similar. With our own midterm elections two weeks away, Sargent Shriver's words serve as a reminder to support the candidates who are focusing on the issues that matter for our citizens and for our democracy in an open and truthful way.