Just over fifty years ago, on September 26, 2010, the first televised presidential debate took place between JFK and Nixon. To celebrate the fifty year anniversary of this monumental event, the Kennedy Presidential Library has uploaded the entire JFK-Nixon debate to YouTube. The JFK Library YouTube channel has uploaded a lot of Kennedy clips, including the debate, the JFK Campaign Jingle, his candidacy announcement and more. I for one think that this is really cool, and it lets viewers take a trip back in time to not only learn about history but to see and experience it.
I wasn’t alive in 1960 to experience JFK and I think it’s pretty cool that I can now watch all sorts of old footage of his campaign, debates and speeches on YouTube to get an idea of who the man was, his mannerisms and more. Sure, there are other ways to see JFK in action, from watching documentaries and hunting down archival footage, but with all these videos on YouTube you can now watch them within seconds.
I found it really interesting to watch the JFK-Nixon debate, not only in terms of seeing the two men speak, but also in terms of seeing how politics and platforms have changed over the last fifty years. In the debate, JFK and Nixon discuss domestic issues as well as human rights, Communism and other outdated concepts. I love the fact that we can see JFK and Nixon talking about what they want to do for the country when we know how things ended up in the “future”, and whether or not their dreams were fulfilled.
You can watch the debate below, or check out other 50-year old footage on the JFK Library channel. Imagine what Americans were doing when this was originally broadcast – how they were feeling, what they were wearing, what their ideals were. What do you think of the fact that these YouTube clips allow us to see history in action?