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Sarasota Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2018 2 years ago

Voices of Patriotism: Barbara Schwartz

Former protester and Nixon staffer, 68.
by: Niki Kottmann Managing Editor of Arts and Entertainment

The 68-year-old Longboat Key resident went from spending every weekend of her college career at protests to working for the Nixon White House. Yet her love of country has never faltered.

Interviewed by Niki Kottmann

"In my day, demonstrations were the social life, so you could get off campus and go march. I wouldn’t say I had a very cultivated, political opinion on anything, but we sure did want changes and we did get the war in Vietnam to end as the result of all these students marches, so I believe in the power of a protest.''

"Activism was a chance to be involved in something new and exciting and young people all over were getting onboard. It was exciting to be a part of a political movement. I don’t know if (American) young people are feeling that way these days. Maybe with gun control.''

"It was part of being young in the Woodstock days. I feel much more political now as a grown-up and having my tax dollars matter.''

"I graduated as a fuzzy-haired liberal and took a job in the Nixon White House as the Clearance Control Specialist working in the party patronage office. Talk about having no scruples at all — I just went for the job." 

"Patriotism, I think, is to love this country, and maybe a lot of people don’t love it anymore. Our parents made huge sacrifices. They were the greatest generation. Country came first, and I don’t know that too many people feel that way now.''

"I’m a little worried about the future of patriotism in America. I think everybody is so disenchanted with the political system … it just seems like we’re losing our way in being inventive and cohesive and positive."

"I think anybody that travels comes back with an appreciation that America is a pretty fine place to be from. But I think in this global day in age, patriotism has been sidelined a little. I don’t think people are forced to take civic classes like we did.''

"My parents were both first and second generation Americans and look at where we are. It’s pretty nice for your relatives to have come over in steerage on a boat and because of education and lots of good luck and grit, we’re living the life of Riley. I’d like to feel that America could still offer that to everyone with rare exceptions."

"I think it’s great to be American, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else. I can’t think of a single country I’d rather live in. It used to be when I went abroad I couldn’t wait to come home and get a hamburger but now it’s more about what a nice life we have here. That’s because I’ve been lucky. I worked hard and did well and the system worked for me. It doesn’t work for everybody, and that’s what I think is worrisome."

"I’m not going anywhere else, this is it. I like our values."

"I like the idea of Ben Franklin and Yankee ingenuity."

"My family is here, this is all I know, so I think American values are good values as long as — I don’t like to see discussions shut down. I think hard work gets you ahead. A penny saved is a penny earned. The early bird catches the word. All those things we grew up hearing, I think those are American values. Not to sit around and take a siesta and wait for the benefits.''

"American values — I’m not sure what they are for everybody anymore but that resourcefulness, I like to feel that we are that and that we’re not just going to be recipients of state benefits and a 1984 kind of environment. I think we are a city on a shining mountain or whatever Reagan called us."

"I think voting is very important. I would like to see more people moving towards activism that way, and I think protests are good and arguments, debates, intellectual sparring is a really good thing. I would hate to see any of that close down.

"I do worry that we’re not moving together, that we’re very polarized."

"I love America. I like to travel but I can’t wait to get home to America. It’s been good to me."

"You have to be willing to put some elbow grease in, but the opportunities are there to be seized and I don’t know if people feel that way anymore and that’s what worries me about the future of America.''


I'm the Managing Editor of Arts & Entertainment here, which means I write, edit and share stories about our multifaceted A&E scene in Sarasota. I graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism and a French minor. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 356

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