Describe an act of political courage by a United States elected official that took place during or after 1956.

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Political courage is a relative term. Political courage happens when a politician does what he/she believes is the right thing even though it could be politically damaging.

One such act is when John F. Kennedy took the blame for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The planning for...

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Political courage is a relative term. Political courage happens when a politician does what he/she believes is the right thing even though it could be politically damaging.

One such act is when John F. Kennedy took the blame for the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The planning for the invasion largely took place during the latter weeks of the Eisenhower administration. Kennedy reluctantly signed off on the invasion but did not provide American air support, thus making its odds of success limited. Kennedy did this to avoid sparking a larger conflict with the Soviet Union. When the invasion failed due to bad intelligence and even poorer planning by the CIA, Kennedy took responsibility for the whole thing even though it made his administration look weak.

Another controversial act that may be considered one of political courage took place when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Nixon selected Ford to be the vice president when Spiro Agnew was indicted for fraud. Ford was next in line to be president when Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal. Ford pardoned Nixon even though he knew it would be widely believed that this was a corrupt bargain that got him the presidency. Ford did this so in the hopes that the nation would move forward and not have its attention taken up by a massive public trial which would serve only to tarnish the Nixon reputation. Ford's actions probably cost him the presidency in 1976 as he was defeated by a Democrat who ran as a Washington outsider, Jimmy Carter.

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Political courage is often in the eye of the beholder.  What one person sees as courageous, another will see as idiocy and bullheadedness.  Let us look at two examples that can be looked at in either way.

First, there was President George Bush, Sr.'s decision to abandon his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge.  One can argue that this was an act of political courage because Bush had to go back on a promise he had made when he realized that he had been wrong to make that promise.

Second, you can say that President Obama's effort to pass the "Obamacare" reforms was an act of political courage.  Obama believed in the need for reforms.  He acted on that belief even though (as it now turns out) his actions were relatively unpopular among the electorate.  

In both cases, we can call these actions examples of political courage even though many people abhor both of these actions.

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