Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Presidential Votes

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

This election marks the eleventh time that I have cast a ballot for President of the United States.  During the first ten elections, 1972-2008, I voted for the winning candidate four times.  If I have chosen the winner this time, and I know that I have chosen the better person and hope that he will be the winner, that will still leave me at just five for eleven.  Obviously America needs to pay more attention to my views and follow my lead in voting!

I was living overseas in 1972 (Okinawa) and cast my first presidential vote for George McGovern by absentee ballot.  I was twenty-four-years-old.   The federal voting age had dropped from twenty-one to eighteen sometime during the preceding four years - meaning I had been to young to vote in 1968 when I was twenty.  (Good thing, too.  I would have probably voted for Nixon in 1968 - and would still be feeling guilty about it!)

I was back home in Noel, Missouri, in 1976, going to school and getting ready to become a teacher.  That year I voted for Jimmy Carter.  It was exhilarating to have cast my vote for a winner.  With the election of Carter, the dark reign of Richard Nixon officially ended - even though Nixon had slunk out of office in shame two years before.

My vote in 1980 went to John Anderson, a third party, anti-Reagan Republican, who basically served to pull votes away from Carter.  Lots of people were angry with Carter for lots of reasons:  the Iranian hostage crisis, high gasoline and grocery prices, and other things over which he basically had little or no control.  I remember being miffed that he continued to support federal subsidies for tobacco farmers.   I was living in south-central Missouri learning how to teach high school students when that election took place.

By 1984 I was back in Noel serving at the elementary school principal in my home town.  I was also politically active working as the McDonald County Democratic Party Chair.   My vote went to Walter Mondale, but the election, sadly, went to the incumbent - Ronnie Ray Gun - zap!

I was still in Noel in 1988 when I cast my presidential vote for Michael Dukakis.  The Republicans, continuing their downward trajectory that began with Nixon in 1960, ran their sitting Vice-President, George H.W. Bush, who won and started a very ugly political dynasty.

My second winner came in 1992 with the election of Bill Clinton.  I was living in Noel and trying to make a living selling real estate.  Things were so hard that year that I worked at the local polling place where I made a twenty dollar bill for fourteen hours of work.

Clinton won again in 1996, again with the benefit of my vote.  He defeated Senator Bob Dole.  A friend of mine who had grown up in Kansas and was basically a Republican voted for Clinton because he felt that Dole was "a really mean bastard."

My vote wandered back to a third-party candidate in 2000, the year of the squeaker election between Gore and Bush, the first election that the Bush camp stole.  One of my kids was voting for the first time and was brimming with idealism.  He told me that he was voting for Ralph Nader and gave me his reasoning for why he felt that the consumer activist was the best choice.  I was in my fifties by then and beginning to realize that my time was passing and that election was more about the next generation.   I discussed it with my dad, a severe Republican, whose guidance was "You'll just be throwing your vote away."   But, whether it was a throwaway or not, Nader got my vote - and I never regretted it.

The Bush people had us bogged down in two wars by 2004 when they stole another election through vote-counting shenanigans in Ohio.  I voted for John Kerry

My candidate in 2008 was Barack Obama.   I had donated to his campaign even before his official announcement that he was running, and my passion for the Obama candidacy never wavered.  It was one of the proudest votes that I ever cast.

And as for 2012?  Obama, of course.  He has done some remarkable things as President, especially considering that the only Republican agenda for the past four years seems to have been to keep him from accomplishing anything.   President Obama is honest and open (the complete opposite of his opponent) - and committed to moving the country forward.    I was proud to have voted for him this year from Arizona.

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