And then I voted for -- 03/09/00
As I mentioned Tuesday, I do not have a very good record of voting for the winner in presidential elections. I had to be twenty-one in order to vote, but even if the voting age had been eighteen back then, I still would have had to wait for the 1964 election to cast my first presidential ballot. This fall will be the tenth presidential election since I came of age; I do not think that I will be able to improve on my record of only having voted for one winning candidate.

Here are the choices that I made for president:

  • 1964 - Barry Goldwater Yes, it's true. It's all my fault. They said that if I voted for Goldwater we would become involved in a war in southeast Asia and have race riots in our cities and runaway inflation hitting our economy. So I voted for Goldwater and sure enough, we got in a war in Asia and had race riots and runaway inflation. Mea culpa. As a kid I had been a political junkie, watching gavel-to-gavel coverage of both nominating conventions, staying up all hours of the night waiting for the election returns to come in... I was so excited to be able to vote... I went to school, then voted, then to my job in a discount department store, could hardly wait for the store to close at nine p.m. so I could hurry home to watch the television coverage, to watch the vote counts climb, to watch my vote be counted. Got out to my car (1957 VW Beatle) in the parking lot just five or ten minutes past nine, got in, started it up, turned on the radio and heard the announcer say that the network was declaring Johnson the winner... just minutes after the polls had closed in New York, hours before they would close in the west... (hell, it was still morning in Hawaii!), but those bastards had their key precincts and their exit polls and their computer projections and they dumped ice water on my excitement. (Besides which, that bastard Johnson won!) Of course some of my love for politics had already been dampened by seeing how easily the Democratic party could lie to win. It was a nasty campaign (although we have certainly seen a lot more of that this year and will certainly see a lot more by November).
  • 1968 - Hubert Humphrey So I failed to pick the winner again. Actually, I did not support Humphrey in any way, but I had been persuaded by friends to vote for him on the basis of "What if Richard Nixon were to win by one vote?" So, although I had been planning to vote for Dick Gregory (running on the Peace and Freedom ticket) I ended up voting for HHH. The Chicago convention hurt Humphrey (hell, it hurt the whole country) and I was by far from convinced that he would be a good president (and I still don't think he would have done a good job) but I certainly couldn't support having Nixon in the office. Little did I know at that time that I didn't have the faintest clue as to just how horrible his time in office would be.
  • 1972 - I honestly can't remember... I had considered voting for George McGovern following the same logic as in 1968, except that I had been very dissatisfied at having voted that way, so I think I actually voted for the Socialist Labor candidate (or one of those oddball minor parties) but I really can't remember what one... A large group of neighbors had gathered to watch the election returns, a group that was generally stoned enough to that Walter Cronkite's announcement that it appeared Nixon was the winner was met with giggles.
  • 1976 - I couldn't vote caught by the arcane rules of registration... I had moved and had been misinformed about the dates for registering to vote in my new district... I was just parking my car on my way into my second shift computer operator job when the news announcer said "And this is the close of the registration period." Too late to register in my new district and I no longer lived in the town where I had previously voted, so I lost my ballot that year. This was the election where Jimmy Carter defeated Gerry Ford.
  • 1980 - John Anderson Yeah, I knew it was a longshot, but I opted for Anderson's challenge to the two party system; the outcome, of course, was what was expected, Ronald Reagan defeating Jimmy Carter. Somewhere around here I still have a campaign button: Anderson of Illinois. (Probably lost... I once had some I like Ike! buttons too, but haven't seen them in years.)
  • 1984 - Ronald Reagan. Yeah, honest... this was the only time I've ever voted for the winning candidate in a presidential election. (I have a much better record in Congressional and city council, etc. type elections.) I voted for Reagan for one key issue: defense. I believed (and still believe) that MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) was a stupid policy, the kind of fairy tale that policy wonks and academic intellectuals can fantasize about. It seemed to me that the most important reason for having a government in the first place it for mutual protection. Citizens need a government to protect them from thugs and thieves and killers, both foreign and domestic. The refusal of the Democratic Party and its candidate (Mondale) to strive for an anti-ballistic missile defense seemed to me to be a criminal abandonment of government's duty to protect the citizens who established it. So I voted for Reagan on the basis of his support for this protection. (This kind of issue would be enough to keep me from voting for any Democratic candidate, although I find Al Gore to be so despicable that I don't need additional reasons. Too bad that George Shrub is such a sleazebag.)
  • 1988 - Again, I don't remember the name of the candidate for whom I voted, but I believe I had cast my ballot for the Libertarian candidate (if they had managed to get on the ballot in New York State that year). I did not vote for Bush or Dukakis.
  • 1992 - George Bush Yeah, I actually voted for him. Disliked Clinton, thought he was a sleazy southern politician. Once upon a time I had admired Ross Perot and I was very excited at first when he began to talk about running for president... but the more I saw of him, the less I liked him. Not so much voting for Bush as against Clinton, was deeply annoyed that what had once seemed like a major reform movement turned into Ross Perot weirdness; came very close to voting for Perot anyway, but just couldn't do it. I though I might almost have a slight chance of voting for the winner. Oh well...
  • 1996 - The Socialist Vegetarian Party That is, some non-Republican, non-Democrat, non-RossPerot candidate. I don't remember -- hey, this was not exactly the high point of my year, ya know -- and there's even a slight chance that I might have flipped the lever for Dole, not that I expected him to win, nor even especially wanted him to win, just didn't want to vote for Clinton. However, it did not seem to me as if Clinton had screwed up as much as I had feared he might have. I thought he was following some incorrect policies, but his pragmatism (or desire for love or whatever) kept him from pushing some of the various liberal-left big brother ideas of government as super nanny.
  • 2000 - sure as hell doesn't look as if there will be much to choose from I despise Gore. I also despise Bush. But I also fear Gore. Shit, some choice. And the talking heads on Sundays wonder why voter turnout is so low.

Okay, enough political ranting. Well... after one more comment. I heard some political observer pontificating about Bush and the Republican party and he spoke of "Goldwater" Republicans as being the same as the Pat Robertson/Jerry Fallwell Christian Right... Not so! Besides the fact that I considered myself to be a Goldwater Republican and I despise the Christian right, I have to point out that Goldwater and the Christian Right had a strong dislike for each other. Goldwater once said "Pat Robertson can kiss my royal Christian ass!" He also favored ending bans on gays in the military, saying "I don't care if they are straight as long as they can shoot straight." Much of the Arizona Republican power structure wanted nothing to do with Goldwater; he was much too honest and outspoken for them. Okay, now I've finished.
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