For what it’s worth, I thought I’d share my voting record for President ever since I was able to vote. Looking back, I see both a change in me and a change in the political climate. I remember how excited I was when the minimum voting age dropped from 21 to 18 shortly before the election of 1976, the year I turned 18. So, here is who I have voted for all these years, and as best as I can recall, the reasons why:
1976 – Jimmy Carter – I considered myself mostly a Democrat during the 70’s. It was hard not to be embarrassed about what happened to our country in the wake of the Nixon scandal and Ford’s immediate pardon of him after he assumed the position. Carter represented “change” by not being a Washington insider. And I remember how cool it was that he walked down Pennsylvania Ave after his inauguration.
1980 – Ronald Reagan – Like many, I was so disillusioned with Carter’s political ineptitude, and fatigued by runaway inflation, the energy crisis, the Iran hostage crisis, on and on. It was time for a different type of change. And furthermore, I returned to my Christian faith after a few years of rebellion, and “real” Christians were supposed to vote Republican, weren’t they?
1984 – Reagan – I can’t quite remember who ran against him that year. Was it Mondale? This was a case of “don’t fix what’s broken” and I still strongly identified myself as a bible-carrying conservative. Only in hindsight am I aware of the damaging policies Reagan put in place to allow corporations to eventually run roughshod over our political system.
1988 – George Bush – Back then, he was simply known as “George”, not “George H. W.” Again, this was a case of staying the course. Hey, the Iron Curtain has fallen. Who can argue against that? But I do remember the pit in my stomach when Operation Desert Shield commenced and our military started launching attack missiles upon Iraq.
1992 – George Bush, who lost, of course to Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton, of course, was evil because he was a Democrat, who were inherently evil because they were all Godless socialists.
1996 – I didn’t vote. I know: no excuse. I didn’t like Clinton but I also didn’t like Bob Dole, who to quote my mother, “was a prune”. I find that amusing since my mom has always been a staunch conservative, so much so that she belonged to the John Birch Society back in the sixties.
2000 – George W. Bush – I thought Gore was a buffoon and I still strongly identified myself with the “Christian Right”. Be that as it may, I was shocked about the outcome of the election, never witnessing before that quirk in presidential elections: an electoral vote at odds with the a popular vote. I felt that Bush stole the election and was both pleased and repulsed by it. (Hey, our guy won the battle. That’s all that counts right?)
Little did I know that “W.” had an agenda from day one to cook up any pretext for a war in Iraq. Like many, I was torn about the U.S. waging war against Iraq. I think it was great that our country never adopted a culture of despising our men and women in uniform like what happened during Vietnam. But history has clearly shown that where was no justification for the war in Iraq. Yes we deposed a bad guy. But there are a lot of bad dictators out there (many like Hussein who our government installed) who have terrorized their people and we haven’t gone after them.
2004 – John Kerry – After reading the last paragraph, it then comes as no surprise that I didn’t want to see W. get a second term. I had soured to the war on so many levels, not the least of which was the extent to which Bush thumbed his nose to the rest of the world community and decided to wage war without a coalition of support, something his father didn’t do. But frankly, I was changing too. I no longer identified myself as a card-carrying conservative. I started to see that there were other valid perspectives and started to be open to them.
2008 – Barack Obama – Something needed to change. And a young progressive like Barack represented that change. The primary reason I voted for Obama was his conciliatory attitude to the rest of the world. It was time for us to again join the world community, not play rogue cowboy.
And by this time, I could no longer identify with the Republican agenda, which has now for over two decades not truly represented the interests of its constituents, but rather a much smaller number of special interests promoting the agenda of big business. All attempts at enacting regulations against the abuses of corporate power have been thwarted by Republican-controlled congresses. And most regulatory agencies have been stripped of their power during Republican administrations. For example, how many people needed to die from hamburger tainted by E. Coli before before the remaining handful of meatpacking corporations were finally forced to actually test their meat? How many people have to have their life’s savings robbed by the capriciousness of investment banks, who due to deregulation, had merged with commercial banks and once again could gamble with other people’s money? How many people have to lose their jobs here in this country to have them replaced by offshore workers, which is real reason our unemployment rate remains high?
And I have been sickened by the Republican political agenda these last four years: Do anything to make sure Obama fails. Damn the country, just make sure Obama is a one-term president.
So you can probably guess who I voted for this year. My vote for Obama this time around is more a vote against Romney, who built upon his millions by orchestrating corporate buyouts and shipping jobs overseas. I don’t want to see our country return to the policies of the past that enabled the very rich to further consolidate their wealth at the expense of the poor and the middle class. That is not the way forward.
I wish I could have some hope for the next four years, even if Obama gets reelected. But unless the people who consider themselves Republicans actually take back their party by wresting control away from big business, I don’t expect the Republican politicians to give up their obstructionist tactics. Four more years of deadlock? I shudder at the thought.
Now that I have cast my vote, it’s time to pray.