View Mobile Site

Our tendency to vote against people

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED May 13, 2010 2:31 a.m.
When Barack Obama arrived at the Oval Office after being sworn in as president, he found that he had been left three gifts from his predecessor.

One bag was labeled “health care,” another “the economy,” and the third “the war.” Obama could have done nothing and watched as everything burned to the ground. But before he could attempt to enact any of his own agenda, he had to put the fires out that were left for him and in doing so keep from becoming soiled – and that hasn’t worked very well for him.

My political awareness began with the Richard Nixon-Hubert Humphrey election of 1968. And in nearly every major election since then – up to and including the wresting of Teddy Kennedy’s senate seat from the Democrats – the victor was not voted for. Rather, the loser was voted against. Or in the case of Kennedy’s seat, that was a vote cast against Obama.

Nixon’s win was a vote against Lyndon Johnson, and Johnson’s whipping boy was Humphrey. In the eight years before that election, Nixon had lost a presidential election as well as a run for the governor of California – but, sentiment was so against Johnson and the war in Vietnam that even someone as unelectable as Nixon was able to win.

After trouncing George McGovern by portraying him as the original “cut-and-run” guy, cut and run is exactly what happened and guess what – Southeast Asia did not topple to the evils of Communism.

Enter Watergate and Gerald Ford, and the backlash against Nixon through Ford was so great that a peanut farmer from Georgia managed to make his way into the White House. Couple hostages in Iran – that Carter was within a sandstorm of rescuing and being a hero – and an Arab oil embargo and backlash was so great that we went from a peanut farmer to a grade B movie actor!

After eight years of nirvana or disaster, depending on your outlook, George H. W. Bush was elected president, and his election was the only one where the winner was voted for, not the loser against. Despite spectacular success in the first Gulf War – maybe Bush should have hung a “Mission Accomplished” banner or two – public sentiment turned against him and Bill Clinton rode that wave of anti-Bush sentiment all the way to Washington.

And despite turning deficits into surpluses, Clinton’s dalliances – and a right-wing Supreme Court – made it impossible for Al Gore to win and we were subject to eight years of disaster or nirvana that turned surpluses into deficits which led to our last presidential election.

Poor John McCain. He never stood a chance. George W. Bush’s legacy – or lack thereof – doomed McCain from the start. (And you have to admit that his choice for running mate didn’t help him either.)

Let’s not forget the vote against Grey Davis that got California its current governor – that’s worked out real well, hasn’t it?

It’s not just elections where negativity reigns. The whole flap about gay marriage in California has absolutely nothing to do with protecting marriage. If it did, then divorce would be illegal or punishable by death. Rather, it is about those who consider homosexuality to be a deviant lifestyle and their ability to hide behind all they perceive to be good and right rather than just coming out and saying that they hate homosexuals.

With mid-term elections on the horizon, the pendulum appears ready to swing back the other way and swing back hard. That is a testament to the mindset of this country which seems to have forgotten all about who left those three burning bags and how nobody could have put those fires out and cleaned up the mess by now.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...