Monday, December 27, 2004

Did the voters make the right choices?

My last post created a bit of controversy over my assertion that voters have always generally chosen the right man for the Presidency. I admit that this is a very subjective judgement and it's impossible for me to really prove it, as we can never know how someone who wasn't elected would have performed. So let me attempt to clarify.

I think that American voters, while ignorant about policy details, do understand the big picture. In 1992, Bill Clinton defeated George Bush and Ross Perot because the top concern among Americans at the time was the economy. They also were disgusted with politics as usual and wanted change. Clinton was a different kind of Democrat. Perot at first dominated the change vote, but then got way too flaky and dropped out. Then he got back in. Voters picked up on that and recognized that Perot was probably not stable enough for the job. That's something you could figure out without knowing where Perot stood on one issue. Clinton turned out to be a very successful President. He fell short on his goal of real change, but at the very least good times returned and the voters broke the Democrats' monopoly on Congressional power. And I think in both cases that was the right move. Clinton was the right man for the Presidency, and it was time for the Republicans to start reversing the excesses of Democratic tax and spend policies, with the help of a New Democrat.

In 1988, it was Bush vs. Dukakis. I don't know about you, but I'm glad Michael Dukakis wasn't President when Saddam invaded Kuwait. I'm glad that Dukakis wasn't President at a time when crime rates peaked in America. We needed firm toughness and we got it. Bush also put his extensive foreign policy experience to good use while the Communist bloc crumbled.

In 1984, Reagan vs. Mondale. Please. No contest. Mondale was an Old Democrat trying to bring back policies that were long past their shelf life. Reagan was as right for the 80s as Clinton was for the 90s. He had vision when America needed vision. He had optimism when America was downcast.

1980: Carter vs. Reagan. Do I even need to comment here? Carter was incompetent. He was done. He was tired. I don't even know why he was running.

1976: Carter vs. Ford. We needed Carter to restore trust. The American people needed to feel right about their government again. Although Carter failed in many ways, he was always viewed as honest and is still beloved as a person if not a President.

1972: McGovern vs. Nixon. Nixon may have been a bastard, and the people sensed he was a bastard, but McGovern was so weak he was unacceptable.

I was born in 1974, so I won't try to go back much further. Just suffice to say that from 1945 to 1968, the choices were mostly clear and Americans have few regrets about men like Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Truman. LBJ was weak, but Goldwater was too extreme for the times.

Now of course there can be a lot of argument with this post, and I'd like to see and participate in discussion about it. But keep in mind it's only an opinion and I'm not going to defend it to death like I would say, the 1st amendment.

I have faith in democracy and faith in the American voter especially. I've never felt let down after an election.