I’ve been paying close attention to elections since Nixon vs McGovern in ’72 and although I’ll admit to not voting in that one, I haven’t missed one since. I was a freshman in college out of my home state and waited too late to get an absentee ballot and mail it in. But that was the first and only time I didn’t make it to the polls.
There have been some important and memorable contests in the 43 years and ten elections which have come and gone since then. I was in Navy AOCS in Pensacola back in ’76 when Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford squared off. Voted for Mr. Ford in that one. Both had solid careers in the Navy, but I’m thinking that few in my class went with Mr. Carter.
Being the flaming, tree-hugging liberal that I am today, I hate to admit this, but I did volunteer work in both Reagan campaigns and voted for him. Twice. Loved pretty much everyone on King Ronnie’s team back then, Col. Oliver North especially. Suffice to say that I saw the world very, very differently back then.
The 1980 contest was not noteworthy only because Reagan won; it saw John B. Anderson run the first third-party candidacy the American people has seen since George Wallace that had to be taken seriously. Well, semi-seriously. Okay, I noticed it, because he appeared in Tulsa, where I was living at the time, and I happened to catch it. Didn’t change my vote, but he made an impression.
By the time Reagan’s second term was winding down, my views on politics had changed considerably. I did not vote for “George Bush the Elder” in 1988, though I generally respected him. Of course, Dan Quayle was pretty hard to take. Yes, before Sarah Palin was let loose on the world, there was V.P. Dan Quayle! Boy, that was quite a spectacle back then, wasn’t it? Some of the drama we’ve seen in recent elections is not so different. But I digress.
If you’ve gotten this far into this piece, I will not bore you with my recollections of all the other elections that have taken place in the last quarter-century. But I will say that 2000 was a big one, of course, and that I still carry in my heart a white-hot hatred for both Ralph Nader and Antonin Scalia for the roles they played in making George W. Bush our 43rd President. Pundits and politically-savvy people went on and on about how Nader’s candidacy would suck votes away from Gore and it did. Some maintain to this day that Gore’s shortcomings are the real reason he lost, but I look at the 97,488 votes Nader got in the Sunshine State and cry “bullshit!” And, as we all remember, Bush carried Florida by 537 votes. For a good treatment of that debacle click here.
As for the role played by Mr. Scalia and the four other justices who joined in his twisted, partisan logic in Bush v. Gore, that would be fodder for another post. On another day. Wait, let me get an Advil. Or three.
True to my word, I am not going to go into the four intervening contests in this post, so let’s bring back the focus to 2016. A whole lot of people who pay attention to Presidential elections are beginning to say that this year’s contest is starting to look a bit like 2000. I am one of those people. Even though we’re still not “there” yet as far as having two official nominees, it’s going to be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I’d bet that somewhere around 92% of the political prognosticators would say so. And I’ll be damned if the candidacy of Bernie Sanders isn’t starting to loom Nader-esque on the American landscape. I think there’s a damn good chance that Bernie could do to Hillary what Ralph did to Al. I hope to God I’m wrong about that. But it’s a possibility that can’t be easily dismissed. May the soul of Yogi Berra rest peacefully; I damn sure hope it ain’t “deja vu” all over again!
Barking from my semi-palatial doghouse in Orlando, I am,
“Bulldog Ben” Basile
© 2016 Benjamin Lawrence Basile
Ben is not the owner of this photo. Contact him if you are.