I have voted in every presidential election since 1952.
Of course, I am taking the liberty of counting my “straw votes” in public school presidential elections. A very talented elementary teacher turned me on to our great political system. She taught us about the candidates, the party system and the Electoral College.
Without her influencing our choice, we chose our candidate and began to campaign among our classmates. We were each given a campaign button to wear supporting our candidate. I chose the Republican candidate, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the “Vote for Ike” button. I knew that General Ike was a hero of the war that my daddy had fought in Europe. I also knew that General Ike was the mastermind behind the invasion of Europe. Little did I know that supporting a Republican would result in my grandfather’s and many others’ disapproval.
My grandfather told me about “old Republican Hoover,” Hoover peas and the Depression. It was Democratic president Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal that ended the Depression and the war. President Roosevelt had given jobs to the unemployed by creating the WPA. He had brought electricity to our impoverished region by establishing TVA.
How could I not vote for Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson and Sen. John J. Sparkman of Alabama? I remained undaunted and continued to campaign for Ike. It troubled me that people refused to vote for this great general simply because he was the nominee of the Republican Party.
Vindicated by history
By Election Day most of my classmates had learned that we were supposed to be Democrats. I was disappointed when Ike only received three votes in my class.
I was pleasantly surprised and felt vindicated when General Eisenhower was elected president. Ike had received 442 electoral votes to 89 for Gov. Stevenson. History has vindicated my vote even more. Though Eisenhower had been a great general, he had seen the horrors of war and he became a very good peacetime president during his two terms.
Since that time I have always enjoyed the privilege of voting. I have studied issues and political positions and remained independent in my voting patterns. I have voted for a number of Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. On the state and local level of government, I have voted for Independents, Green Party candidates, Libertarians, Republicans and Democrats. Both major political parties are too influenced by the mass amount of campaign money. In more pessimistic moments, I fear that we are bordering on fascism.
Taken for granted
It bothers me that the electoral votes in most states are taken for granted. There are only a few battleground states left to decide who will become our next president. Most of our states cast all of their electoral votes to the candidate receiving the majority of the popular vote. The science of today’s polling allows candidates to ignore states that they will either win or lose. No need for Bush or Kerry to come to Mississippi.
Colorado has an interesting proposition on their ballot this fall. This amendment would divide the electoral votes for president based on the percentage of votes received by the candidates in the general election. (We currently have a couple of states that divide electoral votes, but the division is based on congressional districts.)
Remember your civics class. Some of our forefathers wanted the President elected by popular vote. Others wanted Congress to elect the President. The establishment of the Electoral College was the compromise that solved a major problem at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
Candidates receiving the most popular vote have prevailed in most elections, but that is not always the case. Maybe it is time for all the states to follow Colorado’s lead. This is a great system, but wouldn’t it be exciting for Bush and Kerry to be campaigning in Mississippi trying to get a share of our six electoral votes?
Don’t forget to vote Tuesday. Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Human resources consultant Archie King, LPC, lives in Madison and writes frequently for the Mississippi Business Journal. E-mail him at