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No guessing on state's presidential choice

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-The conventions are over, the candidates are nominated, and now the race for President is on.
For Alabamians it is a foregone conclusion what their role will be. Our nine electoral votes will go for President George Bush and the election in Alabama is not likely to be a nail-biter. His margin will probably be 15 percentage points or more. A landslide, if you please. Alabama's vote in presidential elections is intriguing. From the 1880s through the 1950s we went overwhelmingly Democratic in presidential elections.
The Republicans had been the party of Lincoln…he and his folks had whipped up on us in the War Between the States. Rather than vote for a Republican, we were wont to say, we would vote for a yellow dog.
But a strange thing happened in 1948. President Harry Truman, seeking re-nomination as a Democrat, urged the party to include a civil rights plank in the party platform. All heck broke loose.
Alabama delegates walked out, other Southern Democrats joined their cause, and it was the beginning of the end of the Democrats as the majority party in the Deep South. The rest is history….the Democrats grimly held on to Alabama in presidential elections through the 1950s…old habits are hard to break… but in 1964…the issue of race at its peak…conservative Republican Barry Goldwater swept Alabama.
Gov. George C. Wallace muddied up the waters in 1968 and carried Alabama as a third party candidate, but only once since has Alabama gone Democratic, We less than enthusiastically voted for next-door-neighbor Jimmy Carter in 1976, but four years later joined in sending him back to Plains.
What will happen nationally this November? I am certainly not qualified to even make a guess. About all I know is what I read in the newspapers and hear on the tube. And I take most of that with a grain or two of salt. In fact, I delight in watching the different spins put on the same story by the various network and cable news shows.
More often than not I wonder if those talking heads saw the same things. Some of them told me all last week that the Republicans didn't help their cause at all at their convention…others said the GOP gathering gave Bush enormous momentum.
What we could very easily have is a race about as close as four years ago when Democrat Al Gore actually polled more popular votes than Bush (51,003,894 to 50,459,211) but Bush won in the Electoral College. An ironic twist to that–the Democrats who howled about unfair that was would be the same Democrats who would howl in protest if an effort was made to constitutionally abolish the Electoral College.
The Electoral College system gives enormous advantage to bloc voting groups–blacks, women activists, gays, et al. In evenly divided states they often decide who gets all of the electoral votes.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the '04 campaign to me is the obvious hatred many Democrats have for President Bush. Did you read the signs carried by the protesters outside Madison Square Garden this past week…many of them were pure filth. Can't they just say "No More Bush" or "Vote for Kerry"? Why must the grossest of obscenities appear on their signs.
I can only assume this hatred is traced to what happened in Florida four years ago. They tell themselves that Bush stole the election in Florida and what they seem to forget is that after that debacle ended several major newsgathering groups went to that state and at considerable expense did statewide recounts. In every one of those recounts, Bush got the most votes.
Nobody ever mentions it, but Gore lost the election by failing to carry the state where people know him best–his home state of Tennessee. If he had carried Tennessee then it would have made no difference who won Florida. We would never have heard about hanging chads and perforated ballots.
But enough of that. Let's get on with the show and let's hope that the campaign will be waged on the issues…Iraq, terrorism, the economy…and not be hate-inspired.