Rarely have I voted for a presidential candidate that I fully supported.
I have always been a conservative, although I admittedly had some moderate views in my early twenties (before I started my first business).
The first presidential election I voted in was in 1972 when President Richard Nixon, a Republican, ran against Sen. George McGovern.
At the tail end of the sexual revolution/anti-war movement of the 1960s, McGovern was a genuine liberal who said he wanted to grow government and raise taxes.
Nixon had a dark personality. He did end the War in Vietnam (though we lost) and he promised to open up Communist China to our markets.
Nixon won with 520 electoral votes to 17. McGovern won one state – Massachusetts – and Washington, D.C. At the time, it was the fourth largest margin of victory in U.S. history.
Nixon resigned because of Watergate. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew had left and House Speaker Gerald Ford became president (after being named vice president to Nixon).
Ford, a Republican, faced Jimmy Carter, a Democrat who had been governor of Georgia. Carter was outspoken about his Baptist faith and he won by 297-240 electoral votes (Ford won Oklahoma).
I was raised a Democrat and I foolishly voted for Carter, thinking that his Christianity would trump his liberal policies. It didn’t.
In 1980, Carter was challenged by former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, a former movie star who switched from being a union-loving Democrat to a conservative Republican.
Carter was so weak in foreign policy and economics that Reagan won in a landslide, winning 45 states – including California and New York. Reagan got 489 electoral votes to Carter’s 49 – a drop of 248 votes.
It was a stunning turnaround.
In 1984, Carter’s former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Democrat, ran against Reagan. I knew that Mondale was going to lose when he said in his acceptance speech at the Democrat National Convention that he was going to raise taxes.
Even that crowd went hush.
Mondale managed to win his home state of Minnesota (and Washington, D.C.) but Reagan won 49. Reagan increased his electoral vote margin to 525 as Mondale picked up 13 votes.
Reagan had a simple message – lower taxes and smaller government. He carried Oklahoma twice.
Reagan’s vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush, was the Republican nominee in 1988, with Sen. Dan Quayle as his running mate.
Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, an extremely liberal Democrat, tried to show that he was tough on national defense but voters laughed when he drove a tank while wearing a helmet.
Bush, who was a moderate, won 41 states and had a 426-111 margin in the Electoral College. Oklahoma went for Bush, who made the famous pledge – “Read my lips – no new taxes” – at the GOP Convention.
Bush later compromised with the Democrat-controlled Congress and agreed to tax increases to accompany spending cuts. The tax hikes went into effect but not the cuts.
Bush became the first incumbent vice president of the United States to win a presidential election in 152 years, since Martin Van Buren in 1836.
Then in 1992, former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, a Southern Democrat, ran against Bush and won. An Independent, Texas businessman Ross Perot, drew enough votes from Bush to give Clinton the win even though Clinton didn’t get 50 percent of the vote.
Oklahoma voted for Bush again, even though Clinton was from adjoining Arkansas.
In 1996, it was Sen. Bob Dole’s turn to be the GOP nominee. Perot ran again and Clinton won a second term with a 379-159 electoral margin. Dole won 18 states, including Oklahoma.
In 2000, Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, D-Tennessee, ran against Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the son of George H.W. Bush.
This controversial election ended with Bush getting 50,456,062 votes while Gore got 50,996,582. Gore apparently won the popular vote but Bush won the electoral count, 271-266.
Gore won 19 states and Washington, D.C. but lost in his home state of Tennessee. A win in Tennessee would have given him the presidency. Bush won a hotly contested Florida race and that was the difference.
In that race, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader got 2,882,728 but no electoral votes.
In 2004, Bush, who rallied the nation after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, ran against Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat.
This time, Bush got more of the popular vote, outpolling Kerry 62-039,073 to 59,027,478 and winning the electoral vote 286-251.
Bush won 32 states, including Oklahoma for a second time.
In 2008, Republicans nominated Sen. John McCain, a moderate from Arizona, and the Democrats ran Barack Hussein Obama, a liberal community organizer/senator from Chicago.
Obama became the first black to win the presidency, even though his claim to have been born in Hawaii faced serious challenges (and still does today).
Every county in Oklahoma voted for McCain despite his liberal voting record.
In 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the GOP nod and squared off against Obama. Obama got 65,446,032 to 60,589,084 for Romney. Millions of Republicans simply didn’t go to the polls to vote for Romney, the first Mormon nominee.
Earlier this week, the Democrats put up Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the wife of Bill Clinton, and the Republicans have put up businessman Donald J. Trump, an outsider who has never held public office.
Like me, few liked the choice we were given. Now we get to live with the consequences.