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Most Important Election in Your Lifetime


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#1 Slashman

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Posted 06 June 2015 - 10:31 PM

I am a major election buff (would love to be a Tim Russert type guy on TV somehwere,) and I love to do #'s and all that. My first election where I could vote was 2012 and it wasn't the most exciting in the world.

 

But in all your days, which election year would you say was both your favorite and most important in your time?



#2 Jim West

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Posted 07 June 2015 - 08:37 PM

My first memory of an election was back in November 1976 when I was in Kindergarten.  The election was between two fine men, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.  Neither will be identified as a great President, but both were able and good men.  America was trying to forget about Watergate and Vietnam and were looking for a Washington outsider.  Carter wins a very close one, but I don't think Carter and Ford were politically that much different except that Carter was much more of a micro manager while Ford was more about looking at the big picture.  Both were moderates....at least at the time they were considered moderates.

 

1980 was a year of change:  the economy was deep in Stagflation, with high unemployment, high inflation, and high interest rates.  I won't blame Carter for all of this, but he had one of the worst cabinets in modern day history.  Reagan comes in, surrounds himself with a strong cabinet, and rights the ship.

 

1984...yawn.  Listening to Fritz Mondale was like watching paint dry.  This election had no meaning whatsover to me.

 

1988:  The Reagan revolution still had not played its final tune.  Dukakis had limited appeal while Bush was probably more moderate than Reagan, more gentle.  Another landslide.

 

1992:  My first election whereby I could vote.  We had three good candidates:  Ross Perot, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.  This was a very meaningful election with electing the first Baby Boomer as President.  Bill Clinton seemed to relate and identify with the people much more than George H. W. Bush and H. Ross Perot.  

 

1996:  Bob Dole!  Dole was old, Clinton was young.  Both were bright individuals, but Clinton had charisma while Dole did not.  A strong economy pushed Clinton over.

 

2000:  Gore v. Bush.  Both candidates campaigned over what to do with the surpluses as opposed to having to argue about reducing the deficit.  Looking back, this was a very important election.  I was fairly lukewarm towards both candidates, but Gore wins the popular vote, Bush wins the electoral vote and the election.  

 

2004:  John Kerry was a weak candidate.  He came off distant and aloof...and still came close to winning the election.  We really started seeing much more rhetoric and spinning in this election than ever before.

 

2008:  This was a very important election.  Very few had any idea that we would see such a deep, global recession.  The swing voters went with the younger guy, Barack Obama.  

 

2012:  The economy was still not in good shape.  However, the Republicans ended up consolidating around a candidate, Mitt Romney, with very little charisma.  Most of the Republican pundits admitted that Romney could not win the election without some major help.  President Obama's operation was a fundraising machine, and the get out the vote pulled him to a sizable electoral college victory.

 

Looking back, probably the best elections in my lifetime was 1976, 1980, and 1992.  Carter will go down as a very mediocre President while Reagan and Clinton will both be considered a better than average President.

 

Some will say "George W. Bush is the worst President" or "Barack Obama is the worst President".  I absolutely laugh.  Between Andrew Jackson (#7 President) and Abraham Lincoln (#16 President), only one president (Polk) was any good.  The rest were a laughingstock.  I'd rank John Quincy Adams, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan much worse than any modern day President.  Other bad Presidents would be Howard Taft (horrible President, great Supreme Court Justice), Warren Harding (totally inept), Grover Cleveland (no idea about finances), and Benjamin Harrison (same as Cleveland).  

 

Our country has become way too polarized.  We tend to think in terms of Democrats and Republicans when we really should be thinking in terms of Americans.

 

My favorite Presidents of all time are Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Thomas Jefferson, and JFK.  All had their weaknesses, but all were tremendous leaders.



#3 Fred Galey

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 07:01 AM

In our lifetimes to date Jim(yes, mine longer than yours), we have also seen the media become more of a player and less of a reporter in elections. There have been a few real hatchet jobs in the past 20-25 years. We have all seen the late night talk show hosts/comedians become players.

As Jim & I have discussed, I was in the room for a lot of the 2000 recounts in Florida. It was interesting to say the least.

I think history does and always will judge JFK & his time in office in a much more positive light than his actual Presidency deserves.

I think both Carter & GW Bush will be judged more harshly than they deserve due to major events. Truth be told, they were dealt pretty rough hands.

I totally agree with Jim's analysis of the time from Jackson to Lincoln as well as some others that were bad.

Clinton was better than I ever thought he would be on many fronts but lacked a bit in the character department to put it mildly.

Reagan has been hands down the best of my lifetime. I don't think it's even close. He wasn't perfect by any means but his positives far outweighed the negatives both in policy & character.

#4 Fred Galey

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 08:28 AM

Back to your original questions tho-- the most interesting had to be 2000 since it went on for awhile after Election Day. The most important to me is always the next one since we can't do anything about past elections.

#5 Jim West

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 09:34 AM

Fred brought up a very interesting point regarding both Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, and both have parallels towards Harry Truman.  When Truman left the White House, his approval rating was around 30%.  Popular opinion at the time was that he handcuffed the military with his actions in Korea.  Many also blamed him for the Communist regimes that were taking over the countries in Eastern Europe.  However, Truman was also handcuffed with the fact that the United States had little appetite to fight a long, drawn out war after World War II.  Hindsight being 20/20, historians have credited Truman with his decision to drop the atomic bomb, effectively ending World War II earlier and sparing many lives in the process.  His policy of containment was continued by future US administrations.  Right now, Truman is considered in the top 10 of best Presidents of all time.

 

Jimmy Carter has been given much more favorable light in the last decade or so, much of which is due to the fact that Carter has become probably the best ex-President in history.  Truthfully, Carter inherited a mess that was partially due to the Federal Reserve policies from years past.  The Feds are supposed to be independent of any control from the White House, but that's bogus to say the least.  The Nixon administration had its hands involved in controlling the Federal Funds rate more than any other administration before or after.  Some point fingers about Watergate, but Watergate was nothing compared to what happened with the Federal Reserve.  We ended up seeing inflation soar and unemployment rise.  Paul Volcker knew that the only way to dismantle double digit inflation was to raise the interest rates (the Prime rate hit 21.5% in 1981).  As a result, we had a bad recession, maybe not as bad as the last one we had, but it was a deep recession.  By 1984, our economy was booming again.  I give Volcker much of the credit for the recovery and the good times we enjoyed in the mid to late 80's.

 

George W. Bush will be known for two things:  the war on terrorism and his desire to lower taxes.  The war on terrorism is a tricky deal because you are dealing with terrorists that have no reasoning skills whatsoever.  I give Bush a lot of credit for refusing to reason with the terrorists, but instead go after them tooth and nail.  Bush also lowered taxes at the same time while we were fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq, which would later result in larger deficits.  By the 2008-2009 fiscal year, our country's annual deficit was around 1.4 trillion dollars.  History will decide in the next few decades on who is to blame for the "Great Recession", but until then George W. Bush's grade among historians will be incomplete.  

 

As far as character goes, Bill Clinton will be remembered for his numerous infidelities.  Bill Clinton's addiction was for women, no ifs, no ands, and no buts.  However, that addiction is not any different than Thomas Jefferson, FDR, Eisenhower (his addiction was with his Jeep driver in WWII), JFK, and others.  Even George H.W. Bush was rumored to have a long lasting affair.  The difference with Bill Clinton was the timing of his Presidency...the 24/7 news media.  JFK was just as bad as Clinton, but the mainstream media looked away.  Bill Clinton is usually ranked by modern-day historians in the 11th-15th range of best Presidents ever, which I tend to agree.  Had he not had been sidelined by his personal failures, he might be ranked in the 6th to 10th range along with Ronald Reagan.



#6 Fred Galey

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 12:03 PM

Another thing I also think about with President's & their policies, some are strong with domestic policy & some are very good with foreign policy. It seems rare to be strong on both fronts. Thankfully, it is also rare to be weak on both.
Today's 24/7 news world also makes elections far more about charisma than substance. The ability to articulate & present yourself well and also get the great sound clip is far more important than substantive policy or platform. This is unfortunate. It's more about who we like than who would do a good job. Also, without financial backing, campaigns are DOA.

#7 Slashman

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 03:05 PM

Another thing I also think about with President's & their policies, some are strong with domestic policy & some are very good with foreign policy. It seems rare to be strong on both fronts. Thankfully, it is also rare to be weak on both.
Today's 24/7 news world also makes elections far more about charisma than substance. The ability to articulate & present yourself well and also get the great sound clip is far more important than substantive policy or platform. This is unfortunate. It's more about who we like than who would do a good job. Also, without financial backing, campaigns are DOA.

 

That reminds me of something my great grandmother used to say. Granted she was an old school country woman but she nailed it to the point: 
 

"When a Republican is elected you don't have to worry about anyone bothering or bombing us, but expect times around here to be bad. When a Democrat is elected expect time around here to be better but he won't be strong against our enemies."

 

That has been true since I been here anyways give or take Clinton. He was strong in foreign policy in a lot of places but he made mistakes (ie Bin laden.) 



#8 Chris Hughes

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 03:14 PM

I know it's unpopular to say, but I say once everything is said and done, George W. Bush should be commended for the job he did and should be viewed much more positive for his work than negative way he was when he left office.  Already 7 years after the fact, his approval ratings are as high as they ever were.  That's what distance from the Oval Office can do for you.

 

This is a huge election coming up.  I'm all for a woman president, and I'm not against a black man as president either, but Hillary isn't the right choice for us as a nation.  



#9 Jim West

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 03:58 PM

 

That has been true since I been here anyways give or take Clinton. He was strong in foreign policy in a lot of places but he made mistakes (ie Bin laden.) 

 

You can trace missteps with bin Laden all the way back to the Jimmy Carter administration.  With Operation Cyclone, the CIA funneled supplies and weapons to resistance forces in the Afghanistan-Soviet Union war.  Some of our "allies" were also in cahoots with bin Laden, and he was empowered by Gulbudden Hekmatyar, an Afghan resistance leader.  At the time our focus was on repelling the Soviet invaders.  Operation Cyclone was carried throughout the 1980's, and during this time bin Laden became idolized by many of the Arab radicals.  The movie "Charlie Wilson's War" dealt mostly with the politics behind this operation.



#10 Slashman

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 05:32 PM

True. I remember in the 80's it was chic to have the rebels of Afghanistan as heros in movies. Rambo 3 and the Living Daylights made them look pretty. Rambo 3 actually called them freedom fighters and brave hearts they of course edited that out since.

 

I agree I love Dubya. I would love to meet him one day and tell him what a privlage it was to have him as our President in those rough days. He made his mistakes sure (Iraq, Katrina, Cheney as VP,) but he did a lot to help us when we needed it. He made sure we were safe from attacks again, he gave us those rebate checks (like my mom said "No one else sure cared enough to give us a check. It took an act of congress but I know he was the cause of it",)  and he just truely cared about things. He loved the soilders and did his best to support them and he took the brunt of the frustrations from the famlies like a man. 
 
Obama's biggest problem is to me he seems distant from stuff. Sure he tries to act like he is the center of everything but he doesn't seem as caring about the military as Bush was. Biden is but I don't think Obama is. Plus ever noticed he's never gave an oval office speech? That's always bothered me. I'm not saying he's not a decent guy I think he is to a point but he's not as enthusiastic in some regards that he should be.


#11 Slashman

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 05:36 PM

As for elections in my lifetime I have only been here for 5 of them: 96, 00, 04,  08, and 12. 
 
96 I remember very little about because I was only 3 then. I remember nothing about 
the state and senate races but rememeber somewhat about the President race. I seen 
the Simpsons halloween special and they did the skit about the aliens kidnapping 
and cloning Dole and Clinton. One of their better bits and it just stood out. I 
remember asking my folks who they were and that was the first time I recollect that I knew who the President was.
 
2000 I remember a little more but I mostly didn't watch the news. I did watch  election night on channel 12 with Brokaw and Russert and remember seeing the computer map lighting up and Tim's whiteboard. I was 7 then. I remember pulling for  Dubya due to my folks supporting him. My dad didn't like Gore due to his wimpyness.
 
2004 was the first race I kept track with. I remember being worried that Kerry would win due to picking Edwards but my folks were like "He won't win, don't worry about it." Kerry was terrible. He was bland, boring, preppy, and aloof. He was the second coming of Michael Dukakis but about as worse. We always called him Herman Munster because he was a dead ringer for him. I knew Bush would win but we were all suprised on how close it was. A lot of that's due to the liberals and the Dems starting their machine up which owned in 08. This was also the start of the Reps's 
machine not handling their base well.
 
As for the senate race I liked Burr and found Bowles as wimpy as Gore was. House I liked Harrell over Foxx, and Governor I supported Easley. We voted at my middle school and I voted for all of them. Bush and Burr won but Ballentine beat Easly and Foxx won. I just didn't like her that year for some reason.
 
 
2008 was when I truely got the politcal bug and have been an addict ever since. It started after Russert died, I like to think I got a trace of his spirit in me somewhere ;)  I really got into it around August and when I tore my knee up and my season ended I focused equally on Football and politics. I wasn't crazy aout obama so I supported McCain. I supported Republican all around.
In hindsight I still would have voted for McCain and McCrory but I would have went with Hagan and Carter for the house. Especially since I knew he was North Surry's coach for a year, I didn't then.
 
2012 was the first time I voted. I ended up going with Obama as I felt he was doing alright and a vote for Romney would be a major regression. Romney felt too cliche of a canidate for me. He was everything a coinservative republican wants but he just wansn't right for it. He wasn't that sucessful as a Governor either. Plus I just got that bad vibe and that matters to me.Governor wise I voted for McCrory, House for Coble. 
 
 
I guess I'd say 2008 was the most important of my lifetime due to what we had on the line. 2000 was epic due to the mess.


#12 Jim West

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 06:03 PM

My father worked for Jim Hunt and Mike Easley.  With Hunt, he was a very hardworking guy, and he's probably the best overall governor we've had in our state.  However, his downfall was that he loaded up governmental offices with his cronies.  Case in fact:  Norris Tolson.  Tolson was the Secretary of Transportation for a few years, and he never did anything that impressed me.  He made the mistake of jumping on my Dad in the newspapers when he didn't even talk to my father or get his facts straight.  Tolson pretty much represented everything I hate about the good ole boy network.



#13 Slashman

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 09:19 PM

Dang. Hunt was a good guy he could have been a decent senator. He ran against Helms in the wrong year 84 was Reagan's tide year. 1990 or so he could have won. Trivia: he was the 4th longest serving Governor since Reconstruction nationwide.

 

Closest I come to seeing Easily was his office on a tour in 2006, he seemed like a good guy I guess. 






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