Now that Ronald Reagan has been nominated by the Republicans, Jimmy Carter has been nominated by the Democrats, and John Anderson has been nominated by John Anderson, political pundits are analyzing what happened and why it happened.
I do not understand most of what they say. Of the small portion I do understand, I disagree with about half.
Greatest attention appears to be centered on profound analyses of Ted Kennedy's losing campaign.
First the experts thought Kennedy would not run. Then they thought that if he did run he'd win easily. So he did run, but he did not win. Now the experts feel it is necessary to explain what Kennedy did wrong to cause their predictions to go sour.
It appears to me that Kennedy didn't do anything wrong. The political experts were the ones who goofed when they saw him as a sure winner.
Kennedy got the greatest possible mileage out of his assets. He had impact as a man with a genuine concern for the poor, the elderly, the sick and the disadvantaged. The image he projected was that of a fighter with bulldog tenacity, a man with a magic name and great personal charm, and a man who could deliver a speech with emotion and conviction.
Kennedy focused so much attention on these assets that little notice was taken of his potential liabilities. He was, after all, subject to criticism as the spoiled son of a rich family, a ladies' man, the sole survivor of an auto accident in Chappaquiddick, a man of such impatient ambitition that he was willing to lock horns with an incumbent president, and a man who had become a divisive influence as his vaunted tenacity began to border on fanaticism.
Most important of all, perhaps, Kennedy was dedicated to spending programs that might escalate inflation at a time when even labor leaders considered inflation a clear and present danger to the working man.
It seems to me that Kennedy campaigned with utmost vigor and intelligence, and as a result won all the potential votes that were available to an ultra-liberal candidate.
His problem was that there were not enough potential votes available to him because these are not happy times for ultra-liberal candidates. Inflation has nudged the average voter somewhat to the right -- away from avoidable spending, toward belt-tightening.
Despite all the "If he runs he'll win" hoopla, it seemed obvious to me from the start that Kennedy's chances were poor. Yes, he would have the support of liberals, but he would have it in a year in which liberal strength is not up to par. Too many tepid liberals have moved toward the middle of the road, and there just were not enough loyalists left to cope with the power of an incumbent president.
For the record, I suppose we ought to mention one political forecaster who didn't think Kennedy would win. But she didn't think Carter would win, either. I quote from Maxine Cheshire's VIP column of May 8, 1980: "Ruth Montgomery, the phychic journalist who discovered seeress Jeane Dixon and made her famous, has been telling lecture audiences around the country that the Democratic presidential candidate is not going to be Carter or Mondale or Ted Kennedy. Her spiritual guides, she says, claim that the 1980 election is going to be thrown into the House of Representatives and a 'Democrat who is fiscally irresponsible' will be elected."
Well, heck, if soothsaying is that easy, permit this psychic to predict that the next president will have the letters R, E and A in his name. He will not be fiscally irresponsible, but my spiritual guides tell me that cognac will go up another $3 a bottle anyhow. POSTSCRIPT
If you don't like any of this year's candidates, let me ask you this:
Did you take the time to participate in the political process during the past year? Did you go to the trouble of making your views known to party officials?
Unless you can give an affirmative answer, you can't complain that the candidates don't suit you.
The Ohio AFL-CIO has compliled voting statistics for that state. The numbers tell a dramatic story.
In 1876, 94.4 percent of eligible Ohioans voted. In 1896, 95.5 percent cast ballots. In 1916, only 76.5 percent went to the polls. In 1936, the Depression caused 71.8 percent of the eligible voters to turn out. But by 1956, the percentage was down to 66.4, and in the final 20-year interval, 56 percent voted in 1976. Nationally, our current percentage is 54.4.
In India, 60 percent of the people vote. In Canada, it's 75 percent; in France, 83; in West Germany, 90; in Italy, 91; in Austria, 92.
In 1976, fewer than 28 percent of our eligible voters elected Jimmy Carter. This year, 25 percent is expected to be enough for victory.