Lots of presidents from small towns

Published 12:00am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unfortunately, my column had to go to press before the outcome of Tuesday’s election was known. I will discuss the election results next week. In the meantime, I would like to share with you a story about the presidency.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a column many of you enjoyed about the success of small town boys in Alabama politics. It concluded with the fact that since 1946 Alabama has had 14 small town governors and only two city governors. Well, I can do better than that for presidents.

America has elected small town boys to the presidency overwhelmingly since 1948. A cursory look at the presidents over the past 60 years reveals that the majority of our U.S. presidents were small town boys. Harry Truman was from Independence, Mo. Dwight Eisenhower was from a small town in Kansas. Lyndon Johnson was from a small town in East Texas. Richard Nixon was from a small town in California. Jimmy Carter was from the small hamlet of Plains, Ga. Ronald Reagan was from a small town in Illinois. George Bush Sr. was from a small place in Connecticut and his son, George W. Bush, calls Crawford, Texas home. Bill Clinton was from the small town of Hope, Ark. Only John F. Kennedy was from a big city. Boston was his home. That is nine small town presidents and one from the city. If you include in the count those who were elected two times it is 14 to 1.

Barack Obama’s place of origin is not easy to determine. However, it appears that he is from a sparsely populated place in Hawaii. In that case, it is 15 to 1 small town boys. Mitt Romney is just as difficult. Is he from Detroit or the suburbs of the Motor City? If you give him to the suburbs, he is also small town.

In closing, allow me one final salvo at our antiquated system of selecting our president. The Electoral College System is archaic, undemocratic and un-American. It is a travesty that, in what is supposed to be the greatest democracy in the world, we do not elect our president in an election process where the candidate who receives the most votes from every voter in all corners of our nation is elected president. Instead, the Electoral College System allocates all of a state’s votes to the candidate who receives only one more vote than the other candidate in that particular state.

This process has created a system whereby the presidential campaigns spend all of their time and money in only about 10 states. The voters in these battleground states are the only actual participants in the election process. These swing states are demographically and philosophically equally divided between Republican, Democratic and Independent voters. Therefore, how they will vote is in question.

These battleground states, which get all the attention of the candidates and all the campaign expenditures, are Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire. In this year’s presidential election virtually no money was spent in 40 states. The swing states saw all of the action and dollars.

Unfortunately, we are one of the 40 forgotten states. It is a foregone conclusion that we and our sister Southern states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina are going to vote for the Republican candidate for president. Alabama and the Deep South are the most reliably safe bastion for the GOP in the presidential contest. Therefore, we do not get any candidate attention.

Because we in the South have become such a red Republican region we no longer have the allure of placing a Southerner on the ticket. Our potential candidates bring nothing to the table, so to speak, because we are going to vote Republican regardless. This is new for a region that has fairly recently produced Presidents George W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson of Texas, Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Jimmy Carter of Georgia.

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