For better or worse, the Democratic Party has done it again. Are we resurrecting “President” Dukakis or President Kennedy? Senator Edwards has dropped out of the Presidential race and John F. Kerry is the presumptive Democrat nominee. Sen. Kerry is a successful politician and a great American. He would make an excellent President of the United States, but can he win? Electorally, what does he offer as a candidate? Massachusetts would vote for any Democrat. (Remember when Massachusetts was the only state to stem a Nixon sweep in 1972?) Senator Edwards on the other hand would have offered the Democrats the chance to alter the Electoral Map: make North Carolina a “blue” state instead of a “red” state and swing 15 Electoral votes into the Democratic column. That would give the Democrat 275 to Bush’s 263. That would give the Democrats victory. Can a Democrat from the Northeast be elected? Sure, it’s been done before…. 44 years ago!
President Kennedy was the last Northern Democrat to be elected and, of course, he slipped in with a 119,450 vote difference. Why? Because we are living in times of party de-alignment and neo-sectionalism. In order to win the Presidency, the Democrats must run a candidate from an area Republican strength and/or sweep the Midwest and Florida (Carter/1976, Clinton/1992, Clinton/1996).
Similarly, it has also been 44 years since a sitting legislator was elected President. Since JFK, we have had four governors (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, G.W. Bush), two Vice-Presidents (Nixon and G.H.W. Bush) and four incumbents, (Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton) elected President of the United States. Not one single legislator has been elected President in nearly a half-century. Why? Because legislators leave legislative paper trails; it is too easy to attack legislators voting record. Although President Kennedy was a legislator with six years in the U.S. House and eight years in the U.S. Senate, he spent a significant amount of time in the hospital. Furthermore, the Kennedy election was arguably the last of the old-style political machinery elections. And even Kennedy barely won…one of the four closest elections of all time (1824,1876,1960,2000).
John Kerry has been a legislator for 18 years, but there are no corpses from Cook County Illinois to vote for him; John Kerry does not have a Boss Tweed or a Tammany Hall to carry his campaign; and John Kerry does not have the South voting for him.
I hope I am wrong. I pray I am wrong. In November, I will vote for John F. Kerry to be the next President of the United States. He will make an excellent President and I wish him the best, but what color will North Carolina be: red or blue?