In the wacky world of politics, we vote for a candidate based on a wide variety of reasons. Some people - though I'll never understand their reasoning - vote for the party and ignore the differences they may have with the candidate. But most of us I believe vote for the individual who best represents our views and opinions on topics of importance. And then there's the "character" vote where you make your mark beside the candidate who you truly believe is the better person, regardless of their positions on the hot topics of the day.
Increasingly and particularly in this presidential election, a massive percentage of the population will vote against a candidate. The example is obvious. Millions of voters will side with John Kerry or to a lesser extent Ralph Nader because they simply abhor George W. Bush. Perhaps I have been naive in the past but I don't recall such a groundswell of negative voting in history.
And I'll confess I don't fully understand these voters. Most Democrats if they are truthful will concede that John Kerry is less than an ideal candidate. He clearly misrepresents the truth to suit his audience and his positions on dozens of topics don't reflect the majority view in this country. His service in Viet Nam was both admirable and questionable. His personal life is far from the American ideal. The list is endless. Yet.....
New polls out show that John Kerry is gaining momentum not for his positions but because of this growing dislike of George Bush. It's a classic case of the lesser of two evils, according to those who support Kerry.
But then it struck me. We have a perfect example of this very same political phenomenon right here in Missouri. None other than the Honorable Bob Holden. And I am personally just as guilty as the Bush bashers when it came to voting against someone more so than voting for someone.
Bob Holden was defeated in his own party's primary, I believe, not because of the overwhelming strength of Claire McCaskill but because of the strong opposition to another Holden term. And that is exactly what is happening on the national political scene.
I have spent weeks bemoaning those who are voting against George Bush as opposed to those who truly believe in the policies of John Kerry. And given my opposition to Bob Holden, I confess I now understand their reasoning. Of course I have to admit the two examples are far from comparable. But that's my political leaning and it most certainly may not be yours.
I still hope and even pray that George Bush is re-elected. But no longer will I curse the darkness over those who are voting against Bush because they simply don't like him. I did the same thing earlier this month in an election that meant much less to this country. It just took me a little while to understand this lesson in politics.
So Mr. President, heed this advice for what it's worth. Call it the Holden Syndrome. Quit talking about John Kerry and start talking about George Bush. The voters aren't concerned with the ultra-liberal nature of Kerry, they are concerned that they might just not like you very much. Spend the remaining campaign time on convincing voters that you are not what they think. Otherwise, you'll retire to Texas while the nation crumbles under an alternative that we cannot afford.