Tag Archives: Election

Presidents on the Move

2016 will bring a new President, and thus, new Presidential rankings….

History is constantly evolving and changing…. so is this list.

Can't we all just get along?

Can’t we all just get along?

George W. Bush ^  :  Loathed by modern “progressives,”  any historian worth his/her salt should have suggested patience. Presidents must not be judged immediately following their terms, nor soon after elections.  Many of Bush’s policies are now being viewed as successful- see the Surge, and TARP.  Despite the vitriol still spewed by his critics, W’s historical stock is rising.

Civil Rights Rube...

Civil Rights Rube…

LBJ  v :  Recent release of Oval Office recordings revealed Lyndon Johnson at his worstModern depictions of him in films like “Selma” have also cast doubt on his civil rights legacy.  No other President has experienced this sort of roller coaster ranking,  and this year appears to be a straight drop for “Landslide Lyndon.”

Ike

Dwight Eisenhower ^ :  Soon to be memorialized on the National Mall, Ike is liked once again.  Historians are beginning to appreciate his cool demeanor and bipartisan political record The current Republican party should do some soul searching when viewing its current obsession with ideological purity.

Professor know-it-all

Professor know-it-all

Woodrow Wilson v :   The recent uproar at Princeton over the racist legacy of its most famous history professor has everyone reconsidering our view of the Progressive champion.  Proper scrutiny is now being leveled against Wilson’s policies- many of them created as a result of his distrust of the Constitution and disregard for the Declaration of Independence.

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On Experimentation

Friends and rivals

Friends and rivals

The American experience has always been built on experimentation… Our very existence doubted by most of the world, the optimism of Thomas Jefferson became essential to the survival of our republican experiment.

 

As the election of 1796 loomed… the friendship between Jefferson and John Adams waned.  Jefferson reminded his friend of their experiment:

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“I am aware of the objection to this, that the office becoming more important may bring on serious discord in elections. In our country I think it will be long first; not within our day; and we may safely trust to the wisdom of our successors the remedies of the evil to arise in theirs. Both experiments however are now fairly committed, and the result will be seen. Never was a finer canvas presented to work on than our countrymen…. This I hope will be the age of experiments in government, and that their basis will be founded on principles of honesty, not of mere force….If ever the morals of a people could be made the basis of their own government, it is our case.”   Jefferson to Adams, February 28 1796

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Weekly History News Roundup

Congress calls for Women’s History Museum…  new site to be chosen along National Mall

 

Capitol dome restoration completedProject cost nearly $60 million

 

University of Virginia President not allowed to quote its Founder… hubris on display in Charlottesville as modern academics think they know better.

 

Historians prepare to assess Obama legacy… not a difficult task considering he was already labeled “smartest ever to hold the office.” 

 

Brooklyn Historical Society preserves artifactsletters, photographs, and diaries mark Brooklyn’s history in the war.

 

If you can't quote Jefferson...

If you can’t quote Jefferson…

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A Most Dangerous Man

We have never elected someone as dangerous as Donald Trump? … Thomas Jefferson commenting on the candidacy of Andrew Jackson in 1824.  Sound familiar?

He is dangerous

He is dangerous

“I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President.  He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place.  He has had very little respect for laws and constitutions, and is, in fact, an able military chief.  His passions are terrible.  When I was President of the Senate, he was Senator; and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings.  I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage.  His passions are, no doubt, cooler now; he has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dangerous man.”   Thomas Jefferson

 

He is ignorant, passionate, hypocritical, corrupt and easily swayed by the basest men who surround him
Henry Clay

 

 

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If it ain’t Broke…

Liberals hated George W. Bush and never… accepted his election victories.  When charges of wrong-doing went unsubstantiated, Liberal leaders decided to blame the system itself.  Harkening to the late 1970’s and Indiana Senator Birch Bayh’s radical electoral tinkering, Bush opponents blamed the Electoral College.  Now Donald Trump is attempting to cast doubts upon our electoral process.  Petty politics and unbridled vanity caused this misguided interest group to second guess the likes of Hamilton and Madison.  The Electoral College prevents our voices from being heard…….BALDERDASH !

Did you really want this guy to win?

 

Madison and Hamilton created the Electoral College for specific reasons… and suppressing minority voters was not one of them.  Plurality is part of the Federal electoral process, but integrated to meet the needs of federalism.  Madison said,  “The executive power will be derived from a very compound source.  The immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters.  The votes allotted to them are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and coequal societies, partly as unequal members of the same society.” – Federalist #39

Should we forget John Jay?

Hamilton saw the dangers in misguided passions leading the electorate astray,  “The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place” – Federalist #68

 

Think of the electoral vote this way…  In the 1960 World Series, the New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 55-27  and out-hit the hapless Pirates 91-60.  Using the rationale of plurality as demanded by the national popular vote crowd, the Yankees were clearly world champs that year.  But runs are integrated into games, and in 1960, the Pirates won 4 games, the Yankees 3.  Runs and hits are part of a process, but the process integrates all parts of the sport into choosing a winner.

The only run that counted

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Strange Bedfellows

The election of 1800 definitively shows that politics… do indeed make strange bedfellows.  Because of vagaries in the original constitutional language, Aaron Burr tied Thomas Jefferson with 73 electoral votes.  Burr had reneged on his word to stand as Jefferson’s running mate as many states divided their electoral votes between the two candidates.  The matter was passed on to the lame-duck House of Representatives still filled with bitter Federalists.  Jeffersonians had swept the Federalists from power in the election, but the previous Congress would decide the Presidential contest.

Electoral results of 1800

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson… were political opposites.  Their bickering in Washington’s cabinet had formed the nation’s first political parties.  Washington feared the daily conflicts “How unfortunate, and how much is it to be regretted then, that whilst we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies and insidious friends, that internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals.”    Despite the rivalry, only Hamilton stood between Aaron Burr and the newly constructed Executive Mansion.  The Federalists in Congress seemed to favor Burr to their ideological opponent, Jefferson.

Final House vote, ballot 36

Hamilton did not savor the prospect of a Jefferson… presidency, but he would not have slept at night knowing he didn’t prevent Burr’s ascent to power.  Hamilton and Burr were bitter enemies in New York politics.  Hamilton understood Burr too well,   “a man of irregular and insatiable ambition … who ought not to be trusted with the reins of government.”   35 ballots were cast in the House, each one inching closer to a Burr victory.  Hamilton confronted his fellow Federalists and convinced enough of them to elect Jefferson on the 36th ballot.  This should rank as one of Hamilton’s greatest accomplishments.  He prevented one of the most dangerous people in our history from becoming President and he assured that the Jeffersonian revolution would proceed.  Strange indeed….

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Poor Man’s Fight

Donald Trump dodged the draft during the Vietnam war... but this will have little effect on the millions who support him.  In Trump’s world, bluster passes for merit, talk is substitute for service.  Yes, student deferments were draft dodging- especially when exercised by upper-class children of privilege.

A clear difference

A clear difference

Medical exemptions were every bit as dishonest… and Trump used one when his stint in graduate school came to an end.  In July 1968 he was physically fit- three months later(as his deferment ended) he was suddenly afflicted with “heel spurs.”   Rich kids from coast to coast found sympathetic doctors to conjure up various maladies.  Poor kids and men of conscience went to war.

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Only in Trump’s world is he a hero… and John McCain a coward.  Obviously overcompensating for his cowardice, Trump disparages the real article while selling his fraudulent goods to unwitting followers.  Bill Clinton was mercilessly attacked by Conservatives for his activities during the Vietnam war….where are they now?

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