Tag Archives: Presidential 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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Facts in Five

Election of 1948 edition

 

  • Democrats briefly courted Dwight D. Eisenhower to challenge Truman for the nomination.  The Republicans were talking with Douglas MacArthur during the same period. 
  • Truman’s support for  NAACP legal efforts combined with his executive order desegregating the military caused the Southern Democrats to splinter and nominate Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond.
  • Liberal Democrats rejected Truman as well- they nominated Henry Wallace as the Progressive party candidate.
  • Dewey’s lackluster campaign was best summed up by the poorly crafted message- “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
  • As election day arrived, only Truman was convinced of his victory- many on his staff had already accepted other jobs. 

Harry1

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Not Another Campaign Speech

Historically, inaugural speeches celebrate the American system… our republican virtue and the peaceful transfer of power.  Partisanship is put  aside in acknowledgment of being part of something greater, and speakers usually are humbled by the Day.

Still on the Stump

Still on the Stump

January 20, 2017 was just another stump speech for our 45th President… unaware or unwilling to accept that the day and our history dwarf him, President Trump repeated his neo-populist campaign slogans in a not-so-subtle swipe at his predecessors.  At the precise moment he should have shed his reality TV persona, Mr. Trump chose to continue his role as rabble rouser in-chief.

"candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance."

“candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.”

John Adams understood the gravity of his inauguration… March 4, 1797.  His words echoed through history for generations to follow, yet were all but ignored today:

“The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.”

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2016 in Context

Americans have elected unorthodox candidates to the Presidency before… though Donald Trump’s victory could prove to be the most radical of them all.  Here is a list of the stranger decisions of our electorate…

 

5.  William Henry Harrison–  Desperate for a return to Jacksonian form, Whigs from around the country rallied around the lifelong soldier and Virginia aristocrat.  Though his personal story hardly resembled Jackson’s, Harrison’s reputation as an Indian fighter was enough to propel him to the Presidency.  At the time, he was the oldest man elected to the office.

Bully Pulpit

Bully Pulpit

4.  Theodore Roosevelt-  Though many historians claim Roosevelt crafted his persona to gain higher office, his pedigree as historian, rancher, and reformer set him apart from other post- Civil War politicians.  The Office was changing and Roosevelt was the perfect candidate for the era.  At the time, he was the youngest man to hold the office.

 

3.  Zachary Taylor-  With a nickname like ‘Old Rough ‘n’ Ready’, Taylor was clearly an unconventional choice in 1848.  Not only had he never held public office, but also claimed(proudly) to have never voted.  We elected a candidate with no experience, no affiliation, and no agenda….sound familiar?

Let us see what's in there

Let us see what’s in there

2.  Andrew Jackson-  On the surface, Jackson appeared the perfect candidate- military service, humble roots, and holding elected office at all levels.  What separated him was his temperament- Jackson was incredulous, uncouth, and violent.  A man too often consumed by his passions and pride, Jackson’s judgement was often affected by these detriments.  His brand of raucous populism forever changed electoral politics.

 

1.  Donald Trump-  Frustratingly unprincipled, irretrievably vulgar, and perilously ignorant,  Trump stands as the greatest gamble the American voters have ever taken.  The political elite controlling our government so abused the voters’ trust, Trump became their last resort.  Harnessing a dangerous breed of populism, Trump proved an effective demagogue on the campaign trail- and fear has swept him to the Presidency.

Time will tell?

Time will tell?

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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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Facts in Five

Election of 1948 edition

 

  • Democrats briefly courted Dwight D. Eisenhower to challenge Truman for the nomination.  The Republicans were talking with Douglas MacArthur during the same period. 
  • Truman’s support for  NAACP legal efforts combined with his executive order desegregating the military caused the Southern Democrats to splinter and nominate Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond.
  • Liberal Democrats rejected Truman as well- they nominated Henry Wallace as the Progressive party candidate.
  • Dewey’s lackluster campaign was best summed up by the poorly crafted message- “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
  • As election day arrived, only Truman was convinced of his victory- many on his staff had already accepted other jobs. 

Harry1

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Not Reality TV

Trump’s inability to accept the inevitable was on full display last night… he’s losing this campaign and will fall in the election by a yuuuuuge margin.  Scowling his way through the final debate, Trump hinted again at not accepting defeat on Nov. 9.   Rather than admit his shortcomings as a candidate, he has perpetrated the false narrative of a “rigged system.”  His colossal insecurity is actively undermining our democracy.  Media bias is not “rigging the system”, it is simply a response to HIS OWN hostility.  If this irresponsible rhetoric causes any illegal or destructive behavior by his followers, Trump must be held accountable. 

Already a sore loser

Already a sore loser

Attempts to link Trump’s absurd notion of refusing to accept election outcomes… with Al Gore’s actions in 2000 fail the test of history.   Gore drew back his concession because the decisive electoral verdict would come from a state that had instituted and mandatory recount.  Florida went to George W. Bush by a margin of 537 votes.   Gore’s hesitation was understandable, his continued litigation, debatable.

Counting votes

Counting votes

The election of 2016 is not coming down to one state… the electoral result is going to be decisive.  Any attempt to claim that it was somehow stolen, or manipulated is foolish talk from an irresponsible candidate.

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