Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Rare Elections

I am a amateur historian of sorts.  One of the more fascinating bit of history that I enjoy....are elections....weird and controversial elections.  Over the past hundred years.....we've had two elections that fit into this category.

The 2000 election between Bush and Gore is one of the two.....which most people remember and will be able to recite the basic features and comical conclusion.

The other election?  1912.

This was a guaranteed election for President Taft (running for his second administration) to win.  If you went back to 1910....it was a 95-percent chance that he'd win.

So what happened to make it so screwed up?

President Roosevelt (Teddy) had run the US from 1901 to 1909....less we forget....he was the VP when McKinley died.  While fairly popular with the public.....he was never the favorite son of the general big-wigs of the Republican Party.  He was an intellectual....very capable and clever.....and a progressive thinker.

One of the major things that interested President Roosevelt during his period....was the national parks and forests.  At one point, he decided that he'd use executive orders to determine and acquire a piece of property....beneficial for the US strategy of national forest.   If you go back and review the nature of this deal....because it involved funds....it should have gone to the House and Senate, and been done in a particular way.

Roosevelt refused to turn this into a barter session or a drawn-out process.  There are dozens of reasons why this made sense, and the same number of reasons why this was a screw-up on his part.

At the conclusion of his term....his good friend and associate (they were on a first-name basis)....William Taft stepped into the Presidency.  Both men were smart, capable, and brilliant.  Taft was more of a legal mind and probably an ill-fit for the Presidency but a perfect fit for the Supreme Court.

At some point in the first year of the Taft Presidency.....some element of this executive order came up, and Taft....being a legal mind.....decided that this had been done wrong, and he wanted to fix it.  So he, in a perfectly legal way.....voided the executive order of Roosevelt and proceeded to do it the right way.  But this meant some negotiation and some timber interests involved in the whole scheme.  In the end, this came back to Roosevelt (who'd left the US for a year-long safari in Africa), and turned him into a bitter associate over the way that this had been handled.

Looking back....there various ways that Taft could have done this in a better fashion.  A simple forty-line hand-written letter outlining why he had to do it.....would have put Teddy into a better state of mind.

So Teddy would eventually return to the US....hostile and angry over the mismanagement angle of the Taft administration.

The election....instead of being Taft versus Wilson......was turned into a Taft versus Teddy versus Wilson.  Wilson, with 41-percent of the national vote but an enormous amount of electoral college votes....won the election.  Taft with only 8 electoral college votes, and roughly 23-percent of the national vote....was denied the win.  Teddy had basically screwed over Taft with 27-percent of the vote.

People sat around for weeks after this election....in a dazed state of mind.

Had Teddy just stay retired.....Taft would have claimed easily 50-plus percent of the vote and more than enough electoral college votes to win.

Taft would have been standing there in 1914 when the war in Europe started and had a totally different view of things.

Teddy would have come to the White House and asked to lead the American contingent into the war, and likely been the one standing there for the negotiation phase, and ensured no sour-loser type loss as Germany saw it.  The war would have likely ended by 1916, and avoided a lot of the problems to create WW II.

I look upon 2016 and this upcoming election as being another weird election with impact upon history and the future.  It might be positive.....it might be negative.....but there's some serious impacts likely to come out of this election..

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