Politicking of the Past

presidentsNo matter what side of the aisle you sit on, or who the president is, we the people spend a lot of time complaining about American politics. When it comes to our favorite presidents, we tend to reach back to the sort you’d see on Mount Rushmore, or at least, in the Hall of Presidents at Disneyworld. I’m an Honest Abe gal, myself.

Did they truly make ’em better back then? Or is that just the fuzzy goggles of nostalgia? Rose-white-and-blue colored glasses, if you will, making America’s past politicians seem better than our current ones?

In a world without 24 hour news coverage and Twitter, maybe it was just more difficult to be hated. I did some research to find out if 2016 really is the strangest election year yet. And what I found doesn’t hold a candle to some of today’s modern hijinks.

I don’t think any of us were around for the election of 1800, but you probably know the names of the fellows involved – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Jefferson wasn’t about to let the lack of internet stop him from slandering his opponent, so he started distributing pamphlets telling outright lies against Adams. When the whole mess was over, confusion regarding the party nominations was so intense, they scrapped the whole election process and started over – forming the 12th Amendment. In modern times, we’ve not screwed up a year so badly we had to change the constitution – yet.

presidentsThe 1872 election saw no-name Horace Greeley running against Ulysses S Grant, who didn’t have a snowball’s chance at winning. When Greeley suddenly dropped dead during the Electoral vote count-up, his votes (only 66 in total) were simply redistributed to Grant, making it a one-of-a-kind landslide win for Grant.

Or how about Eugene V. Debs, who ran in 1920 as a Third Party candidate? No matter what sorts of aspersions we cast on the candidates these days, none of them have been actual felons. Jailed for publicly opposing World War I, Debs ran his fifth(!) and final presidential campaign from behind bars. With 3% of the popular vote, you have to wonder if they thought he’d get out in time to move into the White House!

I’m glad I did the research. No matter how bleak things may seem in today’s news, at least everyone’s alive and not behind bars! Perhaps all this constant coverage, exhausting as it may be, is a good thing – it keeps politicians a little bit closer to honest!

Now, if we could just get everyone on Facebook to play nice, that’d have me singing a Sousa march…

Happy Monday and Happy President’s Day,