I was quite amused by all the huffing and puffing during the Democratic primary about who has the proper “experience” to be President. I expect the same nonsense will continue in the national campaign. Sens. Clinton and McCain would have us believe that they have the “experience” so needed to be President. But as Sen. Clinton’s husband would say, depends on what you mean by the word “experience.” So whether you support Obama or McCain (or someone else), you may interested in a reality check on your voting prowess before the real election.
Let’s examine the “experience” of three Presidential candidates from an election over 100 years ago. Afterwards, I invite you to cast your vote. Then, I will reveal the names and election and you can compare your vote to the historical result….and the judgement of history.
Candidate A has this experience: 2 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He did not run for run for re-election to the House because after he criticized the President over a war the President‘s supporters and Rush Limbaughs of that day howled for his blood. (Sound familiar?) This candidate also has 8 years experience in a state legislature. He was defeated in an election for U.S. Senate two years ago.
Here’s the experience of Candidate B: 17 years in Congress as both a Representative and a Senator. Considered a “giant” in national politics because of his role in high-profile national legislation. Also served in a state Legislature.
Finally, Candidate C is the current Vice-President. He also served 4 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. If he is not elected President, he has been elected to the U.S. Senate and will take that seat after his Vice-President term ends in two months.
So who is the more experienced candidate deserving your vote for President? The one term U.S. Representative who has to bow out from a re-election effort for criticizing the President on a war and who lost a recent U.S. Senate election? The one with 17 years in Congress and who is considered a political “giant”? The current Vice-President?
Review their experience again, if you like. After making your decision, scroll down for the historical results…..
And the results are….
If you selected Candidate C, you did fairly well. Vice-President John Breckinridge of Kentucky received the second highest number of electoral votes by sweeping almost every state in the South. (Another “southern” candidate took a few states but was not a contender.) Unfortunately, the election would be decided by the candidate who won the northern states.
If you selected Candidate B, the political “giant” with 17 years in Congress, you’d have voted for the very experienced Stephen Douglas in the 1860 Presidential election. He finished dead last in electoral votes! But he had the second highest number of popular votes.
If you selected Candidate A, you’d have voted for the very inexperienced Abraham Lincoln, who opposed the Mexican-American War as nothing more than a desire for military glory by President Buchanan. Lincoln swept the North and West to win the electoral college with only 40% of the popular vote.
We know how history has judged the “inexperienced” Lincoln. How will history judge the ability of the American people to identify the qualities needed in a President today?
I believe elections based on near universal suffrage have been a disaster. When few could vote, we had Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Now that just about everyone can vote, we get Nixon, Carter and The Decider. You can’t drive without taking a test; but the main test to vote is being alive (and in some jurisdictions you don’t have to meet that test either). Is it any wonder that government today has been Wal-Martized?
It is not the politicians who should be blamed for where we are today. It is the American suckers….oops, voters, who elect those politicians, that are principally responsible. But of course it is easier to blame the politicians. Everyone talks tough about “accountability” until they are the ones to be held accountable.
When polls say Americans are looking for “change”, all that means is they’re looking to exchange politician Tweedle Dum for politician Tweedle Dee. (At one time the Democrats and Republicans were one party and then split.) These two parties have been the problem all along because they are two sides of the same coin! And it’s a counterfeit coin to boot!
So that’s why, for many years, I’ve been an advocate for a different coin. In November, unless it is very close, I will place my X by the Libertarian party, as I often have when the choice is available. I know what the Libertarians will do, but who knows what either of the other two parties will really do? (Now, if we had European-style parties….)
The Democratic and Republican “platforms” are meaningless PR because even when either party actually controls both the Congress and White House, the “wings” (liberate, moderate, conservative) begin squabbling and so very little gets done. Don’t tell me that the Democratic Party stands for something when Edward Kennedy and folks like John Stennis share the same party affiliation. I can give you equivalent Republican examples.
This election is very weird. A lot of Republicans dislike McCain. A poll says half of McCain’s “support” is from folks just wanting to vote “against” Obama. Seems a lot of Hillary supporters may not vote for Obama. A good chunk of Obama’s support is from folks wanting to vote “against” McCain. Whoever prevails in November may not have much of a base of folks who voted “for” him.
Of course, given my former screen name (anarchist) at another site, I’m all for lousy government. The more of that we have, the more likelihood enough folks will say “to heck with it” and slice government down so much it’ll look like a pea rolling down a 10-lane Interstate.
(Coming next Sunday: Since it’ll be a holiday weekend, you deserve a “light” post. So I’ll make your mouth drop with the lifestyle I, and other overseas Americans, enjoyed growing up in a third world country. It was more fun than you can imagine possible unless you grew up in a similar situation. We lived the “Golden Rule” but it had nothing to do with religion. See you next Sunday!)