WHAT A DIFFERENCE A CENTURY MAKES!
You may not realize it, but 2012 is the centennial anniversary of what many consider to be the healthiest American election ever held, which was the United States Presidential Election of 1912.
Yep. It was one hundred years ago this year American voters were fed up with our morbidly obese, incumbent president, William Howard Taft, who was re-nominated by the Republican Party, with the party’s ultra-conservative wing (Tea Party?) blocking the former moderate U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, from claiming the nomination for himself. (Mitt Romney?)
But, that didn’t stop our Rough Rider, Teddy. After his unsuccessful challenge to Taft’s nomination at the Republican convention, maverick that he was, Teddy called
his own convention and created the Progressive Party, (aka: the Bull Moose Party) who nominated T.R. for President, along with many other candidates for other
offices in several major states. (Ron Paul?)
And yes, Virginia….there really were Progressive Republicans back in 1912!
The Democratic convention was gridlocked that year, too. Perennial presidential wannabe, William Jennings Bryan, the oft-nominated former Democratic Party candidate, finally threw his support behind New Jersey governor, Woodrow Wilson,
and thus, resolved one of the most contentious Democratic Conventions in
history. Wilson didn’t secure the nomination until the 46th ballot of the delegates!
The term “Socialism” was not bantered about as though it was a dirty word back then and The Socialist Party of America was a major player on the American
ballot for many decades in the early 20th century. Back then, millions of Americans were Socialists and proud of it.
In 1912, the Socialist Party easily nominated their best man, Eugene Debs,
absent the infighting and party-splitting that the Democrats and Republicans
were experiencing at their conventions.
Why would our having four major candidates for president be considered healthy for the American electorate?
Because a century ago, no matter where you stood in our political spectrum; Left
(Socialists), Center-Left (Bull Moose Progressives), Center-Right (Democrats),
or Right (Republicans)….voters had solid choices…and with four candidates, chances were overwhelming that at least one of them matched your own personal point of view politically.
Democracy thrives on clear, distinctive choices…something we really don’t have today in 2012.
In 1912, all of the presidential candidates had a specific vision for our nation as we fully entered the totally amazing, occasionally-frightening and yet unchartered 20th century.
Not only were all four candidates rooted in clearly-defined party platforms, but each also had major appeal to large sections of the American populous, even though women didn’t even have the right to vote at that time!
And most importantly of all…each candidate had a real shot at winning the office of U.S. president because the voters were totally fed up with corporate rule—just like
today! The Presidency was truly up for grabs!
Now…compare this to our situation today, exactly one century later in 2012. What are the similarities? What are the differences?
Like it or not, there are duties and obligations that we, as individual citizens, simply must fulfill if we are to avoid the disasters, both economic and otherwise, that our nation has experienced in the past 100 years….and even more importantly, to avoid the new calamities that are headed our way.
Can we return to the wealth of political choices from a century ago? That’s the sort of topic we’ll be talking about in this blog.
My personal mission is to get our Valley communities and all of our Valley voters engaged in our democracy. That’s why I’m out there at Farmer’s Markets, Libraries and events registering voters of all political stripes. That’s the first step to becoming an engaged citizen…registering to vote!
We’ve learned the hard way that living in a democracy is not a spectator sport. One must participate and get in the game.
And in 2012, everyone will need to be on board for the bumpy ride of our next presidential election.
And…maybe even join a political party like it’s 1912.
© 2012 –