August 10, 2011

America 130 years ago and today

We have many of the same political situations, though for totally different reasons.

Starting with the 1876 presidential election, we had five consecutive elections where the winner failed to get a majority of the popular vote. Hayes and Harrison failed to get even a plurality; Garfield and Cleveland, both presidencies, got a plurality but not a majority.

Clinton won on plurality twice, thanks to Ross Perot. George W. Bush was a minority president his first election, then won a narrow majority. Obama had a bigger majority, but, if he is re-elected, it won't be by that margin, in all likelihood.

There was also the fact that many people felt the two main parties were neglecting them. But, it wasn't over a call for "centrism." Rather, radical (white) populism, prohibition, and other people-based special interest parties arose.

At the same time, relative to those days, both mainstream parties were "money heavy" in their politics.

But, eventually, third parties then forced transformation in the Democrats, to nominate Bryan in 1896, which led to TR getting the GOP's Veep nod four years later. Maybe there are slivers of hope for today.

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