Monday, March 5, 2012

The Election of 1912

Teddy Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent

Will a divided Republican party cost Trump the election in 2016? Well, it did in 1912...

In the spring of 1912, over 100 years ago, the Titanic, on her maiden voyage, struck an iceberg and sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.  I note that the movie Titanic was re-released in 3D in 2012 to capitalize on the centennial of her doomed voyage.

In the fall of 1912, the Republican party hit an iceberg of its own and sank losing the fateful election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

In his recent book, Holidays in Heck, 2011, P.J. O'Rourke wrote about his grandmother...

"'Grandma, what's the difference between Democrats and Republicans?'

'Democrats rent.'...

'Grandma, which Roosevelt was worse, Teddy or Franklin?'

'Theodore.  He had no business meddling in things the way he did after your great-grandfather's friend Mr. McKinley died, and he divided the Republican Party, allowing that scallywag Woodrow Wilson to become the president.'"  http:/

You can learn a lot by listening to your grandmother!  Teddy Roosevelt was McKinley's VP in 1900 and became president  after the assassination in 1901.  TR was elected in his own right in 1904.  He chose to step aside for his Secretary of War, William Howard Taft, who won in 1908 and was, therefore, running for re-election in 1912 as the incumbent Republican.  The New Jersey Governor and former President of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson, became the Democratic nominee.

TR was not satisfied to stand back and watch after having wielded executive power.    The Progressive wing of the party disagreed with Taft on conservation, trade and labor policies.  TR walked out of the Republican convention with his delegates later forming the Progressive or Bull Moose party.

"While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket.  Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose." Afterwards, probes and x-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches (76 mm) of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle but did not penetrate the pleura, and it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried it with him for the rest of his life. " Source: Wikipedia.

Splitting the Party caused the worst showing in Republican Party electoral history.  Taft (23%) received fewer votes than TR (27%) and only carried two states -- Utah and Vermont.  Woodrow Wilson, who won only 42% of the popular vote, carried 40 out of 48 states and swept 435 electoral votes.

If the Republicans really want to recapture the White House in 2016 they cannot afford to forget the lessons on 1912.
Woodrow Wilson by Sargent
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