bill-swift - April 25, 2012
The presidential election is 5 months away and I'm already sick of hearing about it. It's not that I don't care who the president is, I just want it to be over with. Mainly so I can stop seeing crap about it and can go back to watching porn and looking at pictures of cats online. Campaign season has never not sucked.
The other day at Starbucks I heard someone say, "Oh, it's disgusting how nasty presidential elections have become!" Become? They've always been nasty! If you think the last couple of elections were bad, it's because you aren't 235 years old, obviously. Here some wacky moments in presidential campaign history.
The Smack Talking Election Of 1800
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were really good friends...until they ran against each other in 1800. No one bothered to run against Washington in the previous two elections, because no one was going to beat dollah bill George. The press, which was as vicious and sensationalistic then as they are today, was used by both Tom and John to sling mud. Jefferson hurled accusations that Adams was mentally unstable and had a huge ego, (which was true). Adams had his allies spread the story that Jefferson had fathered several children with his slave Sally Hemmings, (also true). Jefferson won and Adams slinked off into the night. They didn't speak to each other for 12 years.
The First Recount
While we are discussing the election of 1800, it was also the first contested election, (Did you think 2000 was the first?). Poor Adams was beaten by both Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Tom and Aaron tied with 73 electoral votes, so it went to the House of Representatives. The House decided in favor of Jefferson and Aaron Burr became his vice president. Back then, the guy who came in second became the VP. Think about that. It was probably for the best that Burr was never president. He later went on to kill Alexander Hamilton in a duel and was charged with treason 3 times!
The First Presidential Convention Was For...The Anti-Masonic Party?
After Washington, every election has been a contest between two political parties. The Federalists became the Whigs and later morphed into the Republican party. Later, the Democratic-Republicans became the Democrats. There had been some third-parties, but no one really gave a crap until the election of 1831. The country was in a tizzy against the Freemasons at the time. It seems a few of the boys decided to murder a guy named Morgan for betraying his Masonic oaths. Much like conspiracy buffs today, people thought the Masons were trying to take over the world. So, they formed the Anti-Masonic party and held a giant rally to gain national attention. They lost, but after that election each party has held presidential conventions. Thanks kooks!
TV Swings An Election
In 1960, Richard Nixon ran against John F. Kennedy for the presidency. JFK was at a huge disadvantage. Nixon was well known, was the vice president, and was popular with Eisenhower Republicans. The one thing JFK had over him was his good looks, charm, and hair, (JFK had great hair). Normally, that wouldn't have mattered. But 1960 was the first election that was extensively covered on TV. Kennedy and Nixon met for the first televised presidential debate. Nixon was sick with the flu and he looked terrible. He was sweating, coughing, and was totally off his game. JFK looked like a rock star. The country decided to pass on the sweaty nervous guy...until 1968.
Once Nixon finally achieved the presidency in 1968, he was going to hold on to power no matter what. He had become obsessed with the idea that everyone was out to get him. He surrounded himself with a group of thugs whose job it was to destroy his perceived enemies. In 1972 he ran against George McGovern, who didn't stand a chance in hell of winning. Even though everyone told him not to worry, Dick sent his goons to break into the Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. The burglars got caught and the rest is history. Nixon was forced to resign after allegations were made that he had authorized the break-in. It's as if Nixon blew the 1972 presidential race retroactively.