Friday, May 31, 2013

Losers in Brief: A Donkey Stampede

(part 5 of 12)

Since 1789, 112 men have won at least one electoral vote. Of that group, 65 never became President or Vice President. Of them, 30 were a bunch of ambitious losers who tried for the most powerful office in the country and failed. The other 35, you’ll have to read to find out. These are their stories.

Samuel Jones Tilden (Governor, Democrat-NY) Lost to Hayes-1876

Tilden rose to power in New York by rooting out corruption. When he saw people getting screwed, he did something about it. After scandal rocked the Grant White House, Tilden seemed like the dream solution. He was exactly the kind of strong, moral leader the country could rely on to restore faith in the Executive branch.

So why’d he lose? If you ask a Democrat, he’d tell you it was massive voter fraud. If you ask a Republican, he’d tell you blacks were threatened for trying to vote in the South. Shenanigans! Let me take a moment to remind y’all of something: if the electoral college cannot decide determine who won, the House of Representatives decides the election. Think about it. Let’s say a third party nominates a candidate strong enough to win a few states, and no one wins 50%. Then you know who gets to make the call? John Boehner. Think about that next time you support the Green Party.

Winfield Scott Hancock (General, Democrat-PA) Lost to Garfield-1880

With the country still pissed over the last election, Democrats were ready to re-take the White House. Going back to Whig logic, they dusted off the highest ranking military officer and threw him on the ticket. He was so badass, the Republicans wouldn’t attack him. The man was a hero, who served his country even as Republican presidents, Polk-style, kicked him around the country trying to stifle his political ambitions.

So why’d he lose? Tariffs, believe it or not. He lost to Garfield by the smallest popular vote margin in history. There was absolutely no difference between these two guys, except Hancock’s party was kind of, sort of pro-tariff. Charles Guiteau shot Garfield because he wasn’t Republican enough. Imagine what he would have done to Hancock.

James Gillespie Blaine (Former Speaker of the House / Former Secretary of State, Republican-ME) Lost to Cleveland-1884

Republicans hadn’t lost an election since Fremont, and Blaine was Mr. Republican. When the party fractured in 1880, his guy won. Blaine was the man standing beside Garfield when he was shot. Like Henry Clay before him, Blaine owned Washington, and in the age of shitty presidents, Blaine was basically the guy running the country.

So why’d he lose? Nothing could stop the Democrats’ comeback. In 1874, the Democrats re-took the House, stripping him of his Speakership. Despite being ambitious and ruthless, President Arthur kicked him out of the post-Garfield cabinet for not being corrupt enough. Personally, I think it happened right at the end of the campaign. At an event he attended, when he was apparently not really paying attention, one of his own people called Democrats the party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion.” And Blaine was Irish Catholic! I’d imagine it’s hard to win anything with thousands of Irishmen dying to play “where’s my fist?” with your face.


Former Representative James Baird Weaver (22 votes-1892)- This Populist Party candidate made the mistake of running against not one, but two former presidents, Ben Harrison and Grover Cleveland. Although, he never had a prayer, he did better than any third party candidate since John Bell tried to single-handedly stop the Civil War.

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