Thursday, September 26, 2013

Losers in Brief: Nothing Stops FDR (Except Polio)

(part 9 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.

Alfred Mossman “Alf” Landon (Governor, Republican-KS) Lost to FDR-1936

In 1934 every Republican Gubernatorial candidate lost, except for Alf Landon. He was a rare Progressive Republican. His platform was almost unrealistically practical: the New Deal rocks but I can do it without the wasteful spending and wide-spread repression of personal liberty. History likes to white-wash how totalitarian Roosevelt was, and Landon wasn’t even trying to take him down. He was just trying to pull it back a little.

So why’d he lose? Lose is an understatement. He got 6 electoral votes to FDR’s 532. That remains the largest loss in history. His personality was about as interesting as his policy platform and FDR was the fucking man. Landon never had a prayer.

Wendell Lewis Willkie (Lawyer, Republican-IN) Lost to FDR-1940

Not even a stupid name like Wendell Willkie could hold him back. Unlike Landon, Willkie was an engaging, powerful force of personality and brains. He took to the country with a William Jennings Bryan level of enthusiasm, but instead of bringing the crazy, he brought some pretty solid ideas. Roosevelt was running for an unprecedented third term after expanding the government well beyond where Americans are usually comfortable. A former Democrat, Willkie made the clear case that he was liberal enough to help but conservative enough to hand the country back to the people.

So why’d he lose? FDR doesn’t lose. It’s that simple. The New Deal was still giving people hope, and a war was looming. Roosevelt was going to be president until he said it was time to stop...

Thomas Edmund Dewey (Governor, Republican-NY) Lost to FDR-1944, Truman-1948

... which would explain why four years later, there he was, running again. Against him stood Thomas Dewey, who was like Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight… before he lost his face and yelled at people mid-sentence. That scene where Harvey swept in and prosecuted every bad guy all at once -- Dewey basically did that. If anyone could take down FDR, it would be the shining White Knight.

So why’d he lose? Because the Two-Face comparison was a bit too apt. Despite his big smile, he didn’t really like people all that much. He stood with big business after a Depression, and he stood for Isolationism while we were already at war. And yes, this is the same Dewey who “defeated” Truman. To put that ridiculous headline in perspective, just the fact that he was a viable candidate after losing so badly to FDR shows just what a great guy he was.


Governor Strom Thurmond (39 votes-1948)- You might remember Thurmond as that super old, super racist senator who died a couple years ago. That’s exactly why he ran and why he won SC, AL, MS, and LA; Truman and Dewey simply weren’t racist enough for them.

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