We’ve all become numb to how crazy this election is

Let’s just compare this election to a few others

Before 2016, several historic races would come to mind if one were to ask “What is the craziest election in history?” Some would probably say 2000, others 1960, some others 1824, and probably plenty more. This year, however, stand alone in its unique level of insanity. So, let’s take a look at how this year’s circus compares to some of history’s most memorable.

The insanity rubric:

  • Widely speculated corruption: 0-4 points
  • Divisive campaign: 0-2 points
  • Contested/untrustworthy result: 0-3 points
  • Major campaign scandals: 1 point each
  • Did the debates make me cringe? Yes = 2 points; No = 0 points

Election of 1824: The corrupt bargain

History tells us that this election probably was actually rigged. This year’s race pitted John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State against Andrew Jackson, war hero and ideological frontiersman. This race was characterized by a brutal division between the early Washington political establishment and the common people. Jackson ran on a platform of being the candidate for regular people, and Adams ran a campaign rooted in elitism and superiority, but it is not the actual campaigning that sticks out in history when looking at this election, but how the election was decided. When voting concluded in December of 1824, Jackson carried the most electoral votes with 99, but this was not the majority necessary to win the presidency outright (131 at the time).

So, as the constitution states, the election must be taken to the House of Representatives. The 12th amendment to the Constitution stipulated that in this scenario, only the three candidates that received the most electoral votes would be considered by the House of Representatives in its vote. Because of this, Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, was left out as the candidate receiving the fourth-most electoral votes. Henry Clay, as is well-noted in American history, despised Andrew Jackson. When the House voted to determine the next President of the United States, they voted in favor of John Quincy Adams, 87-71 (William H. Crawford, the third candidate, received 54 votes). This result obviously stunk of conspiracy and corruption, but the result stood and Andrew Jackson sought political revenge for the rest of his career.

Rubric:

  • Widely speculated corruption: 4 points
    • This election is the epitome of corruption as far as American politics is concerned. Full points.
  • Divisive campaign: 1 point
    • This election was definitely divisive, but it didn’t kill Andrew Jackson’s wife like the 1828 election.
  • Contested/untrustworthy result: 3 points
    • Prior to 2000, this election was the standard bearer in contested election results. Full points.
  • Major campaign scandals: 1 point
    • The only major scandal occurred with the election of Adams.
  • Debates N/A

Total: 9 Points

Election of 1960: The first modern American election

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1960 marked the first election year to hold nationally broadcasted (television and radio) debates. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy battled through a difficult campaign to the bitter end which culminated on an election night that lasted until early the next morning. Nixon did not concede the election until the afternoon of the following day, and a few states’ results were overturned via recounts. Kennedy also won the election’s popular vote by the narrowest margin in the 20th Century, winning by less than two-tenths of a percentage point. During the primaries, Kennedy’s health was placed under the microscope, and was very cleverly covered-up. Years after Kennedy’s death in 1963, it was revealed that he suffered from Addison’s disease, and suffered from chronic problems like high fevers, prostate issues, back pain, and several others.

During the very first televised debate in American history, Nixon flopped. He was extremely sweaty, unshaven, and constantly agreed with Kennedy on issues. Despite the fact that radio listeners believed Nixon won, the TV audience is credited with essentially deciding the election after just the first debate. Also, following the election, there was a massive conspiracy of voter fraud on the Democratic side. It was speculated that numerous votes were credited to deceased people in states like Texas, Illinois, an several others. Many Republican elites and staffers on the Nixon team urged him to contest the election results, but Nixon did not wish to undermine the legitimacy of the American electoral system and retained his concession of the election results.

Rubric:

  • Widely speculated corruption: 1 point
    • Corruption and scandals also tie-in together in this election. The speculated corruption didn’t actually play much of a role in the actual election and the results weren’t contested.
  • Divisive campaign: 1 point
    • This campaign wasn’t necessarily as divisive as many before or after it, but the added dynamic of the debates gave it just the right amount of competitiveness.
  • Contested/untrustworthy result: 2 points
    • Again, the results definitely appear a little fishy, and whenever the popular vote is that close, it’s hard to imagine that some strings weren’t pulled somewhere.
  • Major campaign scandals: 2 points
    • Between the covering-up of Kennedy’s health and the voter fraud speculations, this campaign was fairly ripe with scandal.
  • Debates: 2 points
    • Watching Nixon fall apart is truly a sight to see. Watch here.

Total: 8 Points

Election of 2000: The Media Mishap

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On election night in 2000, Americans eagerly awaited the results in their living rooms. For those who expected a simple transition of power from the Clinton administration to either George W. Bush or Al Gore, they were in for quite a surprise. Throughout that night, pundits and experts made their predictions and speculated on the possible outcomes on the electoral map. Late in the night, the called electoral count was 255-246 in favor of Gore with New Mexico (five electoral votes), Oregon (seven electoral votes) and Florida (25 electoral votes) still up for grabs. Due to the magic number of 270 electoral votes required to clinch the election, Florida was the only state’s results that really mattered, as the 25 electoral votes would put either candidate into the White House at that point.

Due to a jumping-of-the-gun by many major media outlets such as CNN, FOX and NBC in calling Florida for Al Gore, it was believed that he was on track to win the election. However, the media’s mistake was forgetting Florida’s panhandle, which lies beneath Alabama in the US’s Central time zone, where the votes had not been counted yet. This zone’s voting history pointed largely towards Republicans, so the neglect of the networks in realizing many Florida voters had yet to cast their ballots proved disastrous when George W. Bush was declared the winner of Florida’s 25 electoral votes and the presidential election hours later.

Despite how crazy the night of the 2000 election was, the campaign leading up to it was relatively boring, with the two parties’ nominees being easily predictable and the ensuing campaign being deficient of any major scandals or controversies. However, the results were highly questioned due to the simple fact that George Bush did not win the popular vote, but was declared President only by virtue of the electoral college. Despite the lack of appreciation for the American electoral system that followed this election (especially five or so years later). 

Rubric:

  • Widely speculated corruption: 1 point
    • Many Americans questioned the electoral college’s representation of the American people and criticized the manner in which Florida conducts elections. These aren’t necessarily speculations of corruption, but widespread angst about the results warrants some craziness.
  • Divisive campaign: 0 points
    • This campaign was actually not very divisive at all, but more of a campaign of issues and position along the ideological spectrum, which seems like a long way away from this year.
  • Contested/untrustworthy result: 2 points
    • As previously mentioned, the results of this election were not highly convincing or well-received by many American voters.
  • Major campaign scandals: 2 points
    • Due to the lack of accountability for a crazy election night alone, I’ll put that down as a ‘scandal’.
  • Debates: 0 points
    • The only notable moment from the three presidential debates was right here. Not too crazy though.

Total: 5 points

Election of 2016: What’s going on here?

Oh boy, the 2016 election. It’s fair to say now that regardless of what happens on November 8th, this election will be given a special place in American history books and discussions. On one side, we have the orange-tinted, loud-mouthed, belittling, lying, absolutely incoherent blob of everything that’s wrong with stereotypical America. On the other side, an equally dishonest, untrusted thorn in the side of most American consumers of political science who can’t seem to locate tens of thousands of emails about wedding plans and serves as a perpetual reminder of why Americans just don’t like politicians. In other years, these descriptions of presidential candidates would be widely frowned upon and diminished as hack journalism. This year, however, is different.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that a majority of Americans would widely agree with both of these descriptions of our two major party candidates. This is what separates this election from the three mentioned above; most other presidential elections throughout history were not so focused on the individual candidates. This is probably the only election in US history with an overwhelming majority of Americans believing that one or both of the candidates have disqualified themselves from the presidency at some point in time. Before I dive into the eternal rabbit hole of mapping out every instance of lunacy in this election cycle, let’s just go straight to the rubric:

Rubric:

  • Widely speculated corruption: 3 points
    • Donald Trump has repeatedly called into question the legitimacy of this election’s results even weeks before any votes have been tallied. Absent of actual evidence of corruption on the Democratic side, this would be considered ridiculous. Although a peaceful transition of power is always preferred and should be the norm, it’s hard not to take exception this time around.
  • Divisive campaign: 2 points
    • Attempting to lay out every divisive aspect of this campaign would only end with me being institutionalized. Full points.
  • Contested/untrustworthy result: 1 point
    • Obviously, no results exist. But, Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to challenge the results of this election if he does not win. One point for “faith” in Trump’s threats.
  • Major campaign scandals: 4 large points
    • Instead of attempting to scour the web for WikiLeaks email dumps and the daily attacks on Trump for his extremely troubling past, each candidate contributes two points for:
    • Hillary’s emails and collusion with the DNC in the primaries
    • Trump’s sexual assault accusations/Access Hollywood tape and failure to disclose tax returns.
  • Debates: 2 points (Can I give more?)
    • These debates honestly gave me a headache each and every time. I watched all 270+ minutes of debating this year and I honestly would rather work part-time as a practice dummy for an NFL team. Full points.

Total: at the very least 12 points

All in all, this year’s election is ridiculous, even when compared to some of history’s most widely scrutinized elections. The worst part about it is that this may become the new normal, and it seems as if many people have just become accustomed to it already. Here’s to hoping that another article similar to this will not exist again in 2020 or any year afterwards.

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