What are we to make of one party who seems split between two candidates, but ultimately will coalesce behind the one and the other which appears fractured and on the verge of competing factions? Where the guy with the most delegates is not going to walk away as his party’s nominee? Where a party is looking at dividing their support between two different candidates? You assume, of course, I am talking Clinton and Sanders, Cruz and Trump. Nope. I’m talking Seven Score and 8 years ago.
In 1860 it would seem on the surface that the selection of candidates was all about the driving issue of the day: slavery. But that is not the case. While the conflict between north and south was growing ever closer, the candidates represented very different demographics.
The 1860 Republicans had a candidate that led the delegate total, but the party wasn’t sold. After two votes there was still no nominee. William Seward, New York’s former Governor, was staunchly anti-slavery, but pro-immigration and pro-Catholic. The common mid-1800s American was distrustful of Catholics and hateful of immigrants. Slavery wasn’t on their front burner. While many believed slavery to be wrong, the idea of just what to do with blacks who were displaced as slaves was a deeper concern. Most, at that time, did not feel that black and white were equal and freed slaves were likely to take jobs at a fraction of the cost that whites were being paid. In short, Seward was the “establishment” candidate for his anti-slavery beliefs, but was not the voice of the common GOP voter.
On the Democratic side, the Dred Scot decision in 1857 (which held that a slave that had lived with his owner on free soil was still considered a slave) sharply divided Democrats along geographic lines. Northern Democrats were not anti-Slavery as much as anti-expansion of slavery into the west. But Southern Democrats were wed to an ecomonic model that was tied to the slavery and wanted to expand slavery to both expand their economic interests and electoral power.
Back in Chicago, where the GOP convention was held, a third ballot suddenly swung the vote in favor of a more moderate candidate. This candidate had previously — and famously — spoken out against slavery but had moderated his views. Just a few years later this moderate would suggest doing anything with slaves as long as it kept the country together. What swung the convention in his favor? Offering the third candidate from a populated state anything he wanted in the nominee’s Cabinet. And with that, the GOP selected Abraham Lincoln as their nominee.
But the nation was hopelessly fractured. Voters felt there was no candidate that met their ideals. Consequently, four individuals ultimately ran for the Presidency: three Democrats and a Republicans. And the results showed this fracture. Technically, John Bell ran as a Constitutional Unionist instead of a Democrat and picked up three times the Electoral College votes that the Stephen A. Douglas picked up (39 to 12) despite Douglas scoring nearly a million more votes (out of nearly 4.5 million cast). Bell carried Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee while Douglas managed to win only Missouri and New Jersy. John Breckenridge, the Southern Democrat, score a million fewer votes than Lincoln, but managed runner-up in the Electoral College with 72 votes while sweeping the cotton belt south. Lincoln’s victory had more to do with geography than his views. It just happened that the most populated states were northern states.
While the History books tell you that Lincoln’s election directly led to the secession of South Carolina, then other southern states, the initial call to arms for Union soldiers had nothing to do with freeing the slave. The issues of 1860 were dominated by slavery but far from the only topic on the plate of the common voter. Unlike some previous elections where enthusiasm and hope carried the freshly elected nominee into the White House, consternation among the electorate followed Lincoln into office.
Jump in the DeLorean and come back to the future.
Today’s Democratic party is split between a candidate that has tremendous generational support and another who is distrusted by a significant faction of its own party. It is conceivable that the Clinton Camp will offer the right carrots, as did Lincoln’s team, to sway Sanders block of enthusiastic supporters to join the cause even if Clinton outright wins the primary.
The Republicans appear headed for a brokered convention but what comes from it is anyone’s guess. The “establishment” neither likes Trump nor Cruz, with their favored candidate, Marco Rubio, long out of contention even before suspending his campaign. But the common voter does not like the “establishment” of the GOP.
Yes, a GOP brokered convention is probable. Will the GOP select a pro-freedom candidate like Lincoln or another big government master like Romney or McCain? History awaits our decision. Again, history has placed America in a time of great conflict. The Democrats big government masters are battling the Republican pro-freedom patriots. Politically, not much has changed in the last 156 years.
While the partisan Blaze wants its readers to believe a “pro-freedom patriot” will emerge from the GOP convention, it is nearly guaranteed it will not be a unified GOP.
Should Trump not be nominated and choose to run an independent campaign, he will lure a significant faction of voters — both GOP and Democrat Blue Collar America is voting for him. And by some stretch of the imagination, should Trump not be the nominee and quietly step aside, his block of voters will not enthusiastically vote for the GOP’s choice and likely will seek a third party vote or no vote at all.
It leaves the nation, like 156 years ago, headed towards an election where there is much angst with the possible candidates and uneasiness that one candidate can win the majority of the popular vote. And one has to wonder that whomever the winner ends up, how successful will his or her governing be in such a climate?
No party appears to know how to reach its stakeholders, as the two primary leaders, Clinton and Trump, have little crossover appeal outside of their “base”of voters — and that base does not represent the majority fo their own party.