2012 Endorsements: Abraham Lincoln

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2012

2012 Election

The Slave Owners were the Social Elite and Holders of Political Power Similar to the Aristocracy in European Feudalism

General Motors (GM) required a government bailout and bankruptcy protection because of rising labor costs that prevented them from selling enough cars at a price to cover their costs while being profitable.  Their problem goes back to FDR.  During the Great Depression his government placed a ceiling on wages.  To encourage companies to hire more people.  By paying more people less money instead of fewer people more money.  So businesses had to do something else to attract the best employees.  And the employee benefit was born.  Pensions and health care benefits.  That were very generous when there was no competition and car companies could sell cars at whatever price they chose.  But that wasn’t the case in the 21st century.  Competition put great cost pressures on those companies with rising health care and pension costs.  And the job bank paying for workers who didn’t work.  Until they could be put back to work.  Adding a lot of costs to each car.  And sending GM into bankruptcy.

Slavery as an economic model had a similar problem.  High costs.  Which goes contrary to the public perception that slave labor was free labor.  George Washington wanted to sell his slaves and hire paid-laborers.  Because his slave families had grown so large.  So he had a growing slave population.  But they all weren’t working.  The young children could not do the work of a young man in his working prime.  Nor could the elderly.  Or the sick or infirmed.  (Who he couldn’t sell along with the healthier and stronger ones in their families.  So he kept his slaves, keeping those families together.  Freeing them upon the death of his wife.  And including provisions in his will to help them integrate into free society.  Giving them some job skills to help them find gainful employment so they could care for their young, elderly, sick and infirmed.)  Yet Washington was feeding them all.  While the growing amount of food they ate couldn’t go to market.  As the years passed his costs went up and his revenue fell.  Just like at GM.  For both had long-term labor commitments that became more inefficient over time.  Which is why slavery was a dying institution in the United States.  The industrial North was slave-free.  As they used more efficient paid-laborers.  Drawing a lot of immigrants to those northern factories.  And slavery was dying out in the South.  Until the cotton gin came along.  Allowing workers to comb (separating the seeds from the fiber) huge amounts of cotton at a time.  Greatly opening the market for that labor-intensive cotton crop.

The typical image of the South in 1860 is endless plantations each with hundreds of slaves working the fields.  Which is wrong.  Most people worked a small family farm.  In fact, most of the Confederate soldiers who fought in the American Civil War came from those small family farms and never owned a slave in their life.  The actual numbers of large slaveholders will probably surprise you.  Approximately 0.84% of the southern population owned at least 20 slaves.  Only 0.05% of the southern population owned at least 100 slaves.  And the number of big plantations owning at least 500 slaves?  Twelve.  So it was a very small population that had a vested interest in the institution of slavery.  Yet the South seceded from the union over the issue of slavery.  Why?  Because of who those slave owners were.  The social elite and holders of political power.  The Planter Elite.  People similar to the aristocracy in European feudalism.  An Old World nobility.  The very wealthy few who ruled the South.  And for awhile they ruled the United States thanks to an unfair advantage they had in the House of Representatives.  Where they determined their representation by not only counting the free population but by counting every slave as 3/5 a free person as well.  And this southern nobility was determined to maintain their aristocracy.

Popular Sovereignty created a Bloodbath in Kansas as ‘Free’ and ‘Slave’ People raced there to Settle the State

Which was easier said than done.  Because of that industrial growth in the north attracting so many immigrants that they swelled the northern population.  Transferring control of the House from the South to the North.  Which left only the Senate (and the presidency) for the South.  As each state got two senators the race was on to admit free and slave states to the union.  Which didn’t really solve anything.  It only made the differences between the North and the South greater.  And intensified the bad feelings between the North and the South.  The North was full of abolitionist busybodies trying to tell southerners how to live.  While the southerners were a bunch of immoral slaveholders.  Bringing shame to the nation that was supposedly a place where all men were created equal.   Words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.  Words written incidentally by a southern slaveholder.  It was finally time to address the nation’s original sin.

Congress passed the Missouri Compromise (1820) after Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French.  Adding a lot of new land to form states from.  The compromise prohibited slavery north of the border between Arkansas and Missouri (except in the state of Missouri).  They added new states in pairs.  A free state.  And a slave state.  Maintaining the balance of power in Congress.  Then came Kansas and Nebraska.  Both above the Missouri Compromise line.  Well, that meant two new free states.  And a change in the balance of power.  Which the South couldn’t have.  So Senator Stephen Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  And the idea of popular sovereignty.  The idea of letting the people in these new states decide for themselves if they should be a free state or a slave state.  Creating a bloodbath in Kansas as ‘free’ and ‘slave’ people raced there to settle the state.  Fighting and intimidating each other so they would be the ones to vote on making Kansas free or slave.  It was anarchy.

Abraham Lincoln had reentered politics in 1854 to campaign for fellow Whig Richard Yates.  Who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Democrat Stephen Douglas was making a series of speeches in Illinois.  In response to one of Stephens’ speeches Lincoln gave his Peoria speech.  In commenting on letting slavery into Nebraska and Kansas Lincoln said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.  I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty—criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

If Lincoln were Alive Today he would Likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

The fallout from the Kansas-Nebraska Act splintered existing political parties apart.  Created new ones that disappeared later.  And gave birth to the new Republican Party.  The party of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln.  Who became the leading spokesman of the party.  The Republicans lost the 1856 presidential election but won majorities in most of the northern states.  Tipping the balance of power further away from the South.  When Lincoln won his party’s nomination to run for senator in 1858 he gave his ‘House Divided Speech’ saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

When slave Dred Scott traveled to a free state with his owner his owner died.  Scott said he was then a free man.  The Supreme Court thought otherwise.  Saying that Scott was still a slave because neither Congress nor any territory legislature had the authority to change that.  Which meant no one could restrict the movement of slaves because no one had the right to restrict the movement of private property.  Thus opening all the new territories to slavery.  Making the South very happy.  While infuriating the North.  Who refused to enforce slave laws on the books like the Fugitive Slave Law.  A provision included in the Compromise of 1850 for the states’ rights South.  That called for the federal government to force northerners to return slaves or face arrest and penalties.  States’ legislatures in the North passed laws saying a slave living in a free state was a free man.  The Supreme Court struck down these laws.  Favoring southern states’ rights over northern states’ rights.  So the states just refused to help the federal government in any prosecution of a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law.  Then abolitionist John Brown’s failed slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, further angered the South.

Then came the 1860 presidential election.  That Abraham Lincoln won.  Which was the last straw.  The South lost both Congress and the presidency.  Worse, the new president, though not an outright abolitionist, opposed the expansion of slavery.  Leaving the South with one last option.  Secession.  Which they did.  Leading to the American Civil War.  Which the South lost because of everything they believed in.  For an Old World nobility just could not defeat a modern industrial power.  Lincoln won because he had modern factories building whatever he needed.  The northern economy was large and diverse providing war financing.  Railroads crisscrossed the North.  A large navy controlled the interior rivers and blockaded the southern ports.  Cutting off the South from the outside world and starving it.  When the South desperately pursued the British for recognition Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Making it impossible for Britain to ally itself with a nation fighting for the institution of slavery.

No president entered office with a heavier burden than President Lincoln.  Standing on principle he made the hard decisions.  Becoming the most hated sitting president of all time.  He did not look for an easy solution like every other politician had up to his time.  Only making the inevitable solution more costly.  And more painful.  He would do what had to be done.  Regardless the price he would pay.  Politically.  Or personally.  A cost so high that it made him a one term president thanks to an assassin’s bullet.  He didn’t base his decisions on the polls.  Or populist movements.  But on principles.  Drawn from the Constitution.  And the Declaration of Independence.  As well as the Bible.  So if he were alive today who would he endorse in the current election?  He would, of course, support his party.  Out of party loyalty.  And because it tends to stand on principle more than the Democrat Party.  Which often used an activist Supreme Court to get what they couldn’t get in the legislature.  Which tends to use populist movements and character assassination to advance their agenda.  Such as the so-called war on women to scare women into voting Democrat because they can’t persuade them to based on a successful track record in office.  Also, the Republicans are more pro-business and more pro-military.  Which gives you the ability to win civil wars.  And other wars.  As well as protecting US security interests around the world.  Maintaining peace through strength.  For anything was preferable to the hell he went through during the four long years of the Civil War.  And to have so much blood on his hands.  The war being so horrific because of a policy of continued failed diplomacy when there was simply no common ground.  He said that there was only one of two possible outcomes.  All free.  Or all slave.  And he was right.  But it took someone willing to be the most hated sitting president to have the courage to act to bring about the inevitable.  So if Lincoln were alive today he would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  Not the party that wants to delay the inevitable by refusing to address the systemic problems of Medicare and Social Security.  And a growing welfare state.  Systems a declining population growth rate can no longer fund.  Because aging populations bankrupt nations with expanding welfare programs.  Just like an aging workforce can bankrupt a car company like GM.

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LESSONS LEARNED #61: “The political elite has always exploited blacks.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 14th, 2011

The New World leaves old Prejudices in the Old World

Americans hated Catholics.  And why not?  Most Americans were British.  In the 18th century.  When Protestant Great Britain was forever at war with Catholic France.  Since the Reformation, it’s what Protestants and Catholics did.  Hated each other.  You just did it.  Eventually you would learn why.  But by then you were already hating.

Also, in the 18th century, slavery was part of normal life.  As it had been for centuries.  Slavery was often the misfortune of a conquered people.  Part of the social strata.  Or simply an economic tool.  Such as used in Mercantilism.  As European powers established colonies, they needed bodies to exploit the raw material and send it back to the mother country.  And the ‘godless’ people they were able to buy from African slave traders were perfect.  These ‘savages’ were little more than animals.  Struggling to live in a hostile environment.  They were better off in slavery.  In the New World they would have food and shelter.  And their masters would protect them from their hostile environment.  The way they saw it, they were doing them a favor.  Or so went the prevailing thought of the day.

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington commanded an army made up from all the colonies.  They were mostly Protestant.  But it also included Catholics.  So he had to tone down the anti-Catholic sentiment that was pretty pervasive among many of these British Americans.  And then there was a march into Canada by General Benedict Arnold.  To get the Catholic Canadians (once a French colony) to join the American cause.  (They passed on the offer.)  And so it was in the Army that the American cause transcended religion.  For it was in the army where the Protestant fought side by side with the Catholic.  As well as the free black.  Who yearned for that liberty, too, that the Americans were fighting for.  Giving Washington pause for thought.  Protestant.  Catholic.  Black.  White.  They were all people.  Americans.  This thing they were fighting for was greater than the individual colonies.  The New World would in fact be a new world.  The prejudices of the past would be left in the Old World.  And he learned that in the Army.  Where America was truly born. 

The Three Fifths Compromise Empowers the Planter Elite

It was many of these Army veterans that championed religious freedom.  And the abolitionist movements.  But the pull of the Deep South was strong.  Their planter elite, though a minority of the population, dominated political power.  Much like the landed aristocracy of feudal Europe.  They had money, power and influence.  Their view of the Revolutionary War was different than George Washington’s.  They weren’t looking to build anything greater.  No.  They just wanted to get rid of the British.  And go back to the way things were.

With the war won, that’s exactly what a lot of people did.  Go back to the way things were.  There were problems, though.  War debt, for one.  And a lack of unanimous consent.  The Confederation Congress required a unanimous vote to do anything.  Which was a rare thing.  The sectional interests were just too strong.  So in 1787, they gathered in Philadelphia to write a new constitution.  And create a new nation.  It wasn’t easy.  During the ratification process, some holdouts agreed to ratify if they added a Bill of RightsJames Madison agreed to this and worked tirelessly in the first Congress to deliver on this promise.  The issue of slavery?  That was a different story.

The Deep South would join only if the subject of slavery was off the table.  They agreed.  Tabled it for 20 years.  Give the South time to figure out how to end slavery.  Then they settled on issues of taxation and representation.  The majority of the southern population were slaves.  If they couldn’t count them to determine representation in the new government, the Deep South would have no say in the new federal government.  So they agreed on the Three Fifths Compromise.  They would count slaves as 3/5 a person.  It was a high price to pay for compromise.  For it gave the planter elite of the Deep South a disproportionate vote in Congress.  And in the Electoral College.  Which meant that this minority in the Deep South determined much of American policy until the Civil War.  Thanks to a large black population that couldn’t vote.

Liberal San Francisco:  White, Right and Out of Sight

San Francisco is an interesting town.  They don’t come much more liberal.  Or whiter.  Liberals are lucky if they’re 20% of the national population.  But a good chunk of that 20% apparently lives in San Francisco.  Nancy Pelosi coasted to reelection in 2010 with 80% of the vote even though her national approval numbers were horrible.  Her favorable ratings barely broke 10%.  In other words, the American people were sick of her and her far left liberal agenda.  They voted a bunch of her cronies out of the House of Representatives, and her from the Speakership, transferring control from the Democrats to the Republicans for the first time in a long time.  Her views are definitely not America’s views.  But they’re clearly San Francisco’s views.

Of course, many of the good people of San Francisco think that the other 80% of Americans are just too dumb to know better.  We exasperate them.  For they are the enlightened people.  The intelligentsia.  The caring.  And they were the first to drive hybrids.  Even South Park ridiculed them for that.  Calling San Francisco the smuggest place in America.  Where they like the smell of their own farts.  And they may very well like to smell their own farts.  But you know what they don’t like?  Black people (see Blacks and Republicans by Thomas Sowell posted 3/15/2011 on National Review).

The black population of San Francisco is less than half of what it was in 1970, and it fell another 19 percent in the past decade…

Blacks are being forced out of San Francisco — and out of other communities on the San Francisco peninsula — by high housing prices…

The black population in three adjacent counties on the San Francisco peninsula is just under 3 percent of the total population in the 39 communities in those counties.

It so happens that these are counties where voters and the officials they elect are virtually all liberal Democrats. You might be hard pressed to find similarly one-sided conservative Republican communities where blacks are such small percentages of the population.

So, in other words, rich liberals love to have black people vote for them.  But they don’t want to live anywhere near them.

AFDC and Abortion and the Black Family

America changed in the 1970s.  The sexual revolution was in full force.  Women’s liberation.  Abortion and birth control.  And all the feel-good programs of LBJ’s Great Society to end poverty and racial injustice.  The liberals were changing America.  The black community.  And the neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) caused an epidemic in children being born out of wedlock.  Because the government was paying single women per baby they had.  So they kept having babies.  Because an inexperienced young man couldn’t get a job that would match the generosity of the government.  And it was a lot easier than being a working single-mom.  So kids grew up without a father.  Spent a lot of time on the streets.  Getting into trouble.  This destroyed families in poor neighborhoods.  Which also tended to be black neighborhoods.  It was the worst of unintended consequences.  But it sure did make the recipient of these benefits life-long Democrats.  Because if you have no skills and a large family to raise, what else are you going to do but depend on those government benefits?

Of course, liberal policies weren’t all about having babies.  They were also helping to provide a lot of abortions, too.  To empower women.  To fully liberate women and make them equals in the workplace.  Because they could now do anything a man could do.  Except pee while standing up.  But they could fool around like a man.  And not have to worry about the consequences.  Just like a man.  So with abortion, birth control and a sexual revolution going on, you can guess what a lot of people were doing.  Having consequence-free fun.  If you know what I mean.  But much like AFDC, this liberation appears to have hit the black population especially hard.  A black woman is three-times as likely as a white woman to get an abortion.  And it is the only demographic where abortions exceed live births. 

Abortion is a very controversial subject with data that is often politicized.  Also, there may be other extenuating circumstances that result in these numbers.  But it shows a trend.  Liberal policies have unintended consequences.  And blacks have suffered a disproportional share of these consequences. 

The Democrat Party is the Party of Slavery and Institutionalized Discrimination

So what does this tell us about rich liberals?  First of all, they’re mostly white.  They claim that they are not the racists yet their actions indicate otherwise (San Francisco is mostly liberal and mostly white).  Their views are a minority view.  The 2010 midterm elections clearly showed that.  Yet they wield some of the greatest political power.  How do they do that?  By pandering.  To the labor unions.  The public sector unions.  The teachers.  That usual bunch that benefits by liberal policies and liberal spending.  And, of course, blacks.

When you look at the history, the Democrats haven’t been all that kind to black America.  It was the Southern Democrats who did their best to perpetuate the institution of slavery.  It was the Southern Democrats that institutionalized discrimination in the South following the Civil War.  Yes, the Civil Rights Act was passed by the Johnson administration but it was the Republicans in the House and Senate that made that possible.  The Democrats had majorities in both houses but about a third of their members were against it.  Whereas only a fifth of the Republicans were against it.  In the final House vote, all the Southern Democrats needed was to get 37% of the Republicans to vote against it to stop its passage.  Instead, 80% of Republicans voted in favor of it.  And then, of course, there’s AFDC.  Thomas Sowell blames this (and the liberal welfare state) for destroying the black family.  And the black abortion stats would probably be called genocide in another country.  Some even call it that here.

Which brings us back to the teachers.  Because when you look at these numbers, it is clear that liberal policies have not been good to black families.  But the teachers are in tight with the liberals.  I mean, with their generous pay and benefit packages they get without the taxpayer having a say in their contract negotiations, why wouldn’t they?  The government takes care of them and they take care of government.  They emphasize multiculturalism, fairness and progressive thought.  And downplay history.  The Founding Fathers play minor roles in today’s textbooks.  But students today can all tell us that the Founding Fathers owned slaves.  But they seem to forget the part about Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, being a Republican.  And that the freed blacks voted for Republicans to protect themselves from racist Southern Democrats.  

Meet the New World.  Same as the Old World.

And then along comes Barack Obama.  The ideal liberal candidate.  And first black presidential candidate.  Because of our public education there is a lot of white guilt over slavery.  So a lot of white America would probably vote for Obama to assuage that guilt.  Which included a large part of those crucial independent voters.  Things were looking up.  But could he deliver the black vote?  He graduated from Harvard Law School.  Columbia University.  He’s an Ivy League guy.  Very professorial.  He could lecture the people.  So well that it offended some.  The Reverend Jesse Jackson said then candidate Obama talked down to black people.  He didn’t like that in the least.  Even said that he wanted to “cut his nuts off.”  So it wasn’t a sure thing.  The black vote.

Of course, Obama won that election.  He took 53% of the vote to McCain‘s 46%.  And the black vote?  All but 4% voted for Obama.  No one gets 96% of the vote.  Unless you’re a dictator in a third world country.  With blacks making up approximately 12% of the U.S. population, it is clear that the black vote determined the election.  For if the black vote followed the same percentage break down of the general vote, McCain would have won the election.

So here we are, some 150 years after the Civil War and the black population is still being exploited by the political elite.  The planter elite maintained power for half a century thanks to the Three Fifth Compromise.  And liberal Democrats today use the liberal welfare state to make as many blacks as possible dependent on government.  Use their control over the public school system to hide the failure of their policies.  Their destruction of the black family.  And their racist past.  To maintain their political power.  And minority rule.  Some things never change.

Meet the New World.  Same as the Old World.  Sadly.

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LESSONS LEARNED #23: “Those who seek a third party cede the election to the opposition.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 22nd, 2010

SLAVERY WAS ALWAYS a complicated issue.  Many of the Founding Fathers saw the contradiction with the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence.  And there were the economic costs.  George Washington wanted to transition to paid laborers as the generations of slaves he inherited were consuming an ever growing share of his harvest.  (You only pay paid-laborers; you didn’t have to house and feed them and their families.)  He had whole families that included babies and the elderly long past their working prime.  People would buy slaves in their working prime but wouldn’t take their parents and grandparents, too.  He didn’t want to break up the families.  And he couldn’t free them.  Someone had to take care of those who could no longer work.  So he would.  Even after death.  He freed his slaves in his will and directed his heirs to train and help them so they could integrate into the workforce.  (Not every slave-owner, though, was as caring as Washington).

So Washington, John Adams and some of the other Founding Fathers saw slavery as an institution that would eventually wither and die.  They saw it as immoral.  As well as an inefficient economic system.   It would just have to die out one day.  So they tabled the discussion to get the southern states to join the union.  But they did put an end date on the slave trade.  Twenty years should be enough time they thought.  And in those 20 years, the South would figure out what to do with the slaves they had.  Because no one in the north could figure that one out.  Who would compensate the slave owners for their emancipated ‘property’?  And there were no biracial societies at that time.  No one could imagine that a formerly enslaved majority will become peaceful neighbors with their former minority masters.  Especially in the South.

But the cotton gin changed all of that.  The one thing that slave labor was good for was big single-crop plantations.  And there was none better than King Cotton.  Separating the seed from the cotton was the one bottleneck in the cotton industry.  Ely Whitney changed that in 1791.  Cotton production exploded.  As did slavery.  The southern economy changed.  As did the political debate.  The southern economy was a cotton economy.  And cotton needed slaves.  The South, therefore, needed slavery.

CARVED OUT OF the new Louisiana Territory were territories that would organize into states and request admittance into the union.  But would they be free or slave?  The first test was resolved with the Missouri Compromise (1820).  Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser) kept the peace.  Saved the union.  For awhile.  The compromise forbade slavery north of Missouri’s southern border (approximately the 36th parallel) in the Louisiana Territory (except in Missouri, of course).  Martin Van Buren saw this as a temporary fix at best.  Any further discussion on the slavery issue could lead to secession.  Or war.  So he created the modern Democratic Party with but one goal.  To get power and to keep power.  With power he could control what they debated.  And, once he had power, they wouldn’t debate slavery again.

During the 1844 presidential campaign, the annexation of the Republic of Texas was an issue.  The secretary of state, Daniel Webster, opposed it.  It would expand slavery and likely give the Senate two new democratic senators.  Which was what John C. Calhoun wanted.  He succeeded Webster as secretary of state.  The new northern Whigs were antislavery.  The southern Whigs were pro-cotton.  The Whig presidential candidate in 1844 was Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser).  He wasn’t for it or against it.  Neither was Martin Van Buren, the Democrat frontrunner.  They wished to compromise and avoid this hot issue all together.

Well, Clay wasn’t ‘anti’ enough for the antislavery Whigs.  So they left and formed the Liberty Party and nominated James. G. Birney as their candidate.  Meanwhile, the Democrats weren’t all that happy with Van Buren.  Enter James Knox Polk.  He didn’t vacillate.  He pledged to annex Texas.  And the Oregon territory.  The Democrats nominated him and said goodbye to Van Buren.

The Whig and Liberty parties shared the northern antislavery votes, no doubt costing Clay the election.  A fait accompli, President Tyler signed off on the annexation of Texas before Polk took the oath of office.

BUT ALL WAS not well.  Those sectional differences continued to simmer just below the boiling point.  The Fugitive Slave Law now made the ‘southern’ problem a northern one, too.  Federal law now required that they help return this southern ‘property’.  It got ugly.  And costly.  Harriet Ward Beecher’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin only inflamed the abolitionist fires in the North.  And then Stephen Douglas saw a proposed transcontinental railroad that could take him to the Whitehouse. 

The railroad would go through the unorganized Nebraskan territory (the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase).   As Washington discussed organizing this territory, the South noted that all of this territory was above 36th parallel.  Thus, any state organized would be, by the terms of the Missouri Compromise, free.  With no state below the 36th parallel added, the balance of power would tip to the North.  The South objected.  Douglas assuaged them.  With the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.  Which replaced the Missouri Compromise (the 36th parallel) with popular sovereignty.  And Kansas bled.

The idea of popular sovereignty said that the people of the new organized state would determine if they were free or slave.  So the free and slave people raced to populate the territory.  It was a mini civil war.  A precursor of what was to come.  It split up the Whig and Democratic parties.  Southern Whigs and Northern Democrats quit their parties.  The Whig Party would wither and die.  The new Republican Party would rise from the Whig’s ashes.  They would address the cause, not the symptoms.  And at the heart of all the sectional divides was the issue of slavery itself.  It had to be addressed.  As Abraham Lincoln would say in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

ZACHARY TAYLOR CHOSE Whig Millard Fillmore as his vice president to appeal to northern Whigs.  When Taylor died some 2 years into his first term, Fillmore became president.  His support of the Compromise of 1850 (admit California as a free state, settle Texas border, grant territorial status to New Mexico, end the slave trade in the District of Columbia and beef up the Fugitive Slave Law) alienated him from the Whig base.

In the 1856 presidential contest, the Republicans nominated John C. Frémont.  The Democrats nominated James Buchanan.  And Millard Fillmore (compromiser and one time Whig) ran on the American Party ticket.  There was talk of secession should Frémont win.  It was a 3-way race.  Buchanan battled with the ‘compromiser’ in the South.  And with the ‘abolitionist’ in the North.  The race was close.  Buchanan won with only 45% of the vote.  But Frémont lost by only 2 states.  He had won all but 5 of the free states.  Had Fillmore not run, it is unlikely that these free states would have voted for the slavery candidate.  So Fillmore no doubt denied Frémont the election.

AMERICA’S ORIGINAL TRUST buster, Teddy Roosevelt (TR), said he wouldn’t run for reelection.  And he didn’t.  He picked Howard Taft as his ‘successor’.  TR was a progressive frontier man.  He had that smile.  This made him a popular and formidable candidate.  Taft just wasn’t as much of a TR as TR was.  So some asked TR to run again.  Against his own, hand-picked ‘successor’.  Which he did.

Taft won the Republican Nomination, though.  Undeterred (and having a really big ego), TR formed a third party, the Progressive Party.  He moved to the left of Taft.  So far left that it made Woodward Wilson, the Democrat candidate, look moderate. 

The 1912 presidential election turned into a 3-man race.  Between 3 progressives.  Taft ‘busted’ more trusts than did TR.  But he just wasn’t TR.  Woodward Wilson was probably the most progressive and idealist of the three.  But in the mix, he looked like the sensible candidate.  Roosevelt beat Taft.  But Wilson beat Roosevelt.  Wilson won with only 45% of the vote.  And gave us the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.  Big Government had come.

IN THE 1992 presidential campaign, George Herbert Walker Bush (read my lips, no new taxes) ran in a 3-way race between Democrat Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.  Perot bashed both parties for their high deficits.  He was a populist candidate against the status quo.  He went on TV with charts and graphs.  He called Reaganomics ‘voodoo’ economics.  While Bush fought these attacks on his 12 years in the executive office (8 as vice president and on 4 as president), Clinton got by with relative ease on his one big weakness.  Character. 

Exit polling showed that Perot took voters from both candidates.  More people voted that year.  But the increase was roughly equal to the Perot vote (who took 19%).  If anyone energized the election that year, it wasn’t Clinton.  He won with only 43% of the vote.  The majority of Americans did not vote for Clinton.  Had the focus not been on Reaganomics and the deficit (where Perot took it), Clinton’s character flaws would have been a bigger issue.  And if it came down to character, Bush probably would have won.  Despite his broken ‘read my lips’ pledge.

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that third party candidates don’t typically win elections.  In fact, when a party splinters into two, it usually benefits the common opposition.  That thing that is so important to bring a third party into existence is often its own demise.  It splits a larger voting bloc into two smaller voting blocs.  Guaranteeing the opposition’s victory. 

Politics can be idealistic.  But not at the expense of pragmatism.  When voting for a candidate that cannot in all probability win, it is a wasted vote.  If you’re making a ‘statement’ with your vote by voting for a third party candidate, that statement is but one thing.  You want to lose.

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