Repub­li­can Party needs to nom­i­nate Repub­li­cans

Cecil Whig - - & - George Will

WASH­ING­TON

that the New Eng­land tran­scen­den­tal­ist Mar­garet Fuller had grandly de­clared “I ac­cept the uni­verse,” the Scot­tish philoso­pher Thomas Car­lyle dryly re­marked: “She’d bet­ter.” Much ink and in­dig­na­tion has been spilled con­cern­ing whether Don­ald (“I am much more hum­ble than you would un­der­stand”) Trump will “ac­cept” the elec­tion’s out­come. The na­tion, like the uni­verse of which it is the nicest part, will per­se­vere even with­out the elec­tion re­sult be­ing ac­cepted by the fel­low who prob­a­bly will be the first pres­i­den­tial can­di­date

than 45 per­cent of the vote.

When the Jimmy Carter/ Wal­ter Mon­dale ticket lost

used his el­e­gant con­ces­sion re­marks to her­ald “a chance to re­joice”: “To­day,

high school cafe­te­rias, in town halls, and churches,

Amer­i­can peo­ple qui­etly wielded their stag­ger­ing power. ... Tonight we cel­e­brate above all the process we call Amer­i­can free­dom.” To­day, such po­lit­i­cal grace notes are rare as the na­tion slouches to­ward its first

elec­toral vote avalanche for a can­di­date re­gret­ted by a ma­jor­ity of the elec­torate. low­est per­cent­age of the

elec­toral win­ner in his­tory. He re­ceived fewer than the com­bined votes for two Demo­cratic ri­vals, the North­erner Stephen Dou­glas and the South­erner John Breck­in­ridge. This

from be­com­ing the na­tion’s great­est pres­i­dent. Ma­jori­ties, how­ever help­ful, are

win­ner did not get a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­lar vote, in­clud­ing Woodrow Wil­son (twice), Harry Tru­man, John Kennedy and Bill Clin­ton (twice), Democrats all.

pres­i­den­tial can­di­date would win a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­lar vote. Ron­ald Brown­stein of The At­lantic

of An­drew Jack­son, which his­to­ri­ans con­sider the birth of the modern two-party sys­tem, no party has ever won the pres­i­den­tial pop­u­lar vote six times over seven elec­tions.” By

Repub­li­can Party will have lost the pop­u­lar vote for the sixth time in seven elec­tions, and will have lost three con­sec­u­tive elec­tions for the first time since the

In the last four elec­tions

fallen below 45 per­cent of the vote and no win­ner has

year’s win­ner is un­likely to be­come just the fourth nom­i­nee of the world’s old­est party (fol­low­ing An­drew Jack­son, Franklin Roo­sevelt The loser, how­ever, could the vote.

This year’s win­ner prob­a­bly will be the first Demo­crat to be­come pres­i­dent with­out en­joy­ing Demo­cratic con­trol of both houses of Congress. (Cleve­land, the last con­ser­va­tive Demo­cratic pres­i­dent, ve­toed more bills dur­ing his two, non-con­sec­u­tive terms than all of his pre­de­ces­sors com­bined.) This year will be the fourth of a par­tic­u­lar kind of Repub­li­can dis­ap­point­ment since World War II. In

Repub­li­cans won huge vic­to­ries in off-year elec­tions but two years later lost the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Jef­fer­son said “the bois­ter­ous sea of lib­erty is never with­out a wave,” but some waves have be­come less tur­bu­lent. For ex­am­ple, in mar­riage. Three elec­tions later, this is­sue has vir­tu­ally dis­ap­peared from po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

Amer­i­cans might as though they are feel liv- ing through an un­ceas­ing and un­prece­dented po­lit­i­cal mael­strom, but by one mea­sure there is unusual sta­bil­ity: The na­tion is near­ing the end of a third con­sec­u­tive two-term pres­i­dency, some­thing that has oc­curred only once be­fore

dy­nasty of the third, fourth and fifth pres­i­dents (Jef­fer­son, Madison, Mon­roe). Of the five pres­i­dents in of­fice from the in­au­gu­ra­tion of John Kennedy in

one served two full terms.

The last Demo­crat di­rectly elected (that is, not count­ing Harry Tru­man or John­son, who were elected af­ter in­her­it­ing the of­fice) to suc­ceed a Demo­crat was James Buchanan, ar­guably the worst pres­i­dent ever. One hun­dred and sixty years later, Repub­li­cans fear­ing four Clin­ton years can rea­son­ably hope there will be no more than four: The like­li­hood of Democrats win­ning a fourth con­sec­u­tive pres­i­den­tial term will be re­duced if the Repub­li­can Party re­verts to its prac­tice, ad­hered to since it chose John C. Fre­mont in

George Will is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact him at georgewill@wash­post.com.

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