Republican Party needs to nominate Republicans
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 email@example.com.