9 Strange Elections From History That Might Make You Feel Better About This One
I think it's safe to say that a lot of people are feeling the feels over the 2016 elections. Some might be excited about candidates standing up to the current political establishment, some are excited for the potential of a female president seeing how far Hillary Clinton has progressed, and others are just terrified at what's happening around the country. How could we let Donald Trump get so far? You don't have to lose all hope though, because this is not the first time presidential elections have gotten a little weird. These historical presidential elections will make you feel better about this one — or just have you sipping your tea like they're no big deal at all.
The elections are not even over yet — and far from it. We have yet to nominate our general election candidates, and the options are quite slim. Even so, there are a few interesting "firsts" this year. Clinton could be the first female president, Bernie Sanders could be the first Jewish president, Trump could be the first reality TV star president. But there have been plenty of other interesting — for lack of a better word — presidential election blunders in U.S. history... although I don't know if that makes me feel better about this election, or worse.
The 1952 To 1968 "Theocratic Party" Presidential Elections
Homer Aubrey Tomlinson ran for president a number of times from 1952, until his death in 1968. He was a preacher and bishop who founded the Theocratic Party, with which he ran all those years, presumably unopposed. He claimed to have 75,000 followers, and dubbed himself King of the World in 1966. It's unclear whether he got far in any of his elections, though when it eventually became clear to him that he wouldn't win, he decided to run for something bigger and become the King.
Literally The Past Four Elections (Including This One)
That's right, Vermin Love Supreme is a performance artist and activist from Massachusetts who wears a boot on his head. He has run for a number of local, state, and national offices, including the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections. He wants everyone in the U.S. to get a free pony, and thinks it should be mandatory law for everyone to brush their teeth. Believe it or not, Vermin Supreme took more than 240 votes in the 2016 New Hampshire primary (yes, that's this year).
The 2012 Presidential Election Specifically
Actress and comedian Roseanne Barr from the 1988 series Roseanne once ran for president. Barr got as far as filing her candidacy as a "Green Tea Party" candidate with the Federal Election Commission in 2012. Her campaign focused on mental health, which is important, but also took Sanders' war on Wall Street to the extreme, as she promised to have them executed by beheading. Yikes. Can we just not?
The 1972 "American Independent Party" Presidential Election
John G. Schmitz was a U.S. representative from California. He ran for president in 1972 with the American Independent Party, and the term "wingnut" was apparently invented for him, according to Discovery News. The more you know! His campaign challenged the Republican incumbent, Richard Nixon. When Nixon took a trip to China, Schmitz said, "I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to his coming back."
Schmitz's views were so conservative that he was removed from the conservative advocacy group, the John Birch Society for his extremist rhetoric. Hmm, sounds familiar.
The 1920 Presidential Election
In 1920, presidential candidate Eugene Debs took third place in the general election, from a campaign he ran from prison. Debs, a union leader, campaigned with the Socialist Party of America in the four elections prior to his 1920 run. Then, in 1918, he reportedly gave an anti-war speech in Ohio, and was later convicted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 10 years in prison. It was from prison that he won over 900,000 votes in the 1920 election, and protests against his incarceration actually evolved into the 1919 May Day riots, according to CNN.
The 1872 Presidential Election
In 1872, suffragette Victoria Woodhull and abolitionist Frederick Douglass ran for office together, which is actually amazing. But the strange part is the other candidate, Horace Greeley, who ran as a Democrat against Ulysses S. Grant, died before the Electoral College vote. Greeley was the editor for the New York Tribune. He died just a week before the electoral vote results, but the reason is unclear.
The 1948 General Election
Leading into the 1948 election, incumbent and Democratic candidate Harry Truman ran against Republican Thomas Dewey. Reportedly, a final poll that was taken just one day before election day put Dewey in the lead by 5 percent, and Truman was predicted to lose. With that in mind, the Chicago Daily Tribune printed early copies with the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman." Truman won.
The 1988 Democratic Primaries
In 1987, Democratic candidate Gary Hart announced his run for president and was the frontrunner for the Democratic party. After he announced his bid, The Miami Herald sent an investigative reporter to follow Hart after reportedly receiving a tip from a source that Hart was allegedly having an affair. The tip led them to Hart's townhouse, where he allegedly spent two days with a woman who was not his wife. Hart denied having any extramarital relationship and chastised the media for their "invasive" coverage. Hart suspended his campaign a week after the story broke, and this case changed the standards for the involvement of media in politics.
The 1968 Presidential Election
In 1968, comedian Pat Paulsen announced his bid for the presidency after being approached by the Smothers Brothers who suggested he run. Paulsen's campaign was centered on satire and comedy — I mean, he was a comedian. But when he was asked about his policies publicly, his response was, "I feel that it is too directly bound to its own anguish to be anything other than a cry of negation, carrying within itself the seeds of its own destruction. However, to get to the meat of the matter, I will come right to the point, and take note of the fact that the heart of the issue, in the final, analysis escapes me." What? Did Trump take a page from his book? Paulsen also ran in most of the presidential elections in the years up until 1996.
The United States have quite a bizarre history of presidential elections, I'll say that... Whether or not that makes you feel better or worse about 2016 is up to you.
Images: Wikimedia Commons (1)