Historic (2008)

This election is clearly historic. In this podcast we talk of course about the most obvious way: the first African American President. And how that achievement might have happened a long time ago but not for a turning point in history. But we also talk about the myriad ways this election is historic: the major event of a serious female contender for President, the 2nd female VP candidate and first Republican, an election during a war, an election during a recession, an election with no incumbent or veep, a high turnout election, a non ‘anti-Washington’ election, an election with incumbent party candidates who (once again in history) tried without success to run against the President, an election where money was king but not fatcat money as much as little money, an election where the polls were right, an election where a losing VP candidate (edwards) and a NYC mayor didn’t win..but a man unknown to most four years ago, became President – elect, something it appears Americans may like to do. So many ways 2008 is historic, and a great data point for future elections to be judged by. For historical political observers, it’s like a nice piece of steak to dive into.

10 thoughts on “Historic (2008)

  1. Hi Bruce,Great podcast as usual. I have a question/ comment that you briefly mentioned, but is never mentioned in the media. JFK was the last person elected President from the Senate – but he was also the last to be elected from the “Union” (that is, the Northeast or Midwest). Aside from Gerald Ford, who was not elected, every president since Kennedy has been from the former Confederacy (LBJ, Carter, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II) or California (Nixon and Reagan). Do you have any idea of why this is? and why the media never mentions it? I know that most Southern states have voted solidly Republican since 1968, which weighs against a Northern Democrat winning, but a Northern Republican should stand a decent chance.I’d be interested to hear your take.– Nick

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  2. Nick thanks.Well, you’d get some argument calling it ‘the Union’…but I get your point.The media hasn’t dealt with the issue directly – but has covered in great detail the Southward movement of American politics. Obama is very different in that he is from IL rather than a Southern Democrat- the only type of Democrat it seemed that could win.As for the reason – the ‘Union’ population moved south and west, to CA, to FL, to GA, to VA, to AZ and NV but didn’t have enough numbers to change the politics of the states. Now, it appears they do.As for a Northern Republican there is a problem they have to deal with.While Republicans have a southern lock on politics, or did. Democrats since the Clinton impeachment have developed a northeast lock. You add the Northeast and California and Dems start with a huge gain. Now that VA and FL is pluckable for them, look out.

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  3. Excellent podcast. I’m listening to it now. Seriously, all political pundits and political aides and anyone who runs a campaign should listen to it. Historical trends seem to be very powerful things, and slow to change.As I mentioned, it seems rare that an incumbent president in unseated after their first term, especially if enjoying a significant victory. There may be a case I’m missing, but that certainly seems to be the case. If any politician is going to try and swim upstream against those historical trends, clearly they would need a unique political strategy. As history indicates, what is traditionally done loses when put up against historical trends. Thus, Republicans running in 1994 took a fairly unique strategy to buck the trends of history and win significantly, by nationalizing the congressional elections. Will they do something similarly innovative in 2010? Doubtful. What about 2012? They had better come up with something new and well-thought-out, and informed by the lessons of history, or history will once again beat up their politics. As I may have mentioned, I just don’t see it happening in 2012. If conservatives want any hope of shaping the national agenda, they need to get to work on winning house and senate seats in 2010, 2012, and 2014, or they won’t be setting the agenda on anything for the next 8-to-12 years.

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  4. Agreed that the GOP should look towards 2010. They could totally run the table then depending on what happens. No one election makes anyone secure in America.– and they’ve got to find a way to break into the Northern Lock. Or here’s a good thing – ‘they’ve got to get some Northern Exposure.’ Hah.. Podcast on that coming up.For an example of people who one big then lost, Bush in 1988, Hoover in 1928, Grover Cleveland in 1892 – fairly big wins, not much of contests, yet the incumbent was ousted. There are other factors which help Obama but size-of-win alone is too shaky as a usable tool.

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  5. Another good podcast. I enjoyed listening and thinking that these historic aspects won’t get any mainstream media attention because all the MSM can focus on is the race issue!One thing that came to my mind–the heights of the candidates. As I recall, the trend since the 1920s has been that the taller man wins, with only a few exceptions (’72, ’76). But the past two elections, we’ve had Bush defeat taller men–Gore and Kerry. Obama takes the throne back for the taller candidate!On a related note, McCain–at only about 5’6″ or 5’7″–may be the shortest Republican candidate since at least Benjamin Harrison! (Of course, the Dems don’t hesistate to nominate shorter men, as shown by Dukakis in ’88).Keep up the good work. Your labor of love here is much appreciated.

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  6. Hi Bruce – thanks for answering my question about filibuster-proof majorities! I have another question I was just thinking about: How many presidents have become president without ever losing an election? I mean, like a perfect record. I know Obama and W both lost congressional races, Clinton was booted as Arkansas governor, Reagan failed in 1976. Did anyone ever make it through an entire career without ever losing? For that matter, how have those earlier losses impacted or changed the eventual presidents? Keep up the good work! Steve Friess (pronounced Freese)blog: VegasHappensHere.Compodcast: The Strip Podcast

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  7. Bruce,Great podcast as usual. I appreciate you taking on the subject of race in this aspect. It is an incredibly sad story when we look at all the opportunities politicians had to pass bills that could have made the US a different place. I agree with you that this day would have come a lot quicker. While the Civil Rights movement in history tried to get states to change laws, it is the Federal government that would have to step in to try and fix the problem. Yet, it would take tremendous pressure from the people of America to get things changed. At the same time, Presidents who could have made a bigger impact (Teddy Roosevelt meeting with Booker T Washington and writing fondly of the Buffalo Soldiers while not getting laws passed, Truman desegregating the military, and FDR meeting with Civil Rights leaders but asking for time to deal with the war for instance) if they would have really took racism on could have changed the US for good. Still, other Presidents (Woodrow Wilson to name one) who choose to try and give the states power to make the decisions, when in reality most would side with the “Tyranny of the Majority”. I believe it is still very present today in American Politics but in different aspects and based largely on political party.So, saying that I would love to hear a podcast on the history of Race and Presidents. Shoot even to hear your take on a guy like Woodrow Wilson, who had so many different great ideas, but many troubling ones. Mr. Soderlund

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  8. histropolitics said… Good question. I think though, I would continue to go back to the root of the problem, and I think it is the 1870-90’s in America, where Reconstruction was abandoned, but more than that, even just basic protection of voting rights for black citizens was abandoned. As I indicated in the podcast, even if the balance of just having some representatives from the part of the South with black populations, I think you would have seen a talent pool that could have led to a black President or vice president by the 1920’s.Where the rest of the Presidents, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy come in is related to that. Suffice to say all of them were dissapointing, Wilson stands out because he was technically a Southerner and actually segregated the Federal government…but there was also no precedent for civil rights and black voting rights other than the 1866-1876 period, which by the turn of the 20th century was getting distant.It’s off-putting for those in the ‘linear school’ of history who think we always get better as we move along. We don’t.

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  9. Hi Bruce,Great post-election podcast. I’ve been enjoying them all since my brother suggested I listen in September.I was surprised you didn’t mention that in addition to Virginia, my home state of Indiana went for Obama by 26,000 votes, the first time Indiana has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. Certainly the high turnout in Lake County, adjacent to Chicago, helped push Obama over the top in Indiana. Do you know of any historical examples of candidates winning unlikely states by virtue of their proximity?Thanks,WalkerThanks,brian

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  10. The Electoral College system does set up that opportunity. So that if a candidate is known in one region either because they are from the state or a neighbor, it can be enough to turn the state, and of course, then all get all the EV’s, which in 48 states and DC is winner take all.I suspect it helped greatly in 1912 that Woodrow Wilson came from New Jersey, and was able to win New York despite Roosevelt’s history with the state. By 1916 however, the charm had worn off.

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