Saturday, April 9, 2016

Donald Trump Should Learn This Lesson From Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably heard Donald Trump pissing and moaning and threatening that the Republicans better not steal the nomination from him at the Republican National Convention. His thought is that if he garners the lion's share of the votes, he should be the person chosen to represent the party, even if he doesn't reach the magic number of electors.

It's a good argument, but it doesn't hold water.

The rules say, if a candidate gets to the convention with at least 1237 electors - he wins. If no one shows up with a clear majority, it's anybody's game. In many states, the electors are bound to vote for the first choice of their state for at least the first round of voting. Some states require them to ride with the chosen candidate longer. Some states let them go free range from day one.

The thing the Donald needs to understand is if he doesn't arrive at the convention with the necessary number of votes to lock in his nomination, anything goes. The system was developed to ensure the party was able to put up the most viable candidate, not the candidate who received the most votes.

Sorry Mr. Trump, but that's the prevailing system, whether you're rich or poor.

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There are several historical precedents, where the House of Representatives was forced to choose the next president. And, no, it wasn't always the person who won the majority of the popular vote.

The election of 1800 was a close shave. At that time, each presidential elector cast two votes - one for president, and one for vice-president. When it came time to vote, one state elector would refrain from voting to ensure the correct candidate was elected president. In this case, it didn't happen. When the votes were counted - it was a tie. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received an equal number of votes.

The House of Representatives was forced to decide the results of that election. On the 36th round of balloting, Thomas Jefferson was selected to be president. After that election, the law was changed, and each presidential elector was required to specify his choice for president and vice-president.

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The 1824 election was a four-way race between John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William Crawford. Andrew Jackson received the majority of the popular vote, but no candidate got the necessary number of electoral votes. As a result, the decision was left to the House of Representatives.

Despite receiving the popular vote, Andrew Jackson lost the election.

For the rest of his life, Andrew Jackson was sure the election was stolen from him, and that Henry Clay had struck a deal with the devil (John Quincy Adams) to ensure Jackson wouldn't win. 

Before the election, the two men hated each other. Jackson naturally assumed Clay would do anything to make sure he was not elected president. In his mind, Henry Clay made a "corrupt bargain" with John Quincy Adams, that made him Secretary of State, at that time a position assumed to be a stepping-stone to the presidency.

Donald Trump, similar to Andrew Jackson, expects that if he receives the majority of the popular vote, he should be president, even if the law specifies something different. 

Jackson ended up calling Clay the "Judas of the West." The Donald isn't as politically correct so we can only assume what string of four-letter words he will call John Kasich or Ted Cruz should they manage to steal the election from him.

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