The End of Partisan Politics

1804-presidential-election-electoral-collegeThomas Jefferson was elected president in a tied election in 1800. He then went on to win a landslide election in 1804, beating Charles Pinckney 72.8% to 27.2%. This is the biggest margin in history for a U.S. election with more than one major party candidate. Most attribute this dominant win to the popularity of the (unconstitutional) Louisiana Purchase.

Jefferson predicted an end of partisan politics based on this experience. I think, much like Obama, he often presented himself as a person who is above partisan bickering. From this kind of (possibly artificial) idealism came a vision that the “truth” will eventually make partisan politics a rarity. Of course, as we see today, the opposite has come to pass.

Soon after Jefferson’s presidency was the War of 1812, followed by the Era of Good Feelings, when Monroe rode the nationalistic high of “victory” to a unanimous landslide win (except for one electoral vote). Unanimous!

Such elections seem nearly impossible these days. Still it continues to impress me how many people are able to stay unified under one of two parties. It is remarkable to me that if you like guns, you’re also (statistically) likely to be pro-life, anti-immigration, anti-union, etc. The bunching of social, political, and fiscal views into two packages for distribution every 4 years is a surreal process.

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