By William Lewis
As the Republican presidential primaries move into high gear there have been rumors that some establishment Republicans may be considering running their own candidate for president if Donald Trump gets the official Republican Party nomination.
Since the Republican Party was first founded in 1854, there has been only one situation like that, which occurred in 1912. In that year, William Howard Taft was the incumbent Republican president. After being first elected in 1908, he was running for a second term as president. However, Theodore Roosevelt, who had served from 1901 to 1908, was opposed to Taft’s policies and challenged him for the Republican nomination in 1912. Woodrow Wilson was the Democratic candidate that year.
Roosevelt campaigned hard as he always did. At that time there were not as many state primaries as there are now. Although Roosevelt did well in the primaries, the Republican national establishment maintained control of enough delegates at the convention to give the nomination to William Howard Taft. When that happened, Roosevelt and his supporters left the convention and held a convention of their own and promptly nominated Roosevelt under the name of Bull Moose or Progressive Party.
Had there been just one Republican candidate that year, they probably would have beaten Woodrow Wilson by a significant margin, but with the Republican vote being split between two candidates, Wilson was able to win with a plurality of the vote. Roosevelt came in second and the incumbent president came in third. That split in the Republican Party led to a Democratic victory in 1912. Wilson would go on to serve two terms in office after winning a narrow victory in 1916.
It would seem that if the Republican presidential vote is split between two candidates, it increases the Democratic chances of success in this year’s fall presidential general election.
When the election takes place it will have been one of the hardest fought campaigns in American history. What will take place is an election not only between two or three candidates, but an election that will determine the political philosophy that guides our nation.
As we look at what all the candidates are saying, we see a wide difference between the candidates of the two major parties. There is also a wide difference on issues among the various Republican presidential candidates.
In the Republican Party there are significant differences. It is going to be hard to unite once the Republican presidential candidate has been chosen. That is especially true if there is discord at the Republican national convention.
In the Democratic race for president, Bernie Sanders is proving to be a stronger candidate than originally thought. Hillary Clinton is in a tough race against Sanders. There seems to be a lot more interest in the presidential race this year than there was in previous campaigns since 2000. That could be because the issues for the most part stand out. There are stronger views held by many voters this year than in the recent past.
There are some indications that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be considering an independent presidential bid this year if the Republican and Democratic candidates for president turn out to be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
I would hope that will not be the case. Let the two major parties with their candidates battle it out. Once the election is over, let our country unite as we move forward in the 21st century.
In addition to the presidential race, there will be many races for state and federal elective office. How well their presidential candidates do will strongly influence local and state elections.