Yesterday, in the pages of the American Thinker, which now seems to accept totally-wrong garbage articles in large numbers, Ron Lipsman erroneously claimed that “it is the habit of the American people to reelect their Presidents” and that US presidents get reelected unless – and only unless – there are good reasons not to do so.
He’s completely wrong.
The US has had 43 Presidents so far (Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and the 24th President). Of them, only 15 were reelected for a second term immediately following the first: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, William Clinton, and George W. Bush. A grand total of just 15 out of 43, i.e. a little more than 33%. (Cleveland lost his reelection campaign in 1888, but came back in 1892.) If “it is the habit of the American people to reelect their Presidents”, why have the vast majority of them never been reelected?
Lipsman argues that, except two “relatively brief” (in his words) periods, US presidents got reelected. I wouldn’t call a 20 or 25 year long period brief. Moreover, let’s recall the facts:
Only from 1804 to 1820 did all sitting Presidents get reelected. In 1824, the Whigs won the White House, with John Quincy Adams being elected for his sole term as President. His 1828 reelection bid was unsuccessful.
From 1836 (when Martin Van Buren was elected to his only term as President) to 1864 (when Abraham Lincoln was reelected), no US president was reelected.
From 1876 (when Rutherford Hayes was elected for one term) to 1900 (when William McKinley got reelected – yet AT claims he was not, thus showing he can’t even get the basic facts right), no President was reelected for a second consecutive term of office, with Cleveland losing the 1888 election but coming back in 1892.
From 1904 (when Teddy Roosevelt was elected for his only own term as President) until 1936 (when FDR was reelected), only one President managed to get reelected: Woodrow Wilson.
Since the 1944 election, when FDR was elected for a fourth term, only four presidents have managed to get reelected, and all of them but one were Republicans.
That means that in the last 67 years, there has been only one Democratic incumbent President who has managed to get reelected: William Jefferson Clinton.
Stats, of course, aren’t everything. We also need to examine why those President who managed to get reelected were trusted with a second consecutive term.
George Washington was a war hero universally revered by the people. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. James Madison was reelected during the War of 1812, and you don’t change your horse mid-stream; moreover, he was a good president. James Monroe was reelected during the “Era of Good Feelings” and won fame as Secretary of State and Secretary of War during the War of 1812. Andrew Jackson was a war hero, the victor from New Orleans, and the guy who closed the central bank. Abraham Lincoln was aided enormously by the Union victories of September and October of 1864, including the capture of Atlanta, the Confederacy’s third-largest city. Ulysses Grant was a war hero. William McKinley was also a Civil War era hero, as well as a competent Governor and a competent President; he also won the Spanish-American war. FDR was aided enormously by government hand-outs and by the unelectable Republican nominee, Alf Landon. Dwight Eisenhower was a war hero and the President who obtained a ceasefire in Korea; and the Dems shot themselves in the foot by nominating a left-wing candidate, Adlai Stevenson. Richard Nixon was the one who, by 1972, managed to almost end the Vietnamese War and again the Dems shot themselves in the foot by nominating George McGovern. Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection victory doesn’t need an explanation, and neither does that of George W. Bush.
On the other hand, what are President Obama’s reelection chances?
As was the case with previous Presidents, much will depend on whom Republicans nominate. If a conspiracy-theorist kook like Ron Paul or a candidate perceived as too extreme (like Rick Santorum) wins the nomination, Obama will surely be reelected. If, however, Republicans nominate an electable, competent candidate, Obama will lose.
Obama is no George Washington. He’s no Thomas Jefferson. He’s no James Madison. He’s no Ronald Reagan.
As President, he has accomplished absolutely nothing except to worsen the state of the US economy and make America and the world less safe. He had no real accomplishments to his name before he was elected President. Even worse for him, now he has a Presidential record to run on. And his record is one of dismal failure.
And despite pandering to various special interest groups, he has offended key constituencies, for example, Jewish voters, who perceive him as hostile to Israel. This is what helped bring Jimmy Carter down in 1980, and will also help Republicans defeat Obama.
So, can Obama get reelected? Yes, but only if Republicans nominate a totally unelectable candidate like isolationist kook Ron Paul. If they nominate a sane, electable candidate, they will win the White House. It’s Republicans’ election to lose.