Every four years, there is a competition like no other. Men and women from all different backgrounds, races, and religions tire themselves out for the most important job in the United States, and possibly even the world: President of the United States.
America picks sides, campaigns for the candidate of its choice, argues at dinner parties, hangs signs, wears pins, and is lost in a year of politics. Competition can be fierce, but could it be fierce enough to divide political parties? The answer is yes. It has happened in history, but could it happen again? Could it happen this year?
To answer this question, we need to go back in history and look at other competitive elections. Not many people know of the election of 1912. In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt was just finishing a progressive, trust-busting first term, but decided not to run for president again and went off to hunt in Africa. William Howard Taft ran for president and easily won. When Roosevelt came back from Africa, he found his supporters feeling betrayed by Taft. Not much reform had taken place over Taft’s four years, so Roosevelt decided to run against Taft for the Republican nomination. It was very close, and although Roosevelt won the popular support, Taft was nominated.
Angry Republicans stomped out of the nominating convention and started their own party, called the Bull Moose Party, nominating Roosevelt as their candidate. The Democrats nominated Woodrow Wilson. In the general election, the Republican vote was split. Although Taft and Roosevelt together won more than Wilson, Wilson won because of the argument.
Another time this happened was in 1980. Jimmy Carter had served one term as president, but was challenged by Ted Kennedy for the Democratic nomination. Attacks flew back and forth between the two candidates, and deep divisions were made in the party . Carter ultimately won the nomination; however, he faced many problems trying to unite the party in the general election.
Today on the Democratic side, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have a tight race for the nomination that has not yet badly divided the Democratic Party and brought a sense of bitterness, But if this election continues to drag out and attacks fly more furiously between the two candidates, could this be like Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, or Carter, Kennedy and Ronald Reagan? Yes.
If Democrats want to take over the White House again, they need to stop their bickering and come together after a candidate has been chosen. There is too much at stake for them in this election to divide over two candidates who have similar stands on issues. “My opponent and I agree on this” is a common phrase at the Democratic debates. Come November, Democrats and Americans need to join together and vote, not for themselves, but for the good of the country.
Nora Reynolds is an eighth-grader at the Academy of the Holy Names in Albany.