Since last June, for anyone paying attention to the political arena, it has been a whirlwind of emotions and news bites. More than twenty politicians have come and gone out of the presidential campaign, and we are now edging closer to seeing one non-politician and one career politician left standing. Emotions are running high, and we still have a long way to go.
As we enter the summer months, it looks like this ride will heat up even more as two final candidates go the final stretch into the November election. One thing is for sure; this presidential election is nothing like we have ever seen before. The earliest presidential election that I can remember was in 1956 when Eisenhower won a second time. The “I like Ike” slogan was catchy and memorable, even to a young child.
I am a bit of a history buff, and I like to see things from a historical perspective.
It seems to me that often everything happens in the shadow of what has come before. Therefore, I searched out some readings that may help me analyze the bigger picture of history and election politics.
Edward J. Larson’s, “A Magnificent Catastrophe: the Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's first Presidential Campaign” (electronic resource) relates the story of a very contentious election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In the grips of a new and struggling country, American democracy was experiencing growing pains but emerged victorious.
“America 1844 : Religious fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation” (electronic resource) by John Biknell tells how James Polk’s presidency, versus what would have been that of Henry Clay, meant that the United States could forge ahead into its westward expansion.
Another electronic resource, “1940: FDR, Wilkie, Lindbergh, Hitler – the Election Amid the Storm” by Susan Dunn presents the historical contest between presidential candidates during a growing wartime backdrop.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women” is an interesting and insightful book on the 2008 election from a feminist viewpoint. Rebecca Traister is a thirty something journalist who covered the election for Salon Magazine and was up front and personal with Hillary Clinton and her team. She also examines Michelle Obama’s role and has some interesting insight on Sarah Palin. Traister’s main interest is how these women had a role in shaping the ideas of people toward powerful women. Not all was positive. Since Hillary Clinton is now running once again eight years later, this book gives perspective to compare the then and the now.
“Collision 2012” by Dan Balz portrays an election more negative than 2008. It is a detailed accounting of the process and the candidates from December, 2011, to election night 2012. The final chapter, “Romney’s Take”, projects an interesting analysis, in hind sight, of his part in that election. as well as a foreshadowing of his brief reappearance in 2016.
The most comprehensive and helpful find for me was “The Soul of a Leader” by Waller Newell. Although it is not about one particular previous election to remember and analyze, it helps to put into perspective the choices we have in voting for a leader. The book examines the role of leadership in American life. It covers the birth of democracy in Athens to the Founding Fathers to those of modern presidents. Newell looks at the moral, psychological and intellectual aspects of famous leaders. The last chapter, “The Ten Secrets of Leadership”, is timeless and relevant information to remember today, as we look to this critical and historical election of 2016.