"Hail to the Chief" - The Presidential Discussion (Ronald Reagan's 2nd Term)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Kimball_Kinnison, Jul 26, 2006.

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  1. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Greetings, one and all!

    The greatly esteemed moderator, Ender_Sai, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Floor, and Grand High Pooh-bah in all things political (have I sucked up enough to keep from getting banned yet?) blackmailed, er, asked me to host a discussion on the various US Presidents. Since I could not meet his extortion demands, here I am with this thread.

    There are several ways that we could do this, ranging from starting with the current President and working backwards (big mistake, I'd rather not have a flame war), or starting from the first President and working forwards (but then, everyone does that). I decided to forget about both of those and look at them in a different order. We're going to look at them on the basis of electoral victories.

    I spent little time to compile a list of every US presidential election, the winner, total number of electoral votes, and the winner's electoral votes. From that, I put the presidents in order based on percetnage of the electoral vote (since you need to win a majority in the Electoral College to become President, or else the election goes to the House of Representatives). The following is the list I created:
    Election Total Electoral Votes Winner Votes Percentage
    1789 69 George Washington 69 100.00%
    1792 132 George Washington 132 100.00%
    1936 531 Franklin D. Roosevelt 523 98.49%
    1820 235 James Monroe 231 98.30%
    1984 538 Ronald W. Reagan 525 97.58%
    1972 538 Richard M. Nixon 520 96.65%
    1804 176 Thomas Jefferson 162 92.05%
    1864 233 Abraham Lincoln 212 90.99%
    1980 538 Ronald W. Reagan 489 90.89%
    1964 538 Lyndon B. Johnson 486 90.33%
    1932 531 Franklin D. Roosevelt 472 88.89%
    1956 531 Dwight D. Eisenhower 457 86.06%
    1852 296 Franklin Pierce 254 85.81%
    1940 531 Franklin D. Roosevelt 449 84.56%
    1816 217 James Monroe 183 84.33%
    1928 531 Herbert Hoover 444 83.62%
    1952 531 Dwight D. Eisenhower 442 83.24%
    1912 531 Woodrow Wilson 435 81.92%
    1944 531 Franklin D. Roosevelt 432 81.36%
    1872 352 Ulysses S. Grant 286 81.25%
    1840 294 William Henry Harrison 234 79.59%
    1988 538 George H. W. Bush 426 79.18%
    1832 286 Andrew Jackson 219 76.57%
    1920 531 Warren G. Harding 404 76.08%
    1868 294 Ulysses S. Grant 214 72.79%
    1924 531 Calvin Coolidge 382 71.94%
    1904 476 Theodore Roosevelt 336 70.59%
    1996 538 William J. Clinton 379 70.45%
    1808 175 James Madison 122 69.71%
    1992 538 William J. Clinton 370 68.77%
    1828 261 Andrew Jackson 178 68.20%
    1908 483 William H. Taft 321 66.46%
    1900 447 William McKinley 292 65.32%
    1892 444 Grover Cleveland 277 62.39%
    1844 275 James K. Polk 170 61.82%
    1896 447 William McKinley 271 60.63%
    1860 303 Abraham Lincoln 180 59.41%
    1812 217 James Madison 128 58.99%
    1856 296 James Buchanan 174 58.78%
    1888 401 Benjamin Harrison 233 58.10%
    1880 369 James A. Garfield 214 57.99%
    1836 294 Martin Van Buren 170 57.82%
    1948 531 Harry S. Truman 303 57.06%
    1960 537 John F. Kennedy 303 56.42%
    1848 290 Zachary Taylor 163 56.21%
    1968 538 Richard M. Nixon 301 55.95%
    1976 538 James E. Carter 297 55.20%
    1884 401 Grover Cleveland 219 54.61%
    2004 538 George W. Bush 286 53.16%
    1800 138 Thomas Jefferson 73 52.90%
    1916 531 Woodrow Wilson 277 52.17%
    1796 138 John Adams 71 51.45%
    2000 538 George W. Bush 271 50.37%
    1876 369 Rutherford B. Hayes 185 50.14%
    1824 261 John Quincy Adams 84 32.18%
    I'd like to start from the beginning of this list and work down it. As we reach a new President, we can choose to either discuss only the term in question, or any and all terms served by the President. If the terms are back-to-back on the list, we'll just combine them.

    Now, for some ground rules.

    1) This thread will focus on the specific president being discussed. Some discussion from a previous president is to be expected, as well as comparisons to other presidents. However, this is not to become a general discussion on the current or any other president (unless it gets to be their turn).

    2) This isn't the place to debate things like whether the Electoral College is a good system for electing presidents.
  2. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Wow, KK, you put in a lot of hard work. We're proud of you.

    so, we begin with Washington, eh?
    If I remember correctly, he wasn't in a politicl party.
  3. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Let's start it off with George Washington, combining both terms (1789 and 1792 elections).

    Brief Overview

    Washington has the distinction of being the only man to ever win the electoral vote unanimously, and he did it twice, winning him the top place on the list. As the first President, he is known as "Father of His Country". Over the course of his two terms, he established many of the precedents that later Presidents followed, with some precedents eventually being enshrined in law (such as a two term limit).

    His farewell speech guided US policy for decades.

    He guided the formation of the US government in a practical sense, creating the first Cabinet and signing into law many of the congressional acts that organized the different branches of the government.

    He is the only President to exercise his authority as "Commander in Chief" to take personal command of the army on the battlefield, in what was probably his most noteable domestic issue: the Whiskey Rebellion.

    Thoughts?

    Kimball Kinnison
  4. DarthPoppy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 4
    link didn't work. Sorry.
  5. Fluke_Groundrunner Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2001
    star 4
    Are we to concentrate on Washington as president or the man’s life in general, which includes events before his presidency, i.e. French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, Cherry Tree Chopping ;) etc.?
  6. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    A little of each, if you'd like. For now, the topic of this thread is George Washington. We'll run with it until it feels like time to move on.

    Kimball Kinnison
  7. Lank_Pavail Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2002
    star 7
    Washington had a foresight that sadly we Americans couldn't see. He warned us against the political party system, and we discounted it over the years. Now we have these two behemoths who try hard to squash down any other competition and until recenty, have tried very hard to appeal to the middle third of the nation for elections while still keeping the extremeists in their groups somewhat happy. I think this has changed somewhat with the polarizing of politics in the post 9/11 era, but we can discuss that when we come to that time period.

    He was also a darn lucky military commander, and someone who thought beyond his time. He quite literaly saved the Great Experiment that was the US with his impassioned speech to the former Continental soliders who were going to force the Congress to pay their promised pensions, but who were so cashstrapped they were goingto have to renege.
  8. Smuggler-of-Mos-Espa Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2002
    star 6
    I can agree that. While Washington wouldn't be my favorite US President of all time, he had a lot of good concepts and values that we should look back on more than we do. It's too bad that we've lost so many of those values over the years.

    Along with that, I thought it was terrible that he chopped down the cherry tree. [face_plain]
  9. cal_silverstar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2002
    star 4
    Washington stands as one of my favorite Presidents of all time. He represents great leadership (leading men in battle from the front) militarily and politically. He was also able to relinquish his power with grace and honor. Washington the Warrior on the History Channel is wonderful documentary on this man.

    Also, the Cherry Tree Chopping was made up by an early biographer, Parson Weems.
  10. Lank_Pavail Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2002
    star 7
    He took some breathtaking risks as General of the Continetal Army, that's for sure. And like I said he was pretty much blessed. His and the Army's escape from New York with all but a few men (who stayed behind to loot) and a couple of cannon too stuck to move under cover of fog was the forerunner of Dunkirk nearly two hundred years later, and just as miraclulous.
  11. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    George Washington was definitely the best President of the United States. He kept the nation together, how many other democracies were stable in their first years? He didn't abuse his power, which would have set a bad precedent for presidents to follow. He wasn't afraid to risk his life for the country, like leading the charge to scare away the Whiskey Rebellion. He never aligned to political parties, and he kept America out of the mess Europe was in at the time.
  12. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    I have trouble with people like Washington, not because I don't respect him, but because it becomes difficult to separate the man from the myth.

    From everything I've read, Washington's greatest accomplishment was essentially to ensure that the system worked. The Whiskey Rebellion is a testament to Washington's enduring legacy, the entirety of the federal system owes a thanks to Washington's leadership.

    Now, personally, I don't think Washington was necessarily the smartest, or the kindest, or the most intuitive man in history. But he had that french word for 'how do you say,' and he had great people giving him advice which he used pretty effectively.

    I think a great quality of Washington's was that he seemed even tempered, calm, cool, and rationale. I think that Whiskey Rebellion link KK provided gives great insight to the kind of person Washington was.

    He took command when he had to, he ensured federal authority meant something, but in the end, he had compassion, and he pardoned those sent to death, showing his good nature. The grounds for the pardon show his sense of humor I think.
  13. Darth-Seldon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    I won't pretend to be an expert on the Washington Administration, biography or personality. In my ignorance however, I plan on making reflections based on what I do know. I see Washington in two very different ways. His leadership in bridging the colonies into a stable-nation state is undeniable. Besides helping the Americans to win the revolution (a triumph they perhaps owe more to the French) Washington generated stability and order and allowed an electoral democracy to develop on the continent. Maybe his greatest victory was the men he surrounded himself with. Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams were the most capable men in the nation and formed a strong backbone for the administration (despite the conflicting personalities.)

    In some ways though, he was a transition figure and not really a first President at all. Washington failed to comprehend the direction the US needed to take. While all of the founders were wary of factions which could divide the infant nation, Washington just couldn't understand the ultimate emergence of political parties to sustain the electoral democracy. The true visionaries with insight into the American future were Hamilton and Jefferson and not the first President.

    Often in American history, generals are selected to the highest political office. They are always the epitome of leadership, but often are not flexible enough for the office. Washington will forever be shrouded in patriotic propaganda as the American father figure. He is as untouchable in the national myth as the statue of liberty or the stars and stripes. Despite this, he perhaps gets more credit than deserved.

    -Seldon
  14. Darth-Horax Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2001
    star 6
    Wasn't John Adams ACTUALLY called the Father of our Country, and not Washington?

    Either way, Washington was a man who believed in God, and held the belief that it was ok for God to be part of the government. The nation was founded by those looking for religious freedom, so why not embrace the very thing that brought you here?

    It's sad that today religion is viewed as merely an annoyance to the US Government.

    That said, you've got to give Washington his props. I mean, any man that can wear a wig and look that darn COOL has got to be tops in my book!
  15. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    DS, I would disagree with your charecterization about Washington being a transition figure, and not a President.

    Washington defined the Presidency, it is his everlasting legacy.
  16. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    Washington embodied the role of a statesman who stayed above the fray and kept his cool. In many ways, it was his austerity and dignity that made the presidency what it eventually ended up becoming. He held levees and formal balls to give the office prestige, thereby making it more than a weak figurehead position. He also held back from dictatorial controls, thereby emphasizing that the president was still the servant of the people. He led a very careful balancing act, and that's his biggest legacy to the political system. His steadfast support of the Constitution and his tact as the first president is what really made the Republic what it is today: the Constitution would have never lasted if anyone but Washington was the first chief executive.

    Though it's clear that he did have partisan leanings. I hesitate to call them factions, because they didn't clearly become factions until the Jefferson administration. Before, there was the party of government (which didn't see itself as a faction) and the opposition. Politics in Washington's age was a matter of those who were the most qualified, and he very distinctly supported the Hamiltonian agenda--especially when Jefferson and Madison used state department assets to launch a direct newspaper attack on Washington himself.

    Politics in the beginning of the Republic were extremely acrimonious, far more than they are today. The only reason that people today don't see things that way is because of the grand figures that WERE the bitter rivals of the day, and the smooth demise of the First Party System didn't leave many bitter memories since everyone of that age was dead, dying, or had moved on.

    Nevertheless, in my opinion, the Washington Administration and the party that came out of it consisted of the greatest concentration of collective talent that the United States has ever seen. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, Daniel Webster, John Adams, and Fisher Ames were the blazing geniuses of a visionary and stately party that died a premature death.
  17. Blue_Jedi33 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2003
    star 5
    What I find interesting is that had the British made him an Officier he might have been the one leading the British forces against American forces.
    He resigned twice from the military and had a 16 year civilian life in between.
    He refused to take a demotion from Lt. Colonel to Capt. resigning instead.

    He is one of the great leaders in history for sure.
  18. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Sorry it took so long to move this along. I've been busy dealing with some personal matters for the past week or so.

    Next up: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election in 1936, with 98.49% of the electoral vote.

    To start with, we need to consider some of the historical events of that time. In March 1936, Germany reoccupied the Rhineland, violating the Treaty of Versailles. The second Nazi concentration camp opened that year (Sachsenhausen). King George V of the UK passed away in January, and his successor (Edward VIII) abdicated later in the year, leading to the rise off George VI in December.

    This was Roosevelt's second term. The economy was in a state of recovery, until a new recession hit in 1937, returning it to 1934 levels of employment. The New Deal was almost over (the last of the "New Deal" programs would be passed in 1937). The Hoover Dam was completed, offering power to many parts of the southwest.

    On the legislative front, very little happened during Roosevelt's second term. Probably the most important legislation to come from this term was the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, instituting the minimum wage. Supreme Court opposition to many New Deal programs continued, leading Roosevelt to propose his now-infamous court packing plan (which ultimately failed).

    Germany and Japan would both move towards expansion, leading ultimately to World War II.

    Thoughts? Remember, this is focusing on the election of 1836 and Roosevelt's second term, from 1937-1941.

    Kimball Kinnison
  19. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    It's funny as I remember this term being referred to by Historians as indicative of the 'second term slump' every modern President has faced. Looking back at Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, Eisenhower, even Truman, and of course Roosevelt, you find that second terms hurt the President a great deal for some reason. The thing with Roosevelt was that he was elected to four terms, but people credit his third term and his first term being his best, with his second term falling victim to the second term slump.
  20. Lank_Pavail Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2002
    star 7
    It did give him a chance to maintain some continuity with the programs he'd been pursuing, even with many of the New Deal programs ending during this term. He was able to give some 'back door' assitance to Britain via the 'Lend-Lease Act' while officially keeping America neutral in the beginning years of WWII. I believe this was the term he and Churchill began their working relationship as well.

    I must admit, I'm also a bit out of my element here, ad I apologize in adnvance if any of the above are incorrect.
  21. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Next up: James Monroe's second term (1821-1825) and the election of 1820

    James Monroe received the closest to a unanimous vote of anyone in US history, with the exception of George Washington. Winning in a landslide, Monroe received all but four electoral votes (three electors had died without replacement before voting, and William Plumer cast his vote for John Quincy Adams).

    During the election, there was a significant controversy as to whether Missouri's votes should be counted, as it had not formally received statehood.

    The two most significant events of Monroe's presidency happened in his second term.

    1) The Missouri Compromise was finalized, temporarily resolving the issue of slave v. free states.

    2) The Monroe Doctrine was issued. Although it would not be known by that name until 1831, it would be Monroe's single greatest legacy.

    Thoughts?

    Kimball Kinnison
  22. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Not sure how much credit should actually go to Monroe, but it seems to be one of the most important doctrines in U.S. Histroy. Essentially, we got to make sure that Europe would not have any more influence on us than they already had.
  23. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I'd probably go so far as to say that the Monroe Doctrine is probably the single most important event (at least since the European colonization of the Americas) in the development of the Americas.

    It's interesting to note that only half of the Monroe Doctrine has really stood the test of time. Most people only focus on the prohibition of further European colonization in the Americas. However, the other half of the Monroe Doctrine was that the US would not involve itself in internal European wars. With WWI and WWII, that part sort of went out the window.

    Kimball Kinnison
  24. severian28 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2004
    star 5
    The Civil War is the most important event in the development in what we know to be the United States but the Monroe Doctrine is major, also.
  25. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    To be fair, I didn't say it was the most important event for the US, but for the Americas (i.e. North and South America).

    Kimball Kinnison
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