Today I read a fact that seemed almost too meme-ready to be true. Republicans can’t seem to win the presidency unless there’s a Bush or Nixon on the ticket.
The last Republican who didn’t have a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket was Herbert Hoover. Hoover, as you might recall from history class or from your grandparents, was pretty much an unmitigated disaster. He took much of the blame for exacerbating the Great Depression and like Republicans of today, he was viewed as insensitive and callous to those who suffered.
Hoover was against public assistance, like Republicans are now. He also a corporatist. He campaigned on something that sounds eerily like George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Hoover called it “kinder gentler capitalism.” Most importantly, like Bush, he called for a tax cut during the economic downtime, which made the Depression much worse.
The country had had enough of Republicanism until 1953, when Dwight D. Eisenhower took office. His Vice President was Richard M. Nixon. In many ways, Eisenhower was liberal in comparison to today’s GOP. Ironically, in many ways Richard Nixon was liberal in comparison to today’s GOP.
Eight years and two Democratic Presidents later, we got Richard Nixon and Watergate. Then it was Reagan/Bush, Bush Sr. and the next Republican was George W. Bush.
So far, at least, we don’t have a Nixon running for president but we do have a Bush and if history is any indication, he’s their only chance of winning, even if he ends up only on the VP ticket. As for Democrats, if history is an indication, the door’s wide open. We don’t always elect Vice Presidents, even of successful Presidents. The most recent example is Al Gore (okay, we did elect him, but not by a wide enough margin). Truthfully, only four Vice Presidents went right on to become President: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren and George Bush. Others were never elected at all or they waited a term or two.
The good news is that having a Bush on the ticket is not a guarantee. Bush Sr. lost in 1992. Hopefully, the country is Bush weary enough that Jeb!™ will suffer that fate.
Featured image via George Bush Presidential Library.