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2024 – Will It Be a William Jennings Bryan Threepeat?

"William Jennings Bryan" loses another one (

Will the 2024 presidential election provide an opportunity for the outgoing President for a threepeat? In the history of the two-party system, few people have been presidential candidates three times. Henry Clay was during the first half of the 19th century but both before and after the Second Party system dominated. Franklin Roosevelt ran four times, all successfully. But the fate of the three-time candidates varied.


When it comes to three-time candidates, William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic Party nominee for President, set the standard.

In 1896, received 46.7% of the vote.
In 1900, with Adlai Stevenson I as his running mate, he received 45.5% of the vote.
In 1908, he received 43% of the vote.

Bryan thus has the distinction of receiving under 50% on the popular vote on three occasions and being a three-time loser, an American record in the two-party system.

Previously Grover Cleveland held the record. He received 48.9% in 1884 when he won, 48.6% in 1888 when he lost to Benjamin Harrison who had received fewer votes, and 46% in 1892 when he won in a three-way race and with Adlai Stevenson I as his running mate. So in contrast to Bryan, he won two of the three times he ran and a third-party candidate skewed the totals.

Richard Nixon is the remaining three-time candidate. He twice received under 50% of the vote, first with 49.6% in 1960 to John Kennedy when he lost and then with 43.4% in 1968 when he won against Hubert Humphrey with George Wallace as the third-party candidate. He also ran for third time in 1972 and won with 60.7%, a remarkably high number. Of course, he didn’t finish that term.

Since then, no person has been a major party candidate three times.

At this point in time, it seems unlikely that the three living two-time presidents will run again. That means one and only one person has a chance to join the exclusive club. He could join Bryan as failing to reach 50% of the popular vote all three times. He could join Cleveland or Nixon as being a two-time winner and also receiving under 50% of the popular vote twice or on all three occasions as Bryan had.


Another possibility is to quit now and not even try to be a three-time candidate. He still would join a select presidential group.

Woodrow Wilson won twice with under 50% in 1912 and 1916 with Teddy Roosevelt providing formidable third-party opposition in 1912.

Thomas Dewey lost twice with under 50% of the vote, first to Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 with 45.9% of the vote and then to Harry Truman in 1948 with 45.1%

Adlai Stevenson II lost twice with 44.3% in 1952 to Dwight Eisenhower and then again in 1956 with 42%. He sought but did not win the 1960 nomination.

Since then no major party candidate has received under 50% of the vote twice until the current President who won with 46.1% in 2016, less than the loser Mitt Romney had received in 2012, and lost in 2020 with 46.8%, a small improvement.

Stevenson presents another possibility: to try for a third-time nomination and fail to receive it. If he tried in 2024 and failed, there always would be the option of running as a third-party candidate.

I present this information because as everybody knows, the outgoing President is an avid American historian. He knew that his foe in 2020 was the worst presidential candidate in American history. He knew that the 2012 Republican candidate was the worst presidential candidate in American history before that. He knew that the 2016 Democratic candidate was the worst Secretary of State in American history. He knew that NAFTA was the worst trade agreement in American history. He knew that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican when hardly anybody knew that. And he was the first to realize that George Washington secured the airports thus paving the way to American victory in the American Revolution.

He certainly has more of an historical sense than his predecessor! So it is only natural that he would want to be in the Presidential Loser Hall of Fame by coming in under 50% for the third time.


There has been a lot of talk about the percentage of Trumpicans who accept the scam that the election was rigged. Numbers like 70% have been bandied about from polls and we all know how accurate the polls are. But this number is deceptive. There is a difference between “wouldn’t it be swell if your candidate really won” and “let’s overthrow the government.” We have had the opportunity in Belarus and in Trump-hole countries to see how people can take to the streets when they think an election has been stolen from them. So far, at least, nothing remotely comparable has happened here.

– There was a demonstration with the chant “Fox Sucks” when Fox correctly but early called Arizona for Joe Biden.
– There was a small show of force in Washington on behalf of the Sore Loser but nothing significant.
– There have been big rallies in Georgia by Trumpicans against the Republican state officials and even calling for Trumpicans not to vote in the upcoming Senate elections.

I am not sure if any of these actions count as a groundswell to reverse the rigged election. Think back to what he prophesied in March, 2019:

I have the support of the police, the support of the military,
the support of the Bikers for Trump⸺I have tough people,
but they don’t play tough until they go to a certain point,
and then it would be very bad, very bad.

Have you seen the Bikers for Trump turnout to stop the steal? Maybe they learned their lesson from South Dakota.  Now the Arizona GOP has thrown down the gauntlet.

“I am willing to give my life for this fight,” tweeted Ali Alexander, an organizer of the movement.

“You’re asking people to die for this conspiracy theory? What in the living hell is wrong with you people?” tweeted Arizona state senator Martín Quezada.

“I agree. This is the hill to die on,” one respondent said. “IM WILLING TO GIVE MY LIFE,” wrote another.

Various individuals like past-his-prime Dobbs, no-integrity Flynn, and the “Hugo Chavez” lawyer have called for drastic action worthy of Seven Days in May. It doesn’t look like any of these actions will amount to anything. After all, why fight for victory in the Georgia Senate elections if Vice President Mike Pence will cast the deciding vote in the second administration promised by Mike Pompeo?


Remember Mia “Didn’t feel the” Love? Remember how he cheered when she was defeated in her re-election bid in 2018? Cleansing the Party of disloyal traitors was more important than holding the House.

Remember Jeff Flake who stepped down as Senator in Arizona? Now Arizona has two Democratic Senators putting control of the House at risk. Cleansing the Party of disloyal traitors was more important than holding the Senate.

Remember how much fun it was ridiculing John McCain? Now Arizona voted Democratic for President for the first time since the Creation.

Loyalty to one person trumps all other considerations. That means it is open season now on any Republicans who were loyal to the law and not to him. They are RINOs says the longtime fake Democrat and Clinton supporter. It seems that on the state level there are people who have not yet sold their soul as the Republican Senators excluding Romney have. Even people who have ambitions of their own still cower before the immature child. The elections have shown that there still are Republicans at the state level meaning people who are ready to move forward once the Sore Loser leaves the stage.


The question now for Republicans is do they want their party back? Sarah Palin called on Republicans in 2008 to take back their country. It seems quite likely that for all the talk about demography being destiny, the Democrats have maxed out on identity politics. There is a limit as to how many votes they can receive with a motto of “Defund the Police.” The progressive wing will be a constant headache for Joe Biden for the next four years. There is an ample opportunity for Republicans to get back in the Presidential game if they can dump the Sore Loser for an adult who can tell the truth and is not drowning in lawsuits due to his criminal life.

On the other hand, maybe Republicans will fail to take back their party, the Trumpicans will prevail, and William Jennings Bryan will have company as a three-time presidential candidate who never received 50% of the popular vote.

Empire State Presidential Elections (2016): A Day in Infamy

Pearl Harbor: The Original Day in Infamy

New York has not always been the Empire State. When the United States was first constituted, the nation’s first capital was New York City (meaning Manhattan). During the American Revolution, Washington spent more time in this state than in any other. New York, the city that he had abandoned, remained an elusive target even though physically fixed. He constantly hovered in the vicinity hoping to be able to dislodge the British but he never succeeded in doing so. Now he returned to the city as president of the country.

Philadelphia was still the premier city of the land. It remained so for a few more decades but then the torch was passed to a new powerhouse. New York became the Empire State during the 1820s. One might associate the timing with the completion of the Erie Canal (the bicentennial of its construction begins in 2017). However even before, the handwriting was on the wall for all to see. Immigrants poured into the state from overseas and from New England. Emblematic of the change was Tom Cole’s relocation from Philadelphia to Manhattan and the birth of the nation’s first art form which was named after the Hudson River.

As an emerging political power, the Empire State immediately became involved in presidential elections. The Virginia Dynasty had reached its end. The jockeying for position in the 1824 election witnessed the transition from the first party system of Federalists and Republicans to the second party system of Whigs and Democrats. Donald Ratcliffe’s new book, One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson and 1824’s Five-Horse Race was the topic of a session at the annual conference of the Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) on July 24 which I attended.

In hindsight, that election served as a preview of the 1828 election. The winning ticket then consisted of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Van Buren succeeded Jackson as president taking office in 1837, the first New Yorker to become president of the United States. Jackson and Van Buren formed the first diverse ticket for the white male voters of early American history. Jackson was Scotch-Irish and Van Buren was Dutch. Based on the racial classification system today, they both would be classified as dead white men. However, in their world, they represented two constituencies not previously in national office. They lived in a world where people knew if they were German Palatines, Scotch-Irish, French Huguenots, Congregational English, Anglican English, and so on. Together, Jackson and Van Buren shattered the Virginia/Massachusetts dominance of the presidency.

Prior to be coming president Van Buren served as governor of New York. His lived at his home in Kinderhook, Columbia County, for 21 years and was buried in the Dutch Reform Church cemetery nearby. His home is now a National Park Service historic site.

The Dutch ancestry continued with two famous and distantly-related Empire State presidents, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. These two well-known luminaries need no introduction for their impact on American history. Both Roosevelts served as New York State governors before becoming president as did the less well-known Grover Cleveland. There are three National Park Service sites for Teddy in New York: his birth place in New York City, his home for decades in Long Island, and the Buffalo site where he was unexpectedly inaugurated following the assassination of McKinley. Franklin and his wife Eleanor have homes, cottages, and the first presidential  library in Hyde Park where he grew up and was a local historian.

It seemed as if Roosevelt would be succeeded in the next presidential election after his death by another New York State governor. Millions of people went to sleep on election night thinking that Thomas E. Dewey had defeated Harry Truman generating one of the most famous newspaper headlines in American history. His defeat in 1948 was his second one. In the 1944 election, two New Yorkers from Dutchess County, the current governor and the former governor, squared off against each other, the only time such an event occurred in American history.

The 1944 election represented the height of Empire State presidential elections. Another prominent New York State governor, Nelson Rockefeller, repeatedly sought the nomination without ever attaining it. Because of fluke circumstances probably never to be repeated, he did end up becoming Vice President under Gerald Ford. Rockefeller’s home never became a National Park Service historic site but the Rockefeller-initiated Historic Hudson Valley operates his Kykuit estate.

Governor Mario Cuomo, the famed Hamlet on the Hudson, appeared on the brink of declaring his candidacy on multiple occasions but never announced. If elected he would have become the first Italian and Ellis Island president. To date their never has been either.

Governor Elliott Sptitzer had ambitions of becoming the first Jewish and Ellis Island president but that vision was abruptly curtailed. As it turn out, Brooklyn-raised Bernie Sanders was the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary in a national party election even though the party establishment actively worked against him.

Governor Andy Cuomo has ambitions to become president but the chance to even seek the nomination seems unlikely. The opportunity for a white ethnic whose ancestors arrived at Ellis Island seems to have come and gone without it ever happening. The best way for someone of Italian ancestry becoming president appears to be if that person arrived not via Ellis Island but on a jet from Latin America where the ancestors first had migrated.

This brief survey brings us to the election of 2016 where once again there are two legal residents of New York State running for president of the United States. These two candidates share much in common. Neither one ever was governor of the state as were the previous New York presidential candidates. In fact neither one has ever held any political office of executive power in New York or anywhere else: never a mayor, never a town supervisor, never a county executive. Now in the Medicare years of their lives, for the first time, suddenly they want the buck to stop with them with the promise that it won’t be bankruptcy #8 or #18 or #118 or from Wall Street. It’s not as if they won D-Day or rescued the Winter Olympics either. They share a lack of experience in real-world executive political decision-making. Let’s gamble.

The National Park Service will be hard-pressed to select a house or home for winner. The Democratic candidate has no real home. She has no ties to Illinois and her youth and no ties to Arkansas which was a stopover on the way to where she really wanted to live. At present, she has a home in Chappaqua for legal purposes so she can return to the beltway which is the only place she ever wanted to live. From 1993 to 2025, unlike George Washington from 1775 to 1783, she will have spent more time in Washington than New York by far. In fact, she will have spent such little time living in New York she probably doesn’t even have to pay New York State income tax even for speeches given in the same neighborhood where Washington presided. By default, the National Park Service may have to operate the infrequently used house best known for hosting a server that exposed her to be a recklessly careless liar where she was tested and failed at crisis management. As the cherry tree is for George Washington and the log cabin is for Abraham Lincoln, so the server will become the symbol of the woman who never tried to achieve on her own. Everyone will take a selfie there. That should be some NPS tour.

Our two Empire State presidential candidates share even more in common.

* They have the highest unfavorables of any two candidates in American history.
* They are the most disrespected by people of their own parties.
* They aren’t remotely capable of being the nation’s comfiter in-chief.
* They aren’t remotely capable of healing the wounds that divide us.
* They aren’t remotely capable of rising to the occasion.

NYT (8/4/16): “Allies [of the Democratic candidate] remain skittish and say that by many measures, Mrs. Clinton is a weak candidate with a muddled message who faces an electorate in which a majority of voters do not trust or like her. But Mr. Trump’s inability to seize on his own party’s convention and emerge a more disciplined candidate has eased early concerns that he could appeal to a broader electorate in the fall…[A political consultant] has pointed out that no candidate has come out of a convention with unfavorable ratings as high as Mrs. Clinton’s and gone on to win the White House. But unlike most candidates, Mrs. Clinton faces a fall contest against an opponent who is even more disliked.

Teaching this election will be a nightmare future teachers will try to avoid.

Our two Empire State presidential candidates are not identical. Since everything you need to know you can learn from Star Trek, it is appropriate to turn there for insight. In the episode, the Children Shall Lead, the children on an outpost are rendered orphans but display no trauma over the horror of losing their parents. The cause is a beast called “Angel” by them and named Gorgan. The richly-costumed sleekly-haired human-looking monster is skilled in exploiting their   pain to service his gain. He dominates them and in the ways of science fiction takes control of the Starship Enterprise.

Not to worry. Kirk’s dedication to the spirit of Star Trek prevails. His hero and role model is, after all, Abraham Lincoln. He takes back his ship. He takes back his crew. He returns the Enterprise to its rightful path. He defeats the monstrosity that has temporarily commandeered them. In the final showdown between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, Kirk calls on the deceived children to see the ugliness of the monster who led them astray. He tells them:

Without you children he’s nothing.
The evil remains within him.
Look how ugly he really is.
Look at him and don’t be afraid.

With each phrase, the children see more and more of the truth and the image of the monster becomes uglier and uglier. In the end, Gorgan is revealed as the grotesque monster he always was underneath his superficial exterior. As befitting his debased nature, when exposed for the disgusting ugly incarnation of evil that he is, his parting words to his former admirers who now spurn him are:

Death to you all!
Death to you all!
Death to you all!

Who knew this story set in the 23rd century really was about 21st? What happens if the party of Lincoln seeks to take back its party from ugliness? What happens if non-elite heterosexual white males who love their country and are in pain catch on that they are being slicked, conned, hustled, flim-flammed, bamboozled and lied to by a staggeringly ignorant narcissist who just as easily would rip them off at his phony university for their desire to live the American Dream as he would for their vote?

Consider now the words of the Democrat/Republican Roosevelts from the time when the Empire State produced presidents who were giants:

We stand at Armageddon…
And have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Contrast those words of American history with the teeny-tinies today:

It’s midnight in America.
Jabber, jabber, jabber, I am a woman. Jabber, jabber, jabber, I am a victim. Jabber, jabber, jabber, it’s my turn now. Jabber, jabber, jabber ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

The election between a junior high-school smart-aleck and a high-school good-little mean girl guarantees that our next president will not be a thinking adult. For generations to come, Americans will have to explain how we allowed to occur this self-inflicted day of infamy.
NYT (8/3/16): “It all has left her [a voter] uncertain of which candidate, if any to support.

“No. Next question.”
“I’m really praying that between now and November there’s some clarity, that somebody shows some leadership.

The Final Balloon Drop