February 17th

Helloooooo History People!

Welcome back to the place where history is happenin’ – or should I say, where it happened.

Today in history holds some intriguing stories. Let’s take a look at just a few:

1820: The Missouri Compromise is Passed in US Government

1904: The Famous Italian Opera Madame Butterfly made its opening debut.

And this week’s topic (because it’s actually pretty relevant and, as you know by now, I am SUCH a Hamilton musical fan):

The Election of 1800 – finally settled this day in 1801.

The U.S. presidential election of 1800 was one of the most significant events that had ever occurred in that very moment of history. This was the first U.S. election in which the transfer of political power was not preceded by violence or societal upheaval.

President John Adams sought a second term on the Federalist ticket, while opposed by several well-known individuals including Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr on the Democratic-Republican side of the ticket. Many people argued that Adams’ presidency was unsuccessful and oppressive (due to the Alien and Sedition Acts as well as various foreign policy decisions), including several influential figures in the House of Representatives (such as Alexander Hamilton). Because the likelihood of re-election was unfortunately very slim for the current president, the real fight within this election occurred between two members of the same party: Jefferson and Burr.

The two candidates were equally supportive of their party and its stances on social, economic, and ideological issues; however, their nearly equivalent likability (or lack thereof) yielded an almost unthinkable outcome: a tie within the electoral college.

It took some behind-closed-doors swindling of several members of the House of Representatives’ opinions to swing the necessary votes one way or the other (also involving Alexander Hamilton) to come to a conclusion about who would be the next president and vice president of the United States that election (a decision which was also influenced by Alexander Hamilton, who chose to support in his opinion, the lesser of two evils – Jefferson instead of
Burr). Hamilton’s influence proved to be enough to secure the win for Jefferson in this ridiculously close election.

This outcome led to the institution of separate portions of the ballot to be design
ated for the offices of president and vice president respectively to ensure that electoral votes for members of the same party would not be held against one another because of the fact that the members were actually running mates. The Twelfth Amendment signifies the legitimacy of this change in election structure.

Today, our generation has also just lived through one of the closest, most publicized, and surprising elections of all time, once again owing the results to the electoral college, a system whose usefulness has been debated for years. Many people have suggested that using the popular vote alone is the only way to ensure the longevity of democracy itself. But then again, others have argued that the popular vote does not guarantee that  the most qualified, “best choice” candidate will be chosen; this suggests that the general public is easily swayed and manipulated. Which in some cases I suppose is a valid assumption. How else would a plethora of consumer goods pushed by advertisers and marketers be so readily sold and purchased on such a large scale nationally?

Regardless, I feel that the citizens of the US should have a direct say in who their nation’s leader is, but the problem with democracy is the lack of the ability to motivate all participants to educate themselves on the candidates, or even the relevant issues at hand. At age 18, we citizens who decide to act can register to vote, but simply taking the initiative to go through the registration process is not enough. After the tiny rectangle of paper is received in the mail, yes, technically that certifies a person as a legal voter in the US. However, I believe that there are two types of voters: responsible and negligent.

A responsible voter is one who, once certified, does thorough research on the prospective candidates in local, state, or national elections in which he/she is legally able to participate. This doesn’t necessarily mean the individual has to become an expert on every issue to dive deep into the candidates’ personal lives. I simply mean to say that those who want to exercise their most basic right in American democracy, the right that countless lives have been sacrificed for over the time period of hundreds of years, should take the time to educate themselves on what their representatives have to say about what’s happening in the world.

Voting is one of the most exciting ways to exercise one’s right to free will, in my opinion. To live in a nation that openly promotes voicing your opinions, no matter the consequence, still amazes me everyday because, as we already know, not all places are like that. I do believe the electoral college system needs to be re-evaluated to better compensate for the public’s true opinion, but if that were to happen, I feel that it will be up to the people to take responsibility for their leaders. They must be willing to do the work, to educate themselves on the issues, and rationally form opinions that can be reflected in their choice of candidate for whatever office it is they might be voting for.

The most important part of democracy is accepting the responsibility that comes with being a citizen.

That’s all for now!

Quote of the Day:

“‘Git ‘r done!”

Larry the Cable Guy (Comedian, Birthday 1963)

 

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