Many of us can recall the fiasco that was the 2000 Presidential election. From the mistakes made in Florida, to actions of the media and the court cases that followed afterwards. With Election Day upon us once again, a dead heat between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney has gripped the nation. As of today the election is a horse race, the chances for both the incumbent and candidate are equal. But like any close election talks of fraud, cheating, scandals and all other kinds of trickery are on the tongues of every person in the country. But what most people don't know is this is nothing new to History, and oddly enough the same swing state that changed the 2000 election and has the possibility of doing the same today, Florida. The Election of 1876, which most of us probably never heard of, but it shows how the political landscape has not changed in our nation over the last 136 years and how politics and politicians are more or less in the same mindset.
The election was dead even and no clear winner was in sight that November of 1876. The race between future President Rutherford B. Hayes and Governor Samuel J. Tilden would eventually go on to become and is still the most disputed Presidential Election in American History. As Election Day 1876 drew to an end Tilden had a 20 vote lead in the Electoral College, all that was left to do was pop the champagne and welcome in President Tilden...but wait. Those missing 20 votes were made up from the states of Louisiana, South Carolina and the Sunshine State, Florida. The three states votes were already in dispute and both candidates filed charges and counter suits before the dust from the election had even cleared. The issue was so out of control Congress stepped in and created a special board of inquiry better known today as an Electoral Commission to settle the dispute. It was clear that Tilden clearly won the popular vote and was pretty close to winning the Electoral College. But after review it was clear that Hayes would carry both Louisiana, with 8 Electoral votes & South Carolina and its 7 votes. This put the election at Hayes 187- Tilden 184 with all eyes now focusing on the state of Florida as it did in 2000 and possibly tonight. But this is where the story gets fishy and why it is still debated today amongst historians.
So Florida is the deciding state in the election. Its, then, 4 votes would cement the victory for Hayes or push Tilden into the White House. The Florida Electoral Commission then contacted Tilden. Knowing that Louisiana and South Carolina were in Hayes' column the commission made the Tilden campaign an offer they shouldn't have refused. The offer was to make sure Florida's votes would never end up in Hayes' favor. What would Tilden have to do for such a favor? Well just pay the commission a miserly $200, that's all. But the ever confident Tilden refused the offer, assured that he wouldn't need the favor and that under the watchful eyes of the Federal Electoral Commission no such thing would work in his favor. Yet as we know now, there was never a President Tilden, and Florida's votes went to Hayes.
So Hayes becomes President, the Electoral Commission & Electoral College trumped the popular vote. Now nothing against President Hayes and his Presidency, but it can be seen that the Electoral College really mucks up the waters of our Presidential Elections. The Electoral College was created well before the establishment of political parties and has been playing catch up ever since. But do we really need it? Again, I am not one for questioning the Founding Fathers but the Electoral College just seems a bit out dated. It does not follow the basis for a democratic system and it is a violation of political equality for both candidates and voters. The College seems to manipulate how the President is elected. In every other election, Gubernatorial, Senatorial, Congressional, Mayoral and so on, hell even in the most basic elections, Grade School Class President we teach our youth about the power of elections, but then why is it that when it comes time to electing the President of the United States we use this system? The Electoral College dropped the ball in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. Yes, there is a big gap between 1888 and the year 2000, but the issues remain the same. We see how a popularly elected candidate loses because of the Electoral College and its manipulation of representation. Since the founding of this nation electoral votes have changed throughout each states history, thus changing the electoral map every so many years, so if something is every changing whey rely on it? This election is surely one of the most heated in resent history. It is a time in our nations history not seen since perhaps the Civil War. The ideals, visions and concepts for our nation are split based on party alliances, religious views, how much money is in your bank account and so on. Yet no one is focused on our nation and it's survival. In 1776 the Founders set for an experiment in democracy which today we are quicken its failure. Tonight, I truly hope no matter who wins that the United States and its citizenry is their number one priority. As for the Electoral College it may be time for it to ride off into the sunset, but that is a debate for another time.