Home / General / American Shitshows: The Presidential Election of 1912

American Shitshows: The Presidential Election of 1912


My original election shitshow post was supposed to be followed up a few hours later with a second part consisting of five more entries that would happily culminate with a Clinton victory. I stopped writing, however, as soon as the numbers in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina began looking worrisome. Soon after, I stopped thinking rationally and simply watched the unraveling horror with my dumbfounded children. Now that I am somewhat able to write sentences again, I will continue posting about election shitshows of the past until I grow sick of the gimmick. Also, fuck this fucking shit.


Following the example set by the Democrats a half century earlier, the Republicans in 1912 decided to amputate the hindmost segment of its human centipede and see if both organisms might survive.

They did not.

Instead, the party’s delegates in Chicago divided their affections between two perfectly capable mustaches. Theodore Roosevelt, having returned to national politics after several years of strangling giraffes and fretting over the breeding habits of the barbarian races, won nine of 12 state primaries and arrived at the convention with a plurality of delegates, falling a mere five shy of the majority he would need to stop Taft and the party stalwarts who bore him aloft, strenuously, on the sedan chair of sound currency and sensible tariff policy.

Embittered, Roosevelt’s supporters bolted the convention and formed a third party in opposition to the incumbent. The Progressive Party was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party, largely because Roosevelt, misunderstanding the rules of an emerging parlor game, had fucked, married, and killed one of each. With clean consciences and sturdy hymns to inspire them, Progressives campaigned on a promise to rid the nation of corporate corruption, extend basic social insurance to working people, let the lady folk vote, and return bare-knuckle boxing to its rightful place at the center of American sporting life.

In the end, however, the Republican divide only cleared the way for the Democrats to elect the first Southern president since Southern presidents were legally permitted to own black people. Woodrow Wilson defeated a beard and three mustaches and won the nomination based on the promise to remain clean shaven and create a trust fund for libertarian conspiracy theories by establishing the Federal Reserve. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously for the office, so much so that when someone inevitably shot him in the chest a month before the election, he simply removed the bullet and used it to bring down a passing hippo before departing the stage in search of a good surgeon. Buoyed by Roosevelt’s energetic tirades, the Progressives were nevertheless dragged down by vice presidential candidate Hiram Johnson, who could never quite explain his preference for needlessly wide, short ties. Meantime, Taft lingered in Washington, spending his days bathing quietly and drawing giant penises on photographs of Roosevelt, congratulating himself privately for doing all he could to keep most species of deadly bacteria from the nation’s supply of canned pork.

As Woodrow Wilson coasted to victory, the Socialist Party earned its highest popular vote percentage ever in an American Presidential election. Although Eugene Debs did not take a single electoral vote that year, his supporters were totally fucking stoked about getting those federal matching funds and looked forward to breaking the fake-progressive duopoly forever.

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  • Fucking brilliant.

    • ThrottleJockey


  • I badly needed a good laugh after this horrible week. This definitely did the trick. Thanks.

  • CaptainBringdown

    These shitshow posts and enormous amounts of alcohol have been the only things keeping me sane this week.

  • The Dark God of Time

    Hiram Johnson enshrined the referendum, the recall, and the initiative into the California Constitution with the expressed goal of making it impossible for a Democrat to be elected as Governor. He drove the grizzly bear in California in to extinction by 1922.

    Not many people know this, but the Governor was a terrific dancer.

  • Morbo

    needlessly wide, short ties

    Well, we won’t need to worry about that.

    • It’s to compensate for his unusually short fingers

      Cravat’s supposed to point down to accentuate the genitals.

  • Fighting Words

    Well, Robert Vaughn died today. It’s just been a really bad year.


    • (((Hogan)))

      Ah shit.

  • Amadan

    Christ but ye lot are really hurting.

    This is one of my favourites for when things dark. There’s still good things out there, and there will be more again.

  • JL

    Since this is the most recent post at the moment, I’ll post here. Just wanted to let people know that I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, after a friend who reads here but doesn’t comment said that there were people asking about me here. I’ve been avoiding all but a few parts of the political Internet because I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with the left-wing circular firing squads that seem to be all over the place.

    I was at a Wilderness First Responder training for eight days, just got back yesterday. I made a hundred GOTV phone bank calls during the evenings after class, mostly to Florida. I was really glad that none of my classmates there, and none of the staff, were Trump supporters.

    I hear that someone asked for my take on the anti-Trump protests? I missed the day-after ones because I was still in the White Mountains, but they seem like a generally good idea – getting people mobilized and connecting with each other, warning city and state governments that there would be a lot of disruption if they were to go in a Trumpist direction, sending messages that the community won’t tolerate Trumpist racism/xenophobia/transphobia/Islamophobia/anti-Semitism, getting people quickly into the habit of acting on their anger and sadness. But I also haven’t been to them since I missed the one here.

    I’ve been impressed with and interested in how many people I know who have good or generally good politics but have mostly stuck with voting, talking on Facebook about politics, and signing the occasional petition, have contacted me wanting help in finding activist organizations and niches to start working with. Suddenly it seems like half the non-activists I know want to become activists. It’s a sign of hope and I have been really happy to talk to people about how to do that.

    I’ll be around, but possibly more sporadically for a while. Or sticking to (or sticking away from) certain kinds of threads.

    • Anna in PDX

      Thanks for updating us! How was wilderness training?

      • JL

        It was excellent, though I mentioned in the feedback form that while I’m sure they had logistical reasons for scheduling as they did, having the class timed such that the big mock rescue and the written and practical exams occurred in the two days after the election, was not really optimal.

    • Hob

      Right there with you on the lack of emotional capacity. I’m unlikely to be around here any time soon either.

      I wish I knew someone to contact for advice as your friends have been contacting you. I know lots of people around here who are, like me, “political” in the sense of having some idea what is going on and throwing some money to good causes and sometimes volunteering with very local things… and LOTS of people who know to express anger on Facebook… but not so much in the sense of doing anything else.

      • JL

        Remind me, where do you live? I might know of places to look.

        • Hob

          San Francisco.

          • JL

            Hmm. A few thoughts…

            Immigrant issues: California has a statewide immigrant/refugee political advocacy coalition, but being based in Los Angeles it’s not the most convenient for you. Maybe enough interested Bay Area folks could get some kind of expansion thing going. I suspect that there are a million immigrant justice groups in California that I’ve never heard of, and at the very least, the statewide coalition could point you to them.

            Trans issues: The Transgender Law Center is based in SF and sometimes needs volunteers.

            General civil liberties: The ACLU of Northern California appears to have a bunch of volunteer positions open at its office, and also appears to be organized into “chapters” of community members that are the ACLU’s eyes and ears on the ground.

            Protester rights: I have no idea if any street medic trainings are being run in the Bay Area. But you can train to be a legal observer who documents police behavior at protests for the National Lawyers Guild (you don’t have to be a lawyer to do that, and I can’t remember if you are).

            And if you are a lawyer, paralegal, law student, or just willing to work in a lawyer-centered group (does that cover 90% of the LGM commentariat?), it looks like the National Lawyers Guild of SF has a huge number of active committees working on issues that are going to be really salient in the next few years: http://www.nlgsf.org/committees

            LGBTQ (and other) issues: CUAV, which is in SF, supports the wellness of low-income LGBTQ people, especially those who are POC and/or immigrants, and runs an anti-violence program to help LGBTQ people who are experiencing or have experienced violence (sexual, domestic, hate-based (whether anti-LGBTQ hate or some other kind), police/state). It also does political coalition work, including on immigration and racial justice issues.

            Sexual violence: Go to centers dot rainn dot org – I’m not actually linking it because I don’t want to trigger the spam filter – to find the rape crisis centers nearest to you. The anti-sexual-violence sector runs to a large degree on volunteer labor.

            Abortion: Your local abortion clinics may have a clinic escort program, or you can check out ACCESS Women’s Health Justice in Oakland, which is your local abortion fund. If lobbying is more your thing, you certainly have a state or part-of-your-state NARAL affiliate.

  • mkadel

    Yeah, Eugene Debbs sucked.

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