So, it turns out that I need to learn my U.S. History a little bit better. I was sitting around the other day when I thought that I had made a brilliant hypothesis, that it was the habit of the Democratic Party to elect former Senators and the habit of the Republican Party to elect former Governors. It’s one of those “facts” that rings true when you hear it, but in actuality, is completely and utterly false.
It didn’t take me long to find the first problem with the above theory: Bill Clinton, our President throughout much of the nineties (1992 to 2000, to be exact), was the governor of Arkansas before being elected to the office. Not exactly where you would expect a democratic POTUS to come from, but then, this was probably common knowledge that I simply forgot in the formation of my (false) theory.
Let me stop here and say that, no, this post isn’t the response to me stating the above hypothesis in a debate and getting thoroughly thrashed for it. Rather, it was a thought that occurred to me which I then proceeded to see how true it was. It turns out, not very.
The last 10 Democratic Presidents follow, with their positions before the Presidency listed beside them. Essentially, this is a list of what their business cards would have looked like before becoming President, in reverse chronological order:
- Barack Obama, U.S. Senator
- Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas
- Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia
- Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice President
- John F. Kennedy, U.S. Senator
- Harry S. Truman, Vice President
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, Governor of New York
- Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New Jersey
- Grover Cleveland, Governor of New York
- Andrew Johnson, Vice President
So, breaking that down, we have exactly 2 former U.S. Senators in the group, along with 3 Vice Presidents and 5 former governors. Let’s take a look at the last 10 Republican Presidents:
- George W. Bush, Governor of Texas
- George H.W. Bush, Vice President
- Ronald Reagan, Governor of California
- Gerald Ford, Vice President
- Richard Nixon, Vice President
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander Europe
- Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce
- Calvin Coolidge, Vice President
- Warren G. Harding, U.S. Senator
- William Howard Taft, Secretary of War
Here we have 2 former governors, 1 military figure, 2 cabinet secretaries, 1 U.S. Senator, and 4 Vice Presidents. If anything, I was more wrong about Republicans than Democrats.
One thing that I would point out, though, is that we could make the statement that Republicans have more experience getting a previously non-elected official into the White House. All of the Democrats last 10 candidates, after all, previously held elected positions. 3 out of the past 10 Republican Presidents, however, previously had political positions which were appointed rather than elected. Does this mean anything? Probably not, other than perhaps the RNC shouldn’t be scoffed at when they decide to go for those who have never held an elected office. They’ve pulled that off just fine in the past.
I suppose this could be seen as arguable, of course. It depends on whether you define Vice President as an elected or appointed position. I personally see it as elected, because the Vice President is selected by the President, and the two then run together for both offices. So, by choosing a President, the voters also are choosing a Vice President. If we go with the supposition that a Vice President is appointed, however, the Republicans still show much more experience than the Democrats, with 7 out of 10 of their past Presidents being from non-elected positions compared to just 3 out of 10 for Democrats.
Just a bit of trivia for everybody. Consider it a palate cleanser of knowledge after several months of being fed lies and emotional appeals.