Imagine a presidential candidate using language so incendiary, so unorthodox for a person seeking such a prestigious office, that it catches the electorate off guard. But instead of repulsing voters, as the "play it safe" establishment assumes it will, it excites them, electrifies them, inspires them to go out and rally for their no-nonsense, plain speaking, tell-it-like-it-is guy. Think I'm talking about Donald Trump? Nope! I'm referring to Theodore Roosevelt.
The circumstances surrounding the 1912 presidential campaign eerily offer insight into what's going on now in 2016. It might even tell us who the next President will be. Who knew Teddy was so ahead of his time?
Now let's get a few things straight, there are stark differences between the political parties of 1912 and 2016. A Republican then would likely be a Democrat today, and you could argue the same could be said for Democrats. Even the process of nominating a person is different, as the primary system was a rarely used tool back then, leaving most nominees to gain support in backroom deals at the party's convention. With that said, principally there are similarities that could tell us a thing or two about what the hell is going on right now, and where it might lead.
The Republican Party was split in 1912, with the establishment feeling obliged to support the incredibly unpopular sitting President, William Howard Taft, while others went rogue (sorry Sarah Palin, not sure if you've copyrighted this word yet) and supported former President Roosevelt. The race was nasty, with Roosevelt winning Taft's home state of Ohio by using colorful (wink wink) language to paint Taft as a liar, calling him a "fathead" with "the brains of a guinea pig," -- sound like someone familiar?
Eventually Taft became the Republican nominee while Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate, which split the vote in the general election and gave the Presidency to a
racist professor from New Jersey, Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
OK, now how does this relate to 2016? Considering that Trump has all but secured the nomination, no matter what Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio say, there are clear comparisons between Roosevelt in 1912 and Trump today. He's a radical, he's using language we've never heard in a presidential election, and he's beating the establishment. But the big boys don't want Trump, even going so far as to indicate they won't support him if he's the nominee. If that's the case, then could a Cruz or Rubio-or maybe a Bush or Kasich, for that matter-mount a conservative third party Independent run? Yes, easily.
What about a brokered convention? That could happen too, and if Trump wins the most pledged delegates (as he will), but gets bumped by the party, you better believe he'll run as an Independent. In either case, a third party run or a brokered convention, Republicans are looking at a split base going into the general election.
There have been third party candidates that have split votes in the past (how you doin Ross Perot and Ralph Nader?!), but none like in 1912. Then, as now, the Republican Party is in turmoil. The roots of this current situation have been taking shape for years, with the growth of the Tea Party juxtaposed against back to back moderate on the down-low Republican nominees in 2008 and 2012. Sure, Democrats are split too, but nothing as catastrophic as on the Republican side.
If the Republican Party can't come together and figure themselves out, we're looking at a chaotic next few months. If 1912 is any indicator of what could potentially happen, and it principally is, Republicans better prepare themselves for a President Clinton or Sanders.