Susan B Anthony’s grave-site gets extended hours; Women who “waited 96 years”; History’s great polling failures; History & importance of concession speeches; Exactly what is the Electoral College?; Is this a top five dirty election?

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I’m sure you’ve all seen the stories about people that leave “I Voted” stickers on the grave of Susan B. Anthony, but today the cemetery announced that they are going to keep the grave-site open for extended hours tomorrow so that people have more of a chance to visit her on what may turn out to be a rather historic day. It was 140 years ago that Anthony was arrested for voting in a presidential election. Think of that, man. Think of that.

NPR reports on a website that has been collecting the stories and sentiments of women that were born before the 19th amendment, asking them to share their feelings about being able to cast their votes for what may turn out to be our first female president. Wow. Great project! Here is the direct link to the I waited 96 years” website.

Of course the history-making moment is dependent on the polls being accurate in predicting a Hillary victory. But National Geographic reminds us today of “four of history’s worst political predictions.”

Tomorrow night someone is going to give a victory speech, and someone is going to give one of concession (or so we hope). But when did that tradition begin, and what is so important about it? Lily Rothman has a nice piece for Time in which she interviewed Scott Farris, author of Almost President, as well as  political theorist and historian Paul Corcoran.  The concession speech typically fits a formula, but serves a crucial purpose. The routine of encouraging the loser’s supporters to accept the results, has become fundamental to the peaceful transfer of power that makes the American system work. “Places that lack a formula for concession are the places where democracy tends to be fragile,” Rothman notes.  After studying every presidential concession, Corcoran names John McCain’s as the best ever because he acknowledged and praised the history that was made when Obama won. The speech was “in a class of its own,” says Corcoran. “He did the right thing. He did the hard thing.” It was indeed a memorable and classy speech. We will have to wait until tomorrow night to see if we get another such concession speech that performs its important function while also acknowledging the history of the moment.

Need a history lesson and explanation of the Electoral College and its purposes and problems? We’re History has gotten you covered.

I tell my students all the time that our elections have always been ugly, so they won’t buy the rhetoric of the talking heads on TV that always seem to claim that our elections are getting dirtier than ever. But let’s face it, this one has been pretty nasty. Time has another good piece which features an interview with the author of a book that explores all the dirtiest tricks and cheap-shots in our presidential elections. He has many interesting (and funny) historical anecdotes from previous elections, and concludes that this one will go down in the top five of our dirtiest elections (especially if there is no concession).

 

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