1) The single most important election I think has to have been the one that elected Lincoln, the result of which was the literally tearing of the nation in two.
2) Teddy Roosevelt’s election was critical because had he lost, the Plutocracy might never have been stopped.
3) Franklin Roosevelt was required to muddle our way out of the worst economic crisis the country has ever faced.
4) The election of Jefferson proved we could transition from one party to the other without the conflict that often happens around the world.
5) Reagan meant the end of the stain of Nixon and Watergate and a rebirth of the nation as a whole. His economics was Voodoo and he is revered in Conservative circles, but really was a moderate with a love of this country not equaled by many. He would not stand a chance in the current TEA Party-controlled Republican Party.
6) As repugnant as this is, Grant’s election marked the beginning of the end of Reconstruction, and had we not chosen him, the abuses probably would have been greater than they were.
7) I would even place the 2008 election above this one because of the dire circumstance the country was then in, which in many ways was worse than when FDR took office. It also signaled the birth and rise of the TEA Party and no matter what you think of them—love ’em or hate ’em—they have been and probably will be a force for a time. Without a doubt, they have taken the Republican Party do far to the right as to threaten its very existence.
Where you put this election in with the rest is a matter of personal opinion (just like my ranking is my personal opinion).
I do not think either candidate can alter the normal 6 – 8 year economic cycle of the economy. It is beyond the control of, well, any person. The cycle goes on and has since the beginning, only interrupted by major events like the Revolutionary, Civil and two World Wars, the total collapse of the economy in 1928 and the collapse of the financial economy in 2008.
On foreign matters, I think any sitting President will make the same decisions on major issues even though they can and do have an effect on how we are viewed. The brilliancy of the Obama Foreign Policy is that he put us back into a good light after the debacle of the W. Bush policies.
Social issues—the basis for my vote this year—is the starkest divide. With the fuel provided by the TEA Party, the Republicans have veered into the nut zone, abandoning long held American Virtues and reinventing what the Constitution means.
Nowhere is this more evident than in personal matters. The way I was taught was that your freedom extends to the tip of my nose, that unless it affects me personally, I have no right to tell you what to do. The current trend is for Republicans to get in the bedroom and sexual lives of people. This is appalling to me.
The country will survive a second Obama term, no matter what the far right says. And it will survive a Romney Presidency if that is what happens. To me a Romney win means loss of personal choices and less equal treatment of many groups that do not align with the new far right Republican mores.
This thinking was summed up very well in the movie White Palace. In the movie, Nora an older blue collar worker—basically white trash—and her younger wealthy boyfriend (with whom all she has in common is her bed) go to his family’s Thanksgiving Dinner, presided over by a.conservative patriarch. The discussion turns to politics and Nora, has had enough and, well. . .let’s let the speak for themselves:
Patriarch: I tell you, those guys will be lucky…if they come off any better than Nixon.Nora: I don't know. They seem like pretty nice guys to me.
Patriarch: You can’t be serious.
Other people talkPatriarch: let me just say this. That is precisely the kind of attitude that's landed this country in the mess that it's in today. I don't know if you have any children or not, but if you do, and they inherit a lifetime of crippling debt, then I'm not o sure they'll be such nice guys anymore. . . I'm talking about people, folks, who are unmitigated tragedies for the working class. Nora: Mister, I am working class. And what the hell do you know about it anyway? It doesn't look to me like you've been missing many meals. It doesn't make any difference to me... who's in the goddamn White House. Merle Haggard could be made president, and I'll be in Shit City. I'll still be choking on burger grease. I'll still be busting my hump for the minimum fucking wage and Betty here [their servant]... she'll be serving you turkey... for----bucks a day, right? Excuse me. I'm going home.
A lot of truth—too much truth—in that exchange.
The social differences between our two candidates are extreme and polarizing. Do you want equal rights for all or is it acceptable to discriminate based on whom someone loves? Do you believe in freedom of religion or freedom of religion so long as it is Christian?
To me a Romney win will lead us back to the 1950’s when it was acceptable to discriminate based on religion, race, social status, gender and sexual orientation. Yes, we have moved away from this and yes, the society is different now than it was.
And while it was never the way the Republicans remember it, we can try to get there anyway. The country will survive, but will we like what it looks like? To me, this is what the election is about. Not the economy or foreign policy, but who we are as a people.
The picture is of Nora and Max from WHite Palace and is from here.
The script selection is from here