“Those who cannot remember the past”

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana 
Are we “condemned to repeat” 1912 in 2016?

The following is excerpted from:
History Now: American History Online THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE PROGRESSIVE ERA The Spectacles of 1912 by Patricia O’Toole

The presidential election year of 1912 began with one unprecedented spectacle, ended with another. Theodore Roosevelt stunned the country by challenging President William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. As president, he had charted a politically progressive course, but under Taft, his chosen successor, the ship of state had been drifting further and further to the right. Many of TR’s environmental gains had been rolled back, Primaries were still a novelty, and 1912 was the first year they played a significant role in presidential politics. A dozen states were holding primaries, and there were 362 Republican delegates at stake. … he sprinted to an impressive finish, beating Taft 278 to 48.
But in the thirty-six states without primaries, the bosses still called most of the shots, … Once TR saw that he could not win, he hired a hall, strode to center stage, … The Republicans had stolen the convention, he said, … . He would have nothing more to do with them.  …  a brand-new party, created on the spot. … the National Progressive Party, … better known as the Bull Moose Party … were enthusiastic and wildly energetic but by no means united, except in their attraction to TR.
TR got his fractious followers to coalesce around a two-step agenda. First they had to rescue the country from the “invisible government” of Washington—the special interests who had forged an “unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics.” Then they could work to make government “an agency of human welfare.” … that was the Bull Moose platform boiled down to a phrase.  The platform was a generation ahead of its time in calling for a minimum wage, social security, federal regulation of stock offerings, and full disclosure of corporate finances. … Roosevelt was a confirmed nationalist, convinced that the complexities of industrial society required a strong central government because no other entity had enough power to stand up to Big Business and Big Finance. … wages for American workers … had not kept pace with consumer prices or with factory owners’ profits. Wilson promised an immediate overhaul. Roosevelt, … proposed gradual reform … The vote of 1912 looked a lot like the vote of 1992, when Ross Perot’s third-party run deprived Bill Clinton of a popular majority but gave him a victory, with 43 percent of the vote. Wilson’s share was 42 percent. Roosevelt finished with 27 percent, Taft with 23 percent, Debs with 6 percent. … The Bull Moose Party collapsed in the midterm elections of 1914 and died in 1916, but the ideals that TR and the Progressives articulated in 1912 lived on in American politics for decades. Their influence can be seen in Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Many of the Progressives’ ideas had been proposed by candidates in previous elections, but Roosevelt deserves credit for synthesizing them in a grand vision of the role that the national government could play in furthering equality. He also engaged Americans in one of the most serious conversations they had ever had about who they were as a nation, and what they might become.
History Now: American History Online THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE PROGRESSIVE ERA The Spectacles of 1912 by Patricia O’Toole

Or Are we “condemned to repeat” 1930 -’33 Germany?
From The History Place by Philip Gavin
In Germany  in 1930 poverty, and political instability were rampant. The indecisive, self-serving nature of politicians paralyzed government. The people got nothing but indecision, ineffective government, millions unemployed, homelessness and starvation. Hitler offered vague promises but  avoided  details and used simple catchphrases, repeated over and over at his carefully staged events  and played on the emotions of the audience. He offered  work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; and restoration of German glory making Germany strong again.  He would tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews. In the elections on September 14, 1930 the Nazis received eighteen percent of the total vote and went from the smallest to the second largest political party in Germany.  Money flowed in. Industrialists saw the Nazis as the wave of the future. They gave to Hitler hoping to get favors when he came to power.  In the presidential election held on March 13, 1932, Hitler got 30%,  Hindenburg got 49%. In the runoff on April 10, 1932,  Hitler got 36%, and Hindenburg 53%,

In the July 31st, (1932) elections  the Nazis got 37% of the votes. Then  on September 12, the Reichstag was again dissolved and new elections called. The Nazis lost  thirty four seats in the Reichstag.  On November 17, Chancellor Papen told President Hindenburg he was unable to form a government and resigned.  The country’s most influential industrialists, bankers, and business leaders sent a petition to President Hindenburg asking him to appoint Hitler as chancellor.  Hindenburg  ended his hesitation and decided to appoint Adolf Hitler as the next Chancellor of Germany.  Hitler presided over a cabinet of 11 ministers, with only 3 Nazis, (including himself.)  Former General Erich Ludendorff, who had once supported Hitler  sent a telegram to President Hindenburg:  “By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action,”

(Note that Hitler and the Nazis never got even 40% of the popular vote.)

  • First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out —
    because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out —
    because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —
    because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
    because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me —
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.
  •  Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller