With three Republican Presidential candidates for 2016 being “non politicians”, people who have never served in a government position on the city, state or national level, the issue arises: have there been any other such candidates in the past?
It turns out that we have had several military generals who never served in a civilian position, that could qualify as “non politicians”.
This includes the following:
Zachary Taylor 1848 (Mexican War)
Winfield Scott 1852 (Mexican War)
George McClellan 1864 (Civil War)
Ulysses S. Grant 1868, 1872 (Civil War)
Winfield Scott Hancock 1880 (Civil War)
Taylor and Grant were elected, while Scott, McClellan, and Hancock were defeated in their attempts to become President.
McClellan did serve as Governor of New Jersey from 1878-1881, AFTER running for President against Abraham Lincoln. But Taylor, Scott, Grant and Hancock never ran for public office.
Additionally, Horace Greeley, the New York Tribune publisher, ran for President in 1872, as the candidate of the Democratic Party and the breakaway group in the Republican Party opposed to Grant’s reelection, known as the “Liberal Republicans”. He served very briefly as an appointed member of the House of Representatives, but not by vote of the people, but rather a choice of Whig Party leaders to fill a short term replacement before the election for the next term in Congress. He served a total of only three months from December 1848 to March 1849, and did not run for the New York City seat. Technically, one could say he had that political experience, but so little in time, that he could be seen as basically a “non politician” when he ran for President 24 years later, although being the editor of the New York Tribune was certainly “political” in nature.
Then we have Wall Street industrialist and businessman Wendell Willkie, who ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, after stirring the Republican National Convention and overcoming much better known Presidential candidates, but while running a good race, he lost, and then supported the World War II effort and cooperated with FDR until Willkie died in late 1944.
And finally, we have billionaire Ross Perot, who ran for President as an independent in 1992 and as the Reform Party candidate in 1996.
So only Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant were “non politicians” who were elected President.
The odds of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, or Dr. Benjamin Carson being elected President in 2016, therefore, are astronomical!