One could argue that every Presidential Election is significant in some shape or form, but certain elections stand out as turning points in the promotion of American democracy.
Such are the Presidential Elections of 1864 and 1964, and now moving forward, 2024!
In all three, the sustaining of American democracy was crucial, and in the first two cases, the results, after much concern, were massive landslides, hopefully setting the scene for 2024!
In 1864, Republican Abraham Lincoln was running for reelection in the midst of the American Civil War, with his opponent being General George McClellan, who was resentful of his firing for poor performance from Union Army leadership, and represented to many the Confederate hope of pulling out victory late in the Civil War.
Lincoln was so concerned that victory was unattainable, that he decided to replace Vice President Hannibal Hamlin with a Southern Loyalist Democrat Andrew Johnson, and the Republicans invited War Democrats into the party by changing their name to the National Union Party.
The end result was a landslide with Lincoln winning all but three states, winning 55 percent of the vote, and an Electoral College majority of 212-21!
A century later, President Lyndon B. Johnson, having succeeded to the Presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy less than a year earlier, faced the most right wing Republican contender for the Presidency in modern times, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who advocated ending the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, including Social Security, and also opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Johnson went on to a landslide victory, winning 61.1 percent of the popular vote, the all time high, and 44 of 50 states and 486-52 in the Electoral College, but with five Southern states going to Goldwater, the beginning of the political realignment that has made the South solidly Republican ever since, with only a few exceptions when Democrats nominated Southerners for the Presidency, including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Johnson went on to promote the Great Society, a massive increase in government programs, way beyond the New Deal of FDR.
Now in 2024, with the Republican Party being the most extreme right wing since Goldwater, and arguably more so, Joe Biden faces a challenge not only on a personal level, but also on overcoming the menace of Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans, who have repudiated the original basis of the Republican Party’s founding, opposing slavery and its expansion, and instead promoting racism and nativism 170 years after the origins of the party in Michigan and Wisconsin in 1854!