Super Tuesday Founding Fathers Super Trivia

Posted on March 6, 2012


Today is Super Tuesday in America when Republicans will hold their largest primary. Excitement is high as Republicans hope that after three years of campaigning, fundraising, rallying, and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, they can finally settle on a candidate nobody is excited about.

For international readers who may not be familiar with America’s election process, you may have a hard time understanding the significance of different election dates since it may seem like the candidates have been running forever–and you’re not wrong. That’s what’s so magical about our elections–they never end.

And the amount of time and money we’re willing to invest in our elections is our secret for consistently producing such stellar leaders.

Despite their election exhaustion, Americans are resistant to making any changes to the election schedule and challenging the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, but they might be surprised to learn how different our elections are from what the Founding Fathers intended. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about the Founding Fathers and the first presidential elections:

1. The first series of presidential debates followed a much different format:

Round 1: Domestic Policy
Round 2: Foreign Policy
Round 3: Swimsuit Competition

This practice was last observed in the 1840 election when President William Henry Harrison rode his swimsuit competition 10s all the way to the White House, catching pneumonia and dying after wearing the wet swimsuit under his clothing during his inaugural address. From 1844 onwards, the wearing of a swimsuit by any candidate was considered bad luck–and bad hygiene.

2. The Founding Fathers originally wanted to require all state of the union and inaugural addresses to be 140 characters or less. In the words of John Adams:

I dare say, if an issue cannot be explained in 140 characters or less, the guv’ment has no bizness 2 address it #politicaltheory

This requirement never made it into the Constitution since nobody could draft a philosophical explanation for its existence in less than 140 characters.

3. Not only were the Founding Fathers comfortable with a religious litmus test for office, they actually required one. Candidates were wrapped in litmus paper and repeatedly dipped in holy water. The litmus test decreased in popularity as the results were endlessly debated since none of the popular religions could decide whose holy water should be used.

4. The Founding Fathers envisioned a much more efficient primary season. A large group of 100-200 candidates would compete over the course of a week until the judges had whittled them down to 24 candidates in a process lasting no longer than one Hollywood week.

5. James Madison is considered the great-grandfather of social media after gaining popularity in the 1808 election for mailing his network of supporters a series of oil paintings of cats wearing patriotic clothing. These paintings were then mailed to friends of his supporters and thus created a strong base of voters familiar with his name and cats. It also created the first government registry of people who should receive free birth control.

6. From 1790 to 1850, only white male landowners were allowed to vote. The original intent of the law was not meant to disenfranchise those who didn’t own land, but rather to protect the land from the riffraff who might decorate their land with gnomes and tireless cars on blocks.

Posted in: Columns