My twin (Donald Trump) and I were lying in the old bunk beds and he asked me, “I won the election by the most of everybody, huh?”
“Well,” I said calmly, “Not exactly. For instance, James Monroe actually won the 1820 election by the electoral count of 231-1. Yours was a little closer.”
“I’m James Monroe!!!” he said. Immediately, my cell phone started beeping. I was receiving tweets about it. “I’m James Monroe!!! I won by 230 votes!! You better believe me or I’ll exclamation point you all night!!!!!!!!”
“Well,” I said calmly, “If you’re going to be James Monroe in 1820, you also have to be James Monroe in 1816, when he only won by 11 votes. At the time, there was only one political party, the Democratic-Republicans. So whoever got their nomination would win. The nomination took place at one meeting, with 119 people in attendance.”
By now, my twin was enthralled. Donald Trump loves learning about history.
“Monroe was the favorite, with the main challenger being Secretary of War William Crawford. Crawford was the choice of a group who wanted a president with some charisma. When he got to the caucus, though, Crawford was afraid to campaign openly. He didn’t think he could win, and he was afraid of upsetting Monroe. Crawford wanted to keep his cabinet post.
James Monroe was chosen by a vote of 65-54 on that day in March, and you have to wonder if Crawford realized the opportunity gone by. All he had to do was admit he wanted the job and then convince six people to switch. Plus, it only needed to be six people who, by all accounts, liked Monroe just fine but didn’t love him even one little bit. Not to mention that there were 36 others who didn’t come to the caucus. Crawford could certainly have found a couple votes among them. The votes were there for the taking. Crawford missed his chance, and Monroe was nominated.”
There was some silence after I spoke. Finally, from the bunk below, I heard: “Maybe I’m not James Monroe. Was he tall?”
“Not as tall as you. Now go to sleep.”
Ryil Adamson is the author of “The Best-Looking One Always Wins.” For a complete version of the elections of 1816, 1820, and 2016, read his book.