Local Politics

Political professor: Divided nation has come together before in tough times

Posted November 7, 2020 7:28 p.m. EST
Updated November 7, 2020 8:40 p.m. EST

— With the nation so divided around the 2020 election, it might be helpful to look backward.

When you do, you find we have been here before.

"There is no doubt the country is heavily divided," said Andrew Taylor, political science professor at North Carolina State University.

That can be seen in protests outside election offices and in the numbers in the 2020 election results. That kind of division has people concerned.

Taylor said the United States has seen similar times before. The 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore all came down to Florida and the Supreme Court. In the end, Bush was declared the winner.

"The 2000 election, we all remember that," Taylor said. "The focus was solely on one state and the margin in [Florida] as a lot closer, if you can imagine, than it is in places like Georgia and Pennsylvania."

Taylor said that political atmosphere did not feel as heated then as it is now, though. For a better example of even more tense political tensions, Taylor suggests we go way back to 1876. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Democrat Samuel Tilden in that election. It was "just after the Civil War, where there was very contentious results in three Southern states, Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida," Taylor said.

In this current election, some have questioned the accuracy and fairness of the vote. That is also not new for this country. Taylor said in 1960, Richard Nixon questioned his loss to John F. Kennedy.

"Richard Nixon lost by very narrow margins in Illinois and Texas," Taylor said. "If he would have won there, he would have won the presidency."

No two elections are exactly the same. But in similar moments in the past, we should remember, the country did get through it.

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