In 1971 Washington’s leading LGBT activist became the first openly gay man to run for Congress. In just a two month campaign, Frank Kameny put gay rights on D.C.'s political agenda- and made them stick.
As we celebrate the Nineteenth Amendment’s centennial year, those of us in D.C. should also remember the women whose victory wasn’t assured in 1920. Our local story really isn’t about the large demonstrations down the Mall, or the women who protested outside the White House—the suffragettes of Washington were the Voteless Voters, who continued to fight long after the Amendment was ratified.
In 1987, a convicted murderer from Massachusetts was apprehended in Prince George's County after a short police chase. His arrest would set off a chain of events that would become the hot button issue of the 1988 presidential campaign.
Those who look at the sorry state of politics in modern America can take solace in the fact that we do not face the savagery that took place in the name of democracy in 1850s Washington, D.C. During those tumultuous days leading up to the Civil War, Washington, and much of the country was in the grip of heated debates over slavery and immigration that often turned violent.
As the presidential election of 1828 approached, the nation’s emotions were running high. Andrew Jackson, the former Governor of Tennessee, was to challenge incumbent president John Quincy Adams. This was a partial rematch of the controversial four-way contest of 1824. Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes, but because no candidate won a majority, the election went to the House of Representatives, who chose second-place finisher John Quincy Adams. Jackson and his supporters were furious. Calling it the “Corrupt Bargain,” Jackson’s supporters accused fourth-place candidate Henry Clay of selling his supporters to Adams for the job of Secretary of State. This set the stage for the most vicious campaign ever seen at that point in American history.
While the months leading up to a presidential election can be stressful for many in Washington, D.C., the presidential race provides a gold mine of material for the Capitol Steps. Founded in 1981, this political satire troupe has been poking fun at politicians for almost 40 years.
It’s Election Day, and hopefully most of you are braving the weather and the lines at your local polling place to make sure your voice is heard. If you cast your ballot for a presidential candidate in the District, you exercised a right that has only been around since 1961; that’s how long DC residents have had the right to vote in presidential elections, a right granted by the 23rd Amendment.
Well, the Redskins may have trouble winning football games these days, but they have proven quite effective at predicting presidential elections over the years. Since the team moved to Washington in 1937 there have been 18 presidential elections. In 17 of those, the so-called "Redskins Rule" has held up:
If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent's party will win the election and keep the White House. If the Redskins lose, the challenging party's candidate will win the election.
So, what does this mean about this year's election?