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Dc: The emotional tussling over a contested election can leave people demoralized and full of resentment. One hopes any feelings of bitterness connected with this year's presidential contest will fade with time. But if history is a reliable guide... it won't. Wendy Vapors reports.
(sfx: hushed dinner conversation, silverware)
Wendy: Dinner time at the Melvin home in Sandusky, Ohio. The children describe their day at school as Wanda and David listen carefully. There are compliments for David, the cook, and plans made for an evening of homework and perhaps a trip to the store. But when the conversation lags and the table is enveloped in an uncomfortable silence, talk is often drawn to the presidential election of 1888. And at times like this, David Melvin has a tough time holding back waves of revulsion, disgust and bitterness.
Melvin: Benjamin Harrison. Phooey!
Wendy: Melvin's great, great, great grandfather Otis was an ardent supporter of Grover Cleveland, an incumbent president who won the popular vote in 1888 but lost to Benjamin Harrison in the electoral college.
Melvin: This country took a wrong turn with Harrison. Four years, lost. By the time Cleveland got back into office in 1893 to become the first and only president to serve two non consecutive terms, it was too late to undo the damage.
Wendy: (int) Don't you think you're exaggerating the importance of this just a little bit?
Melvin: The American people know I'm right. We all suffer every day from the detour we took with Benjamin Harrison!
Wendy: So I decided to ask the American people if they still resent the presidency of Benjamin Harrison.
(sfx: city traffic)
Citizen 1: Oh, yeah. He got... what... almost a hundred thousand fewer votes than Grover Cleveland in 1888. But ... electoral college, y'know? There it is!
Wendy: Huh. Yah.
Citizen 1: That was a pretty raw deal.
Citizen 2: His high tariff policy satisfied organized labor but prices went up and hurt everybody. Big mistake. Benjamin Harrison. What were we thinking?
Citizen 3: I liked his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, a lot better as president.
Wendy: (int) (amazed) I didn't even know his grandfather had been president. What did you like about him?
Citizen 3: Brevity. Died a month after his inauguration. You gotta admire somebody who gets to the point like that.
Wendy: (vo) Everywhere I went people were full of bitterness and remorse about the presidency of Benjamin Harrison.
Citizen 4: Benjamin Harrison - what a miserable president!
Wendy: (int) Come on now! Do you mean to tell me that all you people I'm stopping on the street all know about and have an opinion about the presidency of Benjamin Harrison from 1888 to 1893?
Group: (uh huh)
Wendy: Didn't any of you, even for a moment, think maybe he was one of the Beatles?
Group: (uh uh)
Wendy: And so... a random sampling of opinion on the street and a lengthy interview with someone who really knows how to hold a grudge... provide convincing evidence that in a close election when the electoral college vote noses out a popular vote winner, people will never forget, and more importantly, they'll never forgive. I'm Wendy Vapors, and I'm reporting.
Group: Yah, Wendy. Great report! Etc.
Wendy: (off mic) OK, where are you from, really! Am I on Candid Camera?