Would you have voted for Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election?  

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were reasons to vote Theodore Roosevelt in the election of 1912. There were also reasons not to vote for him. I’ll explain each side so you can decide what you would have done if you had the choice to make in 1912.

In the election of 1912, Theodore Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate. Roosevelt had hoped to secure the Republican nomination, but that nomination went to President Taft. Roosevelt believed that Taft had betrayed the ideas of the Progressive Movement as well as some of Roosevelt’s own ideas. Roosevelt believed President Taft unfairly went after big businesses. Roosevelt believed big businesses could exist as long as there was a balance between regulation of businesses and cooperation with them. When Taft went after the U.S. Steel Company, Roosevelt believed Taft destroyed that balance. Roosevelt was also dismayed that Taft removed some of the leading conservationists from government positions and replaced them with people who were less strong on conservation. When Richard Ballinger, a corporate lawyer, replaced Secretary of the Interior James Garfield, Roosevelt wasn’t happy. He also was unhappy that Gifford Pinchot was removed from his position as head of the United States Forest System. Thus, if you believed that Taft’s actions were weakening the Progressive Movement and its ideals, you would have been inclined to support Roosevelt.

Voting for Theodore Roosevelt carried some risks with it. Since most of the people who would have voted for Roosevelt would likely have voted for Taft if Roosevelt wasn’t running, voting for Roosevelt would split the Republican vote, most likely giving the election to the Democrats and Woodrow Wilson. Additionally, Roosevelt was violating the unwritten tradition of a president only serving two terms. No president had served more than two terms at this point in United States history.

Thus, people had to make a decision that carried some risk. What would you have done?