The Bernie Sanders nuclear option: Pull a Teddy Roosevelt
Meagan Day

There is a cautionary aspect to this story, too.

It is true by definition that a split in one party makes victory for the other more likely. But by creating that split, Roosevelt ensured that a man — Taft — who took occasional interest in small wars in the Far East and Latin America was beaten by another — Wilson — who took a good deal of interest in a major war in Europe.

It was Wilson who, without any need or cause, took America into WW1. “For God and King” is two words too long to be the rallying cry of the American citizenry, but “For God” was good enough for Wilson. The same astonishing hubris that led him to say “that God ordained that I should be the next president of the United States” determined his position: He would take the States to war, and in so doing contribute to its extension rather than its early end, at the cost of many lives abroad and liberties at home. And his actions made certain a post-war atmosphere of revenge and punishment, creating the conditions that made WW2 all but inevitable.

Taft may have lost the election of his own volition (or lack thereof). Roosevelt made certain that he did. There are, thankfully, few parallels of circumstance between then and now, but it does serve as a reminder that political principles and conviction can carry a very high price.