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My History Can Beat Up Your Politics

History Podcasts

Since 2006, bringing historical context to the politics of today. TV pundits discuss politics in a vacuum. Cable news tells you everything is 'breaking news' but in most cases, events have long roots in history. In this podcast, we smash and bash the politics of today with a healthy dose of history

Since 2006, bringing historical context to the politics of today. TV pundits discuss politics in a vacuum. Cable news tells you everything is 'breaking news' but in most cases, events have long roots in history. In this podcast, we smash and bash the politics of today with a healthy dose of history


United States


Since 2006, bringing historical context to the politics of today. TV pundits discuss politics in a vacuum. Cable news tells you everything is 'breaking news' but in most cases, events have long roots in history. In this podcast, we smash and bash the politics of today with a healthy dose of history






On The Lincoln Train: The 13-Day Journey of a President-Elect

Lincoln's turbulent period as President-elect also featured a novel twist: a thirteen-day train ride through the states that had cast their votes for him, and two that had not. He countered large cheering crowds and some security risks, while he managed to avoid opining on the fast-paced events of the day and to avoid compromising with violence. We look at some of his speeches, how he handled being President-elect, and the last-minute change and secret voyage conducted for safety reasons.


The Power to Pardon

From Eugene Debs to Richard Nixon, from a previously run episode, the President's power to pardon is examined.


I Don't Want to Trick You: The Lyndon Johnson - Richard Nixon Presidential Transition, and Other Stories

Nothing starts a good presidential transition like charges of treason, and thus it was in 1968 that a tense election ending started a transition between Presidents of two parties. Yet all things considering, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson's transition is considered one of the better ones. We look into the circumstances, the actions and the phone calls between LBJ and Nixon, from November 5th, 1968 to January 20th, 1969. We also look at contemporary news stories, and stories of other...


Pirates and America, w/ Rebecca Simon, Author of "Why We Love Pirates"

America's fascination then and now with sea rebels, sea dogs, privateers, smugglers, and pirates by other names is pretty clear. Books, movies and video games with pirates sell. We talk with pirate expert and historian Rebecca Simon, Ph.D. and author of "Why We Love Pirates: The Hunt for Captain Kidd and How He Changed Piracy Forever" We talk about connections between the American Revolution and piracy, and the different ways pirates were viewed in Britain and America, how pirate crews...


Why Do Nebraska and Maine Vote for President The Way They Do? And Other Esoterica of The 2020 Election

It started with one guy's idea. And nothing happened with it until after he died. We look at the Maine and Nebraska congressional district system of Presidential elector assignment and its history as both the NE2 and ME2 went for different candidates than the statewide winner for the first time in history. That and other 2020 Election thoughts.


Did Nixon Win the Popular Vote in 1960? And Other Stories

In this episode we look at an enduring mystery, one that didn't matter too much in the 1960 election but has since taken on significance. Could it be that Kennedy lost, and Nixon won, the popular vote nationally in 1960. We looked at it a decade ago, and at that time MHCBUYP declared that Richard Nixon may rightly join popular vote winners but election losers: Cleveland, Jackson, Tilden and Gore. Now, we think it's complicated. But still possible. This, plus the "Gumps of History" and other...


The Creation of Children: Child Labor in the U.S. and Child Labor Laws

A look at the history of child labor and attempts, mostly unsuccessful for decades, at child labor restrictions. From 2014.


I Travelled Through Time to Tell You This - 14 Years of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics - Plus Listener Questions

Host Bruce Carlson reflects on 14 years of the podcast, provides a show update. Plus some listener questions on masks then and now, Presidents leaving (or not leaving) the Oval, and Kennedy's 1960 election and allegations of fraud.


Notes of 1884: Thoughts on That Election, and the Current One

We discuss the tight election that elected the first Democratic President in 25 years and some comparisons and contrasts to the current election. A President's umbrella, salutes for his "big foot," chain-armor clad parades, and the importance of a concern for the "general weal." all in this episode. Music by Stephan Siebert, About Life.


The 1796 Presidential Election: Placing us in a Point of Opposition to Each Other

'The public and the public papers have been much occupied lately in placing us in a point of opposition to each other. ' So wrote Jefferson to Adams about the 1796 Presidential Election, America's first with two candidates with true campaigns. The letter didn't reach its recipient, the opposing candidate of a party; the old friends became political figures and their letters potential weapons as opposing sides had gelled too much. The 1796 Presidential Election was America's first with two...


Don't Run for President: Candidates Who Ran, Didn't Run, Didn't Want to Run, Couldn't Run or Didn't Know They Were Running for President

A candidate who didn't run for President. A candidate who ran, but didn't know he was running. A candidate who didn't want to run, but had no choice. A candidate who ran without seeming to run, and a candidate who ran but died before the votes were counted. An election that didn't happen, but would have been a humdinger if it did. A President who thought he had no competition, thus no true election, but at the very last minute did. A history of running for President, not running for...


What You Haven't Been Told About The 1860 Election: Houston vs. Lincoln, Woke Volunteers, Fossil Politicians and More

Abraham Lincoln running against...Sam Houston? It is not a far-fetched idea that Abraham Lincoln might have faced Texas hero Sam Houston in the election of 1860, as he was under serious consideration to be one of the candidates in what became a four-way Presidential election of 1860. And he would have been a formidable one, except backroom candlelight politics ended Houston's presidential dreams. Also, how Lincoln benefit from "woke" political "armies," and how an old enemy helped him beat...


The "Gaffe-a-thon" of the 1976 Election

Jimmy Carter's speechwriter said "We were 30 points up, but unfortunately we had to campaign." A tight race turns to a veritable battle of gaffes between two newbie Presidential candidates. A surprise challenger and an unelected President. We go over the close '76 election, including a last-minute event that almost changed history.


Dewey Gets Mad: Another Look at the 1948 Election

Truman's high-tech train, Dewey's We Go High optimism and the defeat that made him cling to it, Truman's risky calling of a Session of Congress and how it went badly for him in a few ways, and Dewey's decision to get angry, unfortunately first at an average citizen and only later at his opponent. This and other lesser-known stories of the 1948 Election.


The Fifth Debate That Never Happened - 1960

After the four TV debates between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960, there was talk of a fifth. That talk didn't result in another TV debate, but did provide one more campaign issue for a very tight election, and developed a new thing - TV debate negotiations. We look at 1960, the fifth debate talk, and other reasons besides the debates that affected the 1960 election results.


Blaine, Washington, and Stories of Health and Sickness and Politics

From James Blaine's fainting spell days before Republicans chose a candidate, to Washington's extreme flu scare, to the SARS epidemic and a look at the Ever-So-Prescient Defoe's Journal of a Plague Year, Health and Sickness and Politics.


John W. Davis Also Ran

When an obscure lawyer won a party's nomination for President in a surprise convention choice, he used his platform to take on a hate group.


Introducing: The Fault Line: Bush, Blair & Iraq

Why did we go to war in Iraq in 2003? What happened in the 18 months between 9/11 and March 2003 that drove that decision? What was it about George Bush and Tony Blair that meant war was in the cards? And what motivated these two men at the peak of their powers – with the world on their side – to pursue a war that would prove to be historically unpopular


Earl Warren Replacement, Election Year SCOTUS Battles, Mario Cuomo and Court Packing

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought forth a week of mourning but also politics over the Supreme Court. We discuss the history behind election-year appointments, most notably 1968 and we look at the thorny issue of Court-Packing.


The 1880 Election and The Morey Letter: a Tale of October Surprise, Immigration, Memes and Counter Memes and Nothing to Do with Today's Politics

The 1880 election was close, with Democrats and Republicans seeking an advantage in its waning days when a letter hits a major city newspaper purporting to be in the hand of a candidate. It is a letter that could turn the election. With Todd Arrington, a historian at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio, we discuss James A. Garfield's surprise nomination and the Morey letter. We also discuss what could have been had Garfield lived.