IN THE NEWS
The canard, You don't change horses mid-stream, deserves to die swiftly and finally. Towards that end, I'm asking for your help, Dear Reader, in compiling the definitive list of elections or other constitutionally mandated leadership changes that occurred during wartime.
The point, of course, is to show how history does not support the idea that changing leaders (or horses) presents any special risk during wartime. In fact, as discussed in an earlier post about the Peloponnesian Wars, democracy and constitutionalism are important sources of strength for a nation facing the strains and frights of war.
So, without further ado, let's get this list started. Please post any proposed additions or clarifications in the Comments section.
Peloponnesian War (431 to 404 BC). Athens continued to elect new generals throughout this on-again, off-again conflict. Sparta, too, selected new kings, navarchs, and other leaders during the war.
Punic Wars (264 to 146 BC). Rome regularly elected new consuls to command the fight against Carthage. The Roman Republic continued this practice through even the worst moments, when Hannibal's army was rampaging through the Italian peninsula.
American Civil War (1861 to 1865). The Union held a presidential election in 1864, in which Lincoln won re-election against McClellan, his Democratic opponent.
World War II (1939 to 1945). President Franklin Roosevelt won re-election in 1944. In 1940, Winston Churchill replaced Nevill Chamberlain as the prime minister of Great Britain.
Cold War (1945 to 1991). The United States, Great Britain, France, and other Western countries continued to hold elections, in spite of the threat of nuclear war.
Koren War (1950 to 1953). In 1952, as US, South Korean, and allied forces fight North Korean and Chinese troops in a brutal war of attrition, American voters select Dwight Eisenhower as the new president.
Vietnam War (1961 to 1973). From the advisory period in the early 1960s to the eventual withdrawal of combat troops, the United States continued to hold presidential elections. Additionally, the Watergate scandal ended with the re-affirmation of free and fair elections, as well as constitutional checks and balances.