Wyoming’s State Capitol Building in Cheyenne is dressed for the holidays in this photo. But handouts may not be in order as lawmakers begin debating whether to eliminate some sales-tax exemptions. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile )

Elections are a big deal: this is a democracy, after all. So no wonder they get wild.

But for a little relief from this year’s events, take a look at the phenomena of the past:

Nationally:  “U.S. Presidential Elections have ALWAYS been crazy.” This is a recent offering from a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and a website called Zocalo Public Square. In 2014 the two organizations launched a 3 year collaborative effort looking at “What it Means to be American,” and the set of interesting articles on past elections is part of that. The Smithsonian describes the overall project this way: “This national, multi-platform conversation will bring together leading thinkers, public figures, and Americans from all walks of life to explore big, visceral questions about how America’s history of migration and immigration, democratic traditions, and shared history and culture have made us the nation we are today.”

In Wyoming: Riot at the 12th Wyoming Legislature: Fisticuffs on the House Floor.” National politics often have a ripple effect here, as this essay from WyoHistory.org by former WyoFile reporter Greg Nickerson reminds us. In a major ruckus in the national Republican Party a little over a century ago, former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt created a huge rift among  Republicans. He went to the extent of founding his own Progressive Party in the presidential election year of 1912, and the result was that incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft lost the White House to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. In Wyoming those tensions expressed themselves in a fight — literally — on the House floor in Cheyenne, in January 1913, over who would be Wyoming’s next U.S. senator.

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