Thomas Jefferson’s Rulebook on Ruining er…Running for Election

Posted by Ashley Poston

Satire inspired by Hamilton/Anything for a Vote

Here are ten quintessential rules for running for election, as told (well, more shown than told, but I’m sure he would’ve told you anyway if he wasn’t dead) by the great Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom.

Our Founding Father was many things—a bibliophile, a scholar, a lover of food, a violinist, a slave holder, and a two-time presidency-winning loquacious son of a gun.

So how did this prominently-born well-dressed son of a Virginian planter, skip the Revolution, knock up a few women, and still go on to win a presidency?

These are Jeff’s Ten Election Commandments.

Number One: Keep pet mockingbirds.

Because who doesn’t want to keep pet mocking birds? They’re vicious things. Have you seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? Apparently Jefferson liked the way they sounded, and kept four at a time. His favorite was named Dick.

A mockingbird named Dick.


Number Two: Channel your inner ascot-wearing smooth hypocrite.

In his day, Thomas Jefferson was a slick dude. He also might not have been as aware as he thought he was. While eloquent with a quill, he didn’t uphold those truths which were so self-evident. Basically, he enslaved nearly two hundred humans over his lifetime while at the same time describing slavery as a “cruel war against human nature itself” and a “great political and moral evil.”

Huh. You don’t say, Jeff.


Number Three: Sally.

To perfect your image, you must have secrets. And what better secret than a mistress? And what better mistress than a slave mistress you impregnated with six children while in Paris.

We're not judging – but damn.


Number Four: Run against your president.

It’s the only time in American history a vice president ran against his boss. As to quote the oh-so-eloquent Jefferson from Hamilton, “Adams shat the bed” so it was time for Jefferson to make his move.


Number Five: Two Words—Character Assassination

Go to the press, attack attack attack your political rival. Get your Republican voters to do the same. Pollute the newspapers with such blasphemous yellow journalism, Trump would be proud.

And then… wait for it…


Number Six: Get Hamilton On Your Side

In a moment when scholars1, to quote Hamilton “lost his damn mind,” Hamilton penned a fifty-four page backhanded slap entitled Letter from Alexander Hamilton Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United States

The fifty-four page tear-ass pretty much nailed John Adams into his coffin and helped Jefferson tie with his running mate for the presidential candidacy.

Aaron You-Didn’t-See-That-Coming Burr.


Number Seven: Announce your victory early!

You know you’re going to win, so why wait? Go ahead and pick out your best suit. Polish your shoes. Powder your wig. You got this in the bag, bro!

Nevermind that you and your running mate, Aaron Burr, tie for presidency. According to the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the unique ability to break a presidential tie. Just make sure that the losing party (aka the Federalists) don’t control the floor. And who did the Federalists look to for guidance?

That’s right. Alexander Haters-Gonna-Hate Hamilton.


Number Eight: Throw a sick six-day sausage-fest to determine the winner.

Behind closed doors (where I am assured by sources2 that it was the room where it happened), a few representatives decided to forego their votes. No one knows why. A few spit-in-the-palm handshakes later, Jefferson was declared President, and Burr was left forever wanting to be in the room where he was royally screwed over.

Of course, Hamilton wouldn’t see the fruits of his labor because we all know what happened four years later in a duel with Aaron Burr.

And that brings me to the next commandment…


Number Nine: Don’t Be Like Burr

Don’t wait for it.

And if you do wait for it, don’t revenge-kill your rival four years later. If you wanna be like Jefferson, you ain’t got time for that. Instead, grease some palms and stick sorta-kinda to your beliefs. Be willing to bend for the opposite party. Be willing to change. And forgive.


Number Ten: Have a bromance with your rival, John Adams.

Be the type of rival that fanfiction authors write hate-smut about. John Adams’ Federalists wanted to gouge the eyes out of Jefferson’s Republicans—and we're being nice here. Adams and Jefferson rarely agreed on political agendas, and they had a falling out during their political careers, but toward the end of their lives they made up and became hella tight drinking buddies again. Over their lifetimes they penned countless letters to each other. They even died an hour apart from each other.

Yeah. Take note, Nicholas Sparks. Next bestseller right here.


While Thomas Jefferson isn’t always the most likeable character in Hamilton—or in history—he certainly led a very illustrious life. From his time in bourgeois Paris to penning the Declaration of Independence to his greatest accomplishment, the Louisiana Purchase, he certainly left a mark on the United States of America, where we still echo the words he drafted over two hundred years ago.

Kind of like mockingbirds.


1) Scholars meaning one Joseph Cumming, author of Anything for a Vote.

2) Hamilton, An American Musical

Ashley Poston

Ashley Poston

Ashley Poston is a part-time author and full-time fangirl. She was born in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well…Tweet her at @ashposton and find out more about her at