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When presidential campaigns were an honest business. Yeah. What a joke.

The other night while eating dinner and watching the news, I listened as pundits went on about how sleazy the campaign had become, how with all the political chatter about the candidates they had stooped to new lows of cheap shots and dirty tricks. Look at Barack Obama with his unpatriotic wife and radical Islamic upbringing, or what about allegations made against John McCain the old McWar monger? Still, I couldn’t help but think how bad the 2004 election was with John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disaster, or the 2000 election and the Florida recount debacle.

Then I got on to thinking about the very beginning—before primaries, spin control, PAC’s, sound bites, hanging chads, and talking heads—when electing a president was a clean, sober, and dignified business. As it happened, there was no such thing. Van Buren was said to have worn women’s clothing, Dewey hated you and your children, Lincoln smelled, and Carter was a hick.

If all of this sounds depressing, cheer up. “Without smears, innuendo, and thievery tainting our electoral system, what would we have to connect us to our quickly vanishing past? Believe me: You could take any Whig or Federalist of yore, plunk him down in a modern presidential campaign, and (once accustomed to television and the internet) he’d be up and shrieking with the best of us.”

“We’re Americans, after all. A nice, dirty election runs in our blood.”–(Anything For A Vote)

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5 Responses

  1. Completely true. The first election with two opposing sides was in 1796 betweent John Adams on the Federalist ticket and Thomas Jefferson on the Democratic-Republican ticket. The Federalists used the Democratic-Repub’s support of the violent revolution in France against them, and the Dem-Rep’s said that Fed’s supported monarchies and the rich.

    Even during the first election in 1789, where the only clear winner would be Washington, people were slandering John Adams.

    Tts a political thing…a human thing. It has been going on since mankind organized themselves and had leaders and it will always be this way.

  2. It is unfortunate that the average Joe cannot be elected for president. The system (if you could actually figure it out) would eat you up. If a aspiring individual actually has a shred of ‘true’ dignity, and a desire to serve the people and not their own agenda (Hillary Clinton), and then actually have congress try to support such an individual…. sorry I was dreaming

  3. One more comment on the 04 election. I find it extremely odd that Old rich retirees from New York who now live in WPB for their Golden years magically forgot how to vote. ( I know I am over generalizing, but look at the demographics)

  4. The election system in the US means that personal, ad hominem attacks are part and parcel of what goes on, it just comes with having candidate based, personality centred election system.

    To a degree we have it here in the UK, but it’s to a far lesser extent as we have a party based system and so we just have the usual campaigns based on the economy, Iraq, crime and education.

    I don’t particularly envy the US system, although both have their pro’s and con’s, I suppose you could argue that the ‘Contract with America’ showed a party based election could work over there, but it’s unlikely.

    I personally liked Mitt Romney!

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